Dragons are not the easiest of friends to have. They can be volatile, cranky, moody and pout. They can also be fiercely loyal (even if you don’t want them to), supportive (sometimes aggressively) and show you that you are strong (by sitting on you).
Teens, Dragons and Friendship
Navigating the “Friendship Sea” during junior high and high school is important to teenagers. It is often tempestuous and filled with rocks. We have all experienced rocky friendships, but that is not what I am talking about. I’m talking about the kinds of rocks that can sink a teenager.
- Cliques – These are tight knit groups of kids who can be judgmental and often shut out kids who are different from them. (Jocks, Cheerleaders, Divas, where you live, etc.)
- Labels – These are names given by others. Good or bad, teenagers often feel the need to live up to them.
- Clothing – If you do not have the “correct” clothing you can be snubbed by many.
- Grades – It has always amazed me how this can give children undeserved labels. I was labeled a brain and began to be embarrassed about my grades. To make myself feel better I learned to tell them my grades while the sunlight shone through the back of my head. (Impression of a total air head.)
- Differences – It takes a strong person to be different, especially during these years.
Having friends is an important part of being a teenager. It is an important part of our life no matter what our age. Friends can validate us when we are struggling with life. Friends can boost us up and make us laugh. But, the friends we have during our formative years can have a serious influence on the direction we take in life. Especially when they have a negative influence that can drag us down.
Drop a dragon into the middle of all this angst and things get even more stressful.
My Life Was Perfect – NOT!
I had lots of friends. I did not hang out with any one group. I kind of floated between a half-dozen different groups. There were the band kids, kids from a local church, kids from my church youth group and kids from different school clubs. I didn’t really have a best friend. I remember watching “best friends” laughing, whispering, crying, and doing all kinds of things together. I would listen as they talked about this activity or that adventure. Private jokes would go right over my head while the friends laughed until their sides hurt. I watched while they shared treats and snacks with each other. I felt lonely and left out a lot of the time. I remember wondering why I didn’t have a best friend. I wasn’t shy. I smiled, said hello and was friendly and helpful as much as I could be. I knew a lot of people. People from all over the school would know my name even if I didn’t know theirs. Of course, I carried band aids, feminine products, safety pins, extra pens, etc. in my purse and that quickly became well-known. I was the go-to-girl for emergencies. I was also the listening ear and shoulder to cry on when people were having bad days. So why did so few of them invite me to join them when they were having fun?
Not A Total Outcast
I wasn’t a total outcast. I had a few really close friends to do things with and laugh with. I was invited to a few parties. I participated in all our church youth activities: dances, girls camp, pool parties, BBQ s, etc. I enjoyed many school activities and participated in a couple of clubs.
My house was party central all through high school. We had regular parties where we played active, silly, sometimes rowdy games. The food was good, the laughter was loud, and everyone stayed until the very end.
So Why Did I Feel So Separate
Many people assumed I was popular and maybe I was. Looking back, it is very possible that I was. The difference, I think, was the darkness that was slowly consuming me. Who could I tell my pain and fear to? So, Nobody became my best friend. Nobody wanted to hear me wonder if the world would be a better place without me. Nobody wanted to sit and hold my hand while I cried for hours. Nobody wanted to hear “I don’t know!” when they asked why I was feeling angry or depressed. My peers and the influential adults in my life just wanted me to “get over it” and be a regular teenager. Well, I wasn’t a regular teenager. I was a teenager with a dark and scary dragon growing inside my head.
So Few Close Friends
I had a few close friends that I could be “best friends” with. We would do things and have some private jokes. We would talk about life and what our goals were. We would complain about school, boys, our parents, and other things. But, even these girls did not know the extent of my struggles, how depressed I always felt and how big the gulf was between me and the rest of the world. I have come to really appreciate and love these sweet girls over the years. It is these memories that have sustained me during my time in the dark shadow of Bip.