My daughter has a tight group of friends at school. While this changes from time to time, and I notice some new names every now and again, as well as some girls who seemed to have moved on and find a different tribe, I talk to her about her relationships with these girls, a lot, since high school friendships will be such an important part of her life.
There have been tears and lots of hurt feelings along the way. As her mother, I want to tell her some of the things I learned from my high school friendships. I know she doesn’t always hear me– she has to experience that for herself– but I believe it’s an important conversation we need to keep having.
6 Lessons About High School Friendships
1. You will make lasting impressions on each other.
Maybe you won’t be friends with these girls forever– perhaps your friendship will fade in college, after you get married, or you will graduate and never see them again. No matter what happens, you will always remember each other and the memories you have made. I guarantee you will look back on your high school years, and feel incredibly nostalgic for those friendships when you are older.
2. Be nice to everyone, even if your friendship ends.
I can’t say this enough. You don’t have to be friends or hang out with everyone, but you do have to be kind. People will remember you if you treat them poorly. There is no guarantee you won’t run into them later in life and have to face up to something you did to hurt them.
People carry a lot of pain and resentment from their high school years. And it’s wonderful to meet up with someone and have them remember you treated them with respect rather than remember you were rude or just mean. Because even if to aren’t rude and mean all the time, but you treat someone that way, to them, that is who you are. And no one wants to be remembered in that way—it only takes one time.
3. Don’t blow your friends off for your boyfriend.
As I’m writing this, I’m shaking my head because I know this is one of those things we all have to go through. I did it, and all my friends did it. When I was spending all my extra time with my boyfriend and not spending it with my friends, I didn’t care at first. Then, after a while, I began to feel left out and missed them terribly. When I was ready for reentry, it took them some time for them to trust me. I’d hurt them. I know this because when it was done to me, it hurt me deeply.
I’m not saying don’t have a boyfriend or spend time with him– that can be deliciously fun. You are starting your journey and figuring out what you are looking for in a life partner– just don’t disappear on your friends. It will hurt all of you. Besides, boyfriends in high school are fleeting.
4. Stick up for each other.
I know it’s hard at this age to speak up to classmates, or people you don’t know very well. But if someone is bad mouthing one of your girls, and you take a stand, it shows where your loyalty lies and you will always be remembered for that.
5. Don’t talk about friends behind their back to your other friends,
Talk to me or your father. Maybe there is a teacher for counselor you can reach out to if you are struggling. I know this is very tempting as you need validation from your friends when there is an issue. A big way to get that in your teen (and later) years is to gossip and have others tell you that you are right, or take your side– I get it. But the thing is, people talk, news spreads fast, and really, it never makes you feel good to talk about anyone in your core “group.” I know this is not easy and no one is perfect, but if you try and practice being honest and talking to them about how you feel instead of a mutual friend, problems will be solved so much faster.
6. If a friendship doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Know when to walk away from someone. It doesn’t matter how cool or popular they are. Even if you want to desperately be their friend, and you are compromising your integrity, that’s not a friendship. We are not supposed to feel desperate or needy around people. They are supposed to meet our energy, not take it away. If someone isn’t treating your right, or serving you in the way you want, love yourself enough to choose yourself and walk away.
I know this isn’t always easy, and these years are filled with drama, there are times when you feel like you can’t escape it, but this is supposed to feel fun and carefree. Friends are supposed to lift us up; we are supposed to lift them up and appreciate them. They are worth the time and energy, and hopefully you girls will be lucky enough to develop, and form, life-long friendships.
I have a few very special women in my life who I’ve loved for over twenty years, and besides you and your brothers, they have been my greatest gifts in life.