Best friends’ means letting you fall

My most recent phone conversation with my roommate went something like this.

“Hey, Kristin, what are you doing?”

“Not much. Just waiting for you guys to get back from the store so we can start the movie.”

“Ok, cool. Could you do me a favor?”

“Sure, what do you need?”

“Could you pre-heat the oven for me to 400 degrees? I want to make some fish for dinner.”

“Yeah, no problem.”

Then, there was about a five second pause.

“Uh… Sweety… you do know how to pre-heat the oven, right?”

“Of course I do.”

In the background, I hear the voices of a few of our friends saying things like, “Make sure she knows the difference between the oven and the stove,” “Make sure she empties it out before she pre-heats it” and “Make sure she doesn’t try to use a hair dryer or candles in the process.”

This is normal for my group of friends. If there’s not something dramatic going on, we are constantly giving each other a hard time. You could be sitting there, not doing anything, not saying anything, just watching the television, and they would find some way to make you look stupid for it.

This is why I love them. Whenever my scattered-up head can’t figure something out, or when I start taking life too seriously, they’re ready and willing to make me laugh about it.

Sometimes, though, I wish my friends would get on my case about things that actually matter. Here recently, I convinced myself that breaking up with a guy I had been dating for a couple of months would be a good idea. My logic behind it was flawed at best, masking the real reason I did it – that I was starting to care about him too much and it was freaking me out.

Since making that decision, I’ve asked my friends many times why they didn’t stop me. I would have thought that, for all of the people that knew about the breakup, one of them would have spoken up and said, “Hey, Kristin, we know you’ve already made up your mind, but are you sure you want to do this?” I would have settled even for a point blank, “You’re being a moron.”

Only now do I understand that it wasn’t their place to protect me from that mistake. Maybe I would have been better off if I hadn’t made that decision, but the whole point is that it was mine to make. Given the situation, they did what was best for me, maybe without even knowing it. They let me go crazy, they let me try to figure things out for myself the best I could and they stuck around after it was all said and done to watch a few movies and joke around.

I think that’s why friends in college become more like a younger family. They know us better than we know ourselves, and they can tell when its time for us to have our bi-monthly screw-ups and get back to reality. Though it might not always feel like it, these years include a lot of really important steps toward adulthood, and a few equally important potholes. We’re finally becoming mature enough to learn all we need to from the people around us, and from the mistakes they allow us to make for our own good.

People say that the friends you make in college are the ones that you keep for the rest of your life. Maybe that’s because they’re the ones that really help you figure your life out in the first place. They’re the ones that are there for the truly ground-breaking decisions, the jump from the school world to the real world, the engagements and the heartaches that last longer than a weekend.

A philosopher named Pythagoras said, “Friends are as companions on a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life.”

All right, so on that road, my friends allow me to skin my knees every once in a while, but maybe that’s the point. They make things light-hearted when I don’t know how to make scrambled eggs, but they make my mistakes easier to endure.

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