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Friends are Like Bras

Close to your heart and there for support.

I have some amazingly fantastic friends. I am nearing the end of my undergraduate education (51 days until I graduate wooo-hooo!) and have therefore been considering what to do afterwards. My first thought was law school, but after finding out that because of previous academic mistakes the likelihood of gaining acceptance to a decent school, sans a Stay-Puft Marshmallowman-sized miracle, would not exist. In the midst of this research, I read an article about a young man who graduated from high school on the East Coast then and proceeded to skip the American version of his undergraduate degree to obtain a law degree from Oxford; law school in most countries outside the U.S. is in the form of an undergraduate degree, although you can obtain post-graduate certification in most subjects. I knew then what I was destined to do: go abroad.

I’ve always known that I was a “worldly person” and it would not be likely that I would stay in the Midwest, but never did I think I would be able to attend school abroad! While I’ve decided to find a way to circumvent law school and still pursue a career in the same field, it does not take away from the pure glee I felt from the onset of my search.

That glee became indescribable on October 20, 2011 when I received my acceptance to Liverpool Hope University in Liverpool, England. They are six hours ahead of my time zone, so the e-mail actually arrived at 3:49 a.m., even though I did not read it until 7:00 a.m. As you can probably imagine, I was bouncing off the walls….that was until I told my mother. My grand announcement was followed by silence, a question from me about a congratulatory comment to break my mother’s shock, and a comment from her indicating that she was worried about my finances (and still no “congratulations”). Needless to say, this was not what I expected.

I reacted with tears and anger, and my friends and family with unwavering support and love. I also learned I was not the only one who had less-than-expected responses from family members when making big announcements. A friend of mine announced that she was joining the Army ROTC program and her mother reacted badly, but eventually came around. The same can be said about friends who have gotten engaged to “less-than-worthy” partners according to their parents, career moves, relocations, choices in college, parenting, etc. While the initial reaction may not be what you expected, eventually “they” come around.

That’s why I’m so grateful for having the friends I do. I have friends who are older and in their forties and some who are much younger than I am. One thing transcends all of their age brackets: they all have lessons to teach and we all have lessons to learn from them. We need to listen to and heed the advice of our friends because they are our support system when we cannot stand, or are disappointed by our family. In my case, I regard many of my friends as family which makes taking their advice even more important.

Life is a learning experience from the time we are born until the time we die. We will all have great and terrible experiences, but the key is in the way we handle them and who we learn from. If our friends are held close, the experiences we have with them and the things we learn from them will be the most significant insights into who we are and what we want.

Personally, my friends have helped me realize that I need to stop fighting for the acceptance of my mother and start accepting myself and doing what I want to do, not what will make her proud. It is for that reason that I am going to England. I have my friends to thank for helping me make that decision and come to that realization. Their support and love is unrelenting and unending and I will never be able to thank them enough for all they have done for me; and I hope many of you feel the same way. We all learn, but the best lessons learned are those we learn about ourselves through other’s eyes. With that, I say Cheerie-Ohs and see you next time, Planeteers!