Dear Kids, You Might Not Find Your People Until You Go To College

Hi Kids,

It’s me, your mother. I know you hate it when I tell you about my teenage years considering I went through them last century. I also know you think I’m too old and forgetful and not really up on the terminology so what could I possible contribute to your social life.

So much has changed since I was in high school and college in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, and I get that you don’t really want to listen to what I have to say.

But you should—not just because you should always listen to you mother (but so much that), but more because even though you have more opportunities and are able to send a message or FaceTime with your friends at the drop of a hat, the one thing that hasn’t changed about friends and friendship over the decades is how a true friend makes you feel.

good friends
You may not meet your people until college. (Shutterstock/Rawpixel)

A real friendship is honest and giving and makes you feel alive. When you have that kind of comfortable bond with another person, you trust them; they feel like home; you are better after being around them.

I know I say this all the time, but it’s worth repeating:  high school is naturally a time of high-drama and anxiety between friends. It always has been and probably always will be. There are a bunch of hormone-driven teenagers trying to figure themselves out. It’s normal, it’s okay, you will survive this.

I’m not blind to the fact you are sharing really intense experiences with you friends, wanting to be with them every moment, talking all the time, sharing clothes and wanting to dye your hair the same color, only to stop talking about them in a few months, or watch your friendship morph into something else.

That is just the cycle of being a teenager– you’re growing and changing at such a rapid rate and sometimes friends stay with you through that ride and sometimes they change– and that’s all okay.

There’s no need to worry because you will find your people– it just might not be until later when you go to college. You know about the friendships I made in college— I talk about them all the time– I believe they were stronger than the friendships I had in high school for a few reasons.

When you go away to school, you have this freedom of getting to start over in every way. And choosing who you spend a lot of your time with is one of the best parts of your new life.

You will meet women and men who you will eat with, you will sit through lectures with them, you will work on projects together, celebrate together, and stay up until all hours of the night talking, enjoying each other’s company.

These years are about seeing your way into adulthood together and through that discovery, certain friendships are cemented and will become lifelong relationships. It solidifies your bond and during this time you will have a very clear vision of what you want in a friendship.

So, when you are struggling with your friends, or having a hard time, or feeling like you don’t quite fit in, do me a favor: Take a moment to pause and remember you might not find your people until college.

It truly is the story for so many of us. And it’s not to say you won’t always stay in touch with high school friends– you even may have a best friend from high school for the rest of your life– I’m simply reminding you that when you go off to school, because of the circumstances and how much you evolve being on your own during those years, you not only find true friendship, they find you.

I know high school years aren’t easy; one day you feel like part of a tribe, and by the end of the week you aren’t so sure where you fit in. It’s confusing and it can make you feel disposable to some people but it won’t be like this forever– you won’t feel like this forever.

Pretty soon, you will get to leave high school and any angst it’s caused in the rearview mirror.

So, trust your old mother when I tell you, some the best friendships of your life haven’t even happened yet.


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About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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