Before I delve into my inner thoughts and newly formed philosophy, I’d like to clarify that this is not a refurbished version of the cliche idea that one must love themselves in order for others to love them as well. Sure this may have truth to it but even the most self-loathing individuals are loved by someone and the most self-conscious people admired. Loving yourself makes a great deal of things easier but there are no prerequisites for love.
What I have discovered to be true is that you must know yourself and be capable of creating your own happiness before you expect someone else to do so for you. If I hadn't gone through the phases of loneliness I have faced I wouldn't value the friendships I have now so greatly. Back in the day, I was a goofy kid who wore weird clothes, played with worms at recess, and slipped on a cucumber on the first day of junior high. It was unbelievably hard for me to make friends or even speak to my peers for that matter. Eventually, I formed a few casual acquaintances through association; but when shit hit the fan, and I started cruising through the halls in an outrageously shiny wheelchair there was no one by my side. I was alone, and I was having a fantastic time scaring teachers with my sick wheelies and racing kids in the halls whether they liked it or not. Kids are mean even when they're not trying to be and when they put a little effort in they can be devious. The get well card signed, “Have a great summer” given to me in the middle of winter and the old lady jokes constantly thrown my way probably weren't meant to hurt, but they made it increasingly clear that I was a solo act. I’m sure many of you remember WES Camp and I am positive those fond adventurous memories differ from mine. For me, the week was spent shuffling around with a bright red walker, thankfully, lacking the signature tennis balls. I was excluded from the group but I was kept occupied by an old man who looks exactly like the wise tortoise from Kung Fu Panda, his name was Antelope Andy and he wouldn't shut up about his fascination with oak trees. Despite this, Andy and I had a great time. I believe going without friends for so long gave me the ability to identify and appreciate true friendship. By sophomore year of high school I had detached myself from the friend who hung my bra in a tree, purposely gave me bad fashion advice, and used me as the punchline for all her jokes. What remained were true connections and healthy relationships. Real friendships are symbiotic and they aren't always fun and games. It is not fair to expect someone to constantly make you happy and joyful, especially when you can't find joy on your own. I believe to be a good friend to others and to have good friends you must be able to find happiness in their absence and be a true friend to yourself