Our thoughts, actions, reactions, and memories make each of us individually unique. The way we spend our days in between birth and death are the moments that define our characters. Over the period of time that we have on this earth we have many choices to make. We choose to breathe. We choose to open our eyes. We choose to nourish ourselves. We choose to see more than the physical things and feel more than a physical touch.
We all live. I have been living since the morning of September 24, 1993. I have done many things since that day. I learned to walk on my own, I became a big sister, I learned to share my toys, I made friends and lost friends, I got a part-time job, I decided on a career, I graduated high school, and I went to college, and I changed my mind about my career. I have been creating moments every second since I took my first breath that Friday morning 21 years ago. Yes, I may not remember the very early moments of my life but I experienced them. I had a mind and a soul and I felt the sensations racing through my body. I have chosen every day of my life to breathe and to continue moving no matter what is thrown at me. It wasn’t until recently though that I can say I honestly remember my life beginning or that I remember feeling so strongly about something. I have had my fair share of heart break from people I trusted and I’ve felt anger and happiness- all of which are promising feelings that create our personalities which in turn become our reason and way to live our lives. Something that had always been there but that had been buried over the years was found and started growing to the surface. A passion was ignited. I wanted to change-to become the best version of myself and the version of myself that I wanted to show to the world. I was scared and intimidated but I made the choice. I felt like I was about to end my life-the only life that I had ever known-and I was absolutely petrified out of my mind. I had been scared for over a year. I was so scared that I had repeatedly made excuses for myself but my feelings were changing so fast there was no way I could turn back-even if I wanted to. The day I realized I didn’t want to turn back was the moment I changed completely. I ended my life as I had known it. It was time to start fresh which was going to take time and effort. Not knowing how long until I recognized myself again or when I would be comfortable was entirely frightening and powerful.
I grew up in an average house, living comfortably but not extravagantly. I have two parents who love me and will do anything to be there for me. I have a little sister who went from being my tiny nightmare (she was definitely a little evil as a young child but thankfully she has outgrown that) to becoming the sister I couldn’t live without. I didn’t achieve genius status in high school-I was an average student. I was never the “popular” kid. I made a few friends, good and bad, and ultimately learned what betrayal felt like from these very people who claimed to be my friends. I didn’t have a real best friend so I learned to keep my true secrets to myself and I became comfortable on my own. My parents raised me to be independent, the world made me stay independent, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. It is the moments in life that make us individuals and make us genuine. If you continue to read this, I know you will understand and you will relate. Maybe you didn’t experience the exact things that I have but everyone knows what it’s like to want and need someone in your life who you can’t imagine living without. For some of us that is a sibling, a mentor, a significant other, or a best friend.
Pushing our way through life’s obstacles alone is stressful, difficult, and takes a toll on our health-physically and emotionally. I have had more “best friends” than any person should have in a lifetime but eventually I learned they were not my best friends or even my friends. I didn’t know what it felt like to have a true best friend (outside my sister) and by the time I had graduated high school I was beginning to think that best friends like Thelma and Louise and Brooke and Haley didn’t exist in real life. But somehow the universe has granted me the greatest best friend in the world. Shannon is my best friend, she always will be, and in a way she always has been. We first met in middle school and then became better acquainted with each other through mutual friends in high school. After graduation, the people I called my best friends vanished and somehow I was still clinging on to Shannon. I remember sitting at the lunch table in high school and thinking “someday, she is going to be my best friend.” We often joke about me disliking her high school boyfriend purely because he would show up and whisk her away during the only five minutes I had with her (hey, we walked to Chemistry just fine before he showed up- but I digress). Even after we graduated high school I still didn’t know the real Shannon all that well. I knew her enough though to know she was my best friend and someday she would be the Brooke to my Haley, even if she didn’t know it yet. After two years of suffering through college and only seeing each other about once a month I had decided to transfer to Fredonia (where Shannon had transferred the year before). We decided that first week we spent together is the week we absolutely became best friends. From that moment, wherever one went, the other followed. To this day we are basically one travelling unit. If you see Shannon coming, I can guarantee I am not far behind and vice versa. We are together so often that people (even some of our friends!) question if we are actually just best friends or a super adorable couple. I promise we are just best friends but as soon as we find guys who are the male “Jenna and Shannon” I guarantee we are kidnapping them forever. Our friendship is one of a kind and can’t be written down. I can’t tell you what it feels like to know that there is someone who will accept you for all your amazing and weird qualities, lets you vent about stupid things that annoy you, and knows exactly what you are thinking just by one look. Our friendship is filled with lots of laughs, constantly tripping over things, 3am conversations on the bathroom floor, long homework sessions, hugs, some tears, walks for miles, a slight pizza addiction, and lots of genuine, wonderful, perfect moments.
Now before I lose you, which I may have already lost some of you, but for those of you still reading let me tell you why I explained my friendship with Shannon. Even though I have written it out, I still don’t feel like anyone can truly understand our friendship unless you are standing next to us and experience one of our “Jenna and Shannon moments” for yourself (now accepting reservationsJ). When I came to Fredonia I was dead set on pursuing something I wasn’t even sure I loved anymore. I was going to spend the rest of my life convincing myself to be happy in something that had changed into something I wasn’t willing to change my beliefs on. I was also convinced that having real relationships that mattered and changed your life for the better didn’t happen outside of a movie. I am extremely grateful to have found my best friend so early in life and to be able to say I am finally figuring things out. I am focusing on my passions, expanding my interests, learning about new things, meeting new people, and most importantly creating the best memories. I finally feel like I am living- like I have something special to share with the world. I hope everyone is able to find their one person that takes life to a whole new level. I have learned so many things because of my best friend. The world completely changes when people connect and grow together. Smile at a stranger or hug an old friend because new or old, friends are one of the greatest gifts life gives us. Thank you for being my Brooke, S. But more importantly, thank you for being you.
Stay sparkly, everyone!