I believe in friendship and the way it can shape and form the persons we come to be in life. Shortly after the time we emerge from our mother’s womb, it is in our nature that we begin to form relationships with one another. Call to mind the times you spent in preschool. The early years, where the day’s schedule was as follows: hide and seek, snack break, and finally, nap time. It’s an inevitable fact that humans are most drawn to someone who extends warm feelings towards them. In preschool, we gain a sense of what friendship means when a playmate offers to share their crayons with us because we forgot ours at home.
When I began my first year of high school, I joined the Best Buddies Broward chapter, taking on the duty to extend my friendship to the intellectually handicapped community. Until then, I had little understanding of what it was like for a person to lead a life with an intellectual disability. What I learned was more than I anticipated. I met Danielle that year and she opened me up to a whole new world. When I found out that Danielle could not communicate verbally, I grew a bit nervous trying to figure out how I would go about communicating with her. When I began talking to her she would reply with joyful coo’s and a huge smile. Not only was I relieved to know she could whole heartedly respond to me in her own unique way, but I was touched by the warmth she extended towards me, especially because I was just getting to know her.
From our first encounter on, I looked forward to every upcoming Best Buddies activity because I knew Danielle would be there, gracing me with her contagious smile. For the next two years, Danielle and I became close friends. Although she has graduated and no longer participates in our Best Buddies high school chapter, Danielle and I still kept in close contact. Today, I can truly say Danielle is one of those friends who have shaped an important part of my life.
Since Danielle and I have become friends I have learned the true values of friendship. Although some people believe that having an intellectual disability makes one ignorant of their surroundings, the truth is that each and every one of us has a disability whether it be in the areas of academia, athletics, or simple things like singing or public speaking. Having this one thing in common makes us all alike yet so different. Friendship is knowing that for every step you take, you won’t be alone because that special person, like Danielle, will always be to the right of you, walking down the path of life no matter what obstacle you face together. And this is the essence of friendship.
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