The Measure of a True Friend
I was sitting on the bus one afternoon when Jenn, one of my closet friends, sat down and slapped the invite on the seat in between us. “It was so random I like talk to this girl everyday but we’ve never hung out before. Then she invited me to this Halloween party,” she said with a grin on her face. I had seen this same girl everyday as well and we had occasionally talked. The only difference was that my hands were free from an invite and Jenn’s weren’t. Suddenly envy washed over me. Jenn had received something I hadn’t and feeling of rivalry stirred within me. I had not felt this way in years but this competitive nature with Jenn had started much earlier in our childhood.
I first met her over the summer of third grade. I just moved to East Cobb from Smyrna and didn’t go to the same public school that everyone else did. My parents decided that I should join the neighborhood swim team to make new friends. Unfortunately, I was a pathetic swimmer and the swim team did nothing to boost my self confidence. Jenn didn’t help much either. At the end of practice one day she boldly came up to me and declared that I was a terrible swimmer. I was hurt but more than that I felt a sense of competition with her. I wanted to succeed in something that she couldn’t so I too could have my moment when I threw it back in her face. Over the years though, my hatred of her faded and soon a close bond formed. The one thing that never truly disappeared was a ribbon or rivalry that wove in and out of our friendship. Tennis lessons, friends, grades, and many other things seemed to be a contest of who excelled and who lagged behind. But as we got older and we experienced difficult challenges together we started looking at each other less as competitors and more as companions. The invitation that Jenn received seemed to change that. Suddenly I felt that I had been surpassed by Jenn and she was in the lead in some non existing competition. We sat in silence for most of the bus ride home. Showing her that I was disappointed I felt would only make her victory greater.
After calming down a couple days later, I saw how ridiculous I was being and I realized something I wish I’d known as a child. Someone’s success is not my failure. I believe that the success of someone I love can be in extension, success for me. Years of counting who had more friends has made me become more outgoing than my shy personality usually would have allowed. I’ve tried, worked, and played harder than I probably ever would have if she wasn’t in my life. Now I see that the people who help us grow most are not those supporting us but those who challenge us.
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