This I Believe

Hiliary - Jacksonville, Florida
Entered on April 19, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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A Circle is Round by Hiliary Baldwin

“A circle is round, it has no end, and that’s how long I want to be your friend.” I first heard these words as a young girl in Girl Scouts. Although I must confess, back then, they didn’t hold much meaning. They were just the words to a catchy song I was enamored with singing. But now, as I reflect back, I’ve come to realize that they mean so much more.

I believe in friendship. I learned from an early age how important it is to have friends and to be a friend.

The summer before fifth grade my father was offered a preaching position and transferred from a church in DeLand, Florida to a church in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. This meant change. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t make any friends. What if no one liked me? What if everyone thought I was weird?

On our first Sunday in Jacksonville, my stomach was a mess; the butterflies were out in full force. I walked into my Sunday school room with trepidation. I was the “new girl” thrust into the situation of trying to break into the circles of the other kids. To my 10-year-old mind it seemed as if the other kids had been friends forever, been in the same classes since Kindergarten, and there would be no way I could possibly penetrate their inner circles.

To my surprise and delight, I wasn’t the only “new girl”. Another girl walked in right behind me. Her name was Stephanie. During that one hour of Sunday school, Stephanie and I became fast friends. I found out we had so much in common, we both loved Disney, and had massive crushes on Devon Sawa from “Casper”. We discovered we were even going to be in the same class when school started. She introduced me to and welcomed me into her circle of friends.

That was over 10 years ago. We have gone through so much together. When my father retired from his preaching position, things changed. In our denomination, the retiring minister and their family are asked to no longer attend the church at which they pastored. This is to avoid any questions of loyalty that may arise among the congregation. My family began to attend a new church and people I once considered friends began to treat me differently.

I didn’t understand then why my friends suddenly started to ignore me, and I’m still not sure I understand today. What I do understand is the heartache and pain this caused. Stephanie was a bright light in a sea of uncertainty during this time. In a time where no one could see me through a fog, she stuck by me. She was always available to be a shoulder to cry on, a fountain of wisdom, and a source of laughter. We’ve survived middle school, high school, first crushes, and now we’re onto a new adventure…College!! Although we are at different colleges we’ve remained close.

It’s because of the rare people in this world like Stephanie that welcome the “new kids” with open arms that I believe in friendship. When things get tough, they don’t high-tail it away; they put on their industrial strength gloves and dive into the thick of things to help you sort through the bad.