I believe in guided friendships.
Growing up, my mother made me befriend people I would never try to befriend on my own. Sometimes, these guided friendships didn’t work out too great. However, on a few occasions, they turned out amazing.
Growing up in a small, older neighborhood of Las Vegas, kids my age seemed hard to find. So every time my mother met someone with a kid my age, she tried to make me become a friend to him or her. Reluctant at first, these guided friendships often grew. However, with the growth of the city, many moved to new areas and we lost contact.
As I grew older, Mom stopped looking for people my age and started focusing on those who needed a friend. Now, this did not please me in the least. In fact, I was appalled. More times than not, these were the “nerds” or “awkward kids.” To my mother’s request that I befriend these “nerds” as I called them, I openly objected. How could I associate myself with those kinds of kids? Now, I wasn’t popular, but I definitely didn’t classify myself as a nerd. But Mom insisted. Despite my complaints, I gave in. I knew the consequences of not obeying my mom, so I played along.
His name was Jason. We were both sophomores attending different high schools. He loved theater and I loved architecture. By my standards, he was a weird kid. He had just moved into the area from a middle-of-nowhere place in Nevada and had no friends. Our mothers knew each other, so my mom felt it her responsibility to make me help him feel welcome.
In the beginning, it was strange. He was very quiet, as was I. I saw him twice a week at church and tried to be friendly, but we never seemed to click. My mother kept on me, trying with her might to make me be his friend. However, after a couple of months, she finally gave up. But it was at that precise moment that something happened. All of a sudden, Jason and I were friends: not only friends, but practically best friends. When, or what made us click, I am still not sure. We just started doing more things together. I had never had one of these “guided friendships” form such a strong friendship.
Suddenly, all the questions I had about why my mom would make me do something like that hit me. I finally understood the reasoning. Not only was it for my own good, it was to help out other people, and in the process, form genuine friendships. I was doing myself a favor, and at the same time, helping others feel welcome and better about them self. I do believe in guided friendships, because they lead to lasting friendships. If it weren’t for my mom, I would never have experienced this friendship with Jason.