It was an offhand comment from my younger sister Lilly, and knowing her, I assumed it was sarcastic. I was wrong.
We had just finished watching a movie with my husband and a couple friends of mine. She made the comment about my friends after we told them goodbye and got into her car. I didn't think much of it at first, but then it all started to make sense.
My sister is in her first year of college. She's only 18 years old. She's in that tough first year after high school: friends leave, friends make promises they don't keep, and after more than a decade of being in school with the same people, it's tough to branch out and meet people for the first time.
I've been there, and I don't think back on it too fondly. I smiled when she complimented my friends, but then I realized that my friendships weren't just a lucky occurrence.
They came after years and years of work. Six years ago, I was in her shoes. I was in college and trying to keep in touch with people at big universities, and people living in different states. I kept holding out when they said they'd keep in touch, or when they said they'd get back to me. And again when we eventually were no longer Facebook friends. It's a tough time to get through, and it doesn't go quickly. You have to be patient.
So I tried to be patient. After years of friendships that go stale, missed connections or blow ups with lifelong pals, you start to see the smoke clear. And that's when you can open your eyes and see who remains. That's when you see who your real friends are. I think it may just be a part of growing up.
But it takes hard work. And it can take years.
I may have a small number of friends, and I may not see them every day, but they are the best friendships I've ever had. They're certainly the strongest friendships I've ever had, so I think they were worth the wait. I think all good things simply take time.
So, Lilly, if you are frustrated, if you feel alone, if you're wondering if things are going to get better, I just want to tell you that they will. It just takes a little faith and some time. But it'll happen.
And in the meantime, I want you to know you'll always have a friend in me.