Since you were born you’ve probably heard “I love you” thousands of times. You’ve heard it being said to you and to the people around you and at 7 years old, you probably have a simplistic definition of the word. For you “love” is the way people take care of you, brushing your hair, tucking you into bed at night and cheering you on at school events and for now and years to come this idea will serve you well. One day however you’re going to grow up and have a more panoramic view of the world and of love. At some point love won’t just be mommy coming to your play at school or putting little notes in your lunch box, no, at some point love will be something you seek from a partner, someone who knows and keeps all your secrets. Though the idea of you growing up and finding someone you love frightens me, I want you to know that of all the many things love can be, painful, should never be one of them.
Love does not hurt, love isn’t heavy or burdening, love isn’t ostracizing or tiring. It’s important that you never feel like you owe something to the person you love, remember love is not a commodity that can be bartered or exchanged; it is a mutual and constant contribution to one another’s lives. Love is good morning notes next to the coffee machine, love surprising your partner with peanut M&Ms because it’s their favorite when they’ve had a rough day. I want you to have positive experiences of love Ava, I want you to never doubt that you’re lovable and that you deserve the best. If ever you feel like what you have is less than love it’s okay to leave and it is okay to have love for a person but not be in love with them. Love is a freeing experience it makes you feel light and open to life so I caution you, if you ever feel the love you have casts shadows on your life, on your happiness, it is time to move in a different direction.
Most of all Ava I want you to understand that in life we will love many people. We will love people intimately, like family and as close friends and all these types of love are necessary to us growing as a person. Sometimes though, like flowers, love has a season and we must move on to preserve our own garden. When love stops feeling freeing know that it’s not your fault and you just cannot fix it sometimes. This doesn’t mean the love that once was is any less significant it just means that there is more out there for you and you have every right to find it.
Throughout our lives, we will have many friends and many types of friendships. Some friendships will persevere through the major moments of your life and it’s multiple milestones. Others will be brief and only last a short while but might be as equally meaningful as those that last for years. Friendships when you’re a little girl are seemingly simple and are based around liking the same flavor ice cream or the same TV show, they make elementary school memorable and recess more fun but as you enter middle school and beyond, the dynamics of a friendship as well as the ideal type of friends you seek will change as you mature.
You might seek friendships with those who are similar to you or have the same interests, who are “safe”, who don’t try to pressure too far outside your comfort zone, and whose mindset doesn’t stray too far from your own. For a while, these styles of friendships will serve you well with good memories, abundant laughs and dozens of secrets shared but eventually you’ll be forced out of that comfort zone you live in. You may all end up in different schools, careers or even cities and despite the efforts of keeping in touch the dynamics of the friendship will change.
So what are you to do when you shift into the next phase of your life, in a new space, unfamiliar territory with all these unacquainted faces? It might be instinct to discredit people who are vastly different from you, whether in appearance, upbringing, education or interest but instead of avoid something new, embrace it. I can tell you the most meaningful friendships you will ever have are those you never anticipated. Sometimes when we cross paths with people who are from different paths in life, we find our own path is now lined with brighter and more stunning flowers. People who are after more in their own life will bring more to yours. Maybe it’s a different heritage or a different taste in books but small things like this add more meaningful stitches to the quilt of your life.
The moral of my story, Ava is to never discount any type of friendship, big or small. Understand that sometimes you will outgrow a friendship and that doesn’t make either of you, terrible people and even when you feel your life is full always be open to new friendships and new points of view. Unexpected friendships often leave the most memorable footprints in your life. So form bridges with people from all walks of life so when you stop and look around you’ll see you’ve created a diverse and wide world for yourself with many avenues to explore. Never short change yourself the opportunity to get to know a new friend because of the premonitions of an old one and remember there is no maximum capacity on friendships.