The power of friendship. This week’s Young Reporter article

I remember at a young age, my mother was gifted this ceramic box with a quote engraved on it “friends are like stars, you don’t have to see them to know they are there.” At the time, I didn’t grasp what the message was as I believed I had millions of friends, everyone was my friend at that time (oh the joys of childhood). As I am writing this, I discovered someone who I did not know very well tragically passed away and yet I still felt the wave of sadness and grief. I always saw them, the impact they had affected so many, and it was beautiful to see so many people come together and support each other through such a heartbreaking time.

I understand what that quote means now, and I’m fortunate enough to say I have friends who I can cherish throughout life. Arguably, friendship is a journey, and it’s not necessarily about longevity, more about the lessons and memories created along the way. Friends may be the stepping stone to our future self. Shared love is infectious; smiles can beam across a room, which leads to a domino effect of support. I am known as quite emotional, pouring all my love into my friends and peers; Jane Austen once said, “there is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature. My attachments are always excessively strong,” and I couldn’t agree more. I genuinely believe we all deserve to be loved unconditionally and supported throughout our choices. I love talking to my friends, sharing goofy memories, and looking forward to the future with them as we all grow up and progress into successful adults.

Friendship is so valuable, I compel you to take a moment and reflect. Express gratitude to those memories that flash as you travel through your past and cherish every smile, laugh, and the moment because life is so fragile. Behind all your favourite songs are untold stories, a memory or a person you think about. We have to appreciate the gift of living, being able to make such incredible friends. “Friendship is nothing else than an accord in all things, human and divine, conjoined with mutual goodwill and affection, and I am inclined to think that, with the exception of wisdom, no better thing has been given to man by the immortal gods.”

I know we can sometimes demonise social media – rightfully so as it has its flaws. However, without social media, I would have struggled much more with fighting feelings of loneliness. I’m so fortunate, I call and text my friends even if we are in lockdown and I have learned to appreciate them so much more. I can’t wait for the moment we are reunited; I can create new memories with you all whether it be joking around in the study room or having sleepovers. I cannot wait to meet future friends who I can explore my future with, travel with and revel in their company.

Something I haven’t mentioned is that friends do not have to be individuals who are separate from your family. My biggest supporter and friend is my mother. She has stuck by me through all my failures and successes, putting her life on hold these past seventeen years to ensure I have the best chance to pursue my dreams. I couldn’t be more grateful for her presence and influence in my life, she pushes me to be my best self, and I owe her so much – thanks, mum.

Find people who can support you through hardships, watch you succeed and don’t merely laugh at your mistake but instead laugh with you. Thank you to the friends who actually want to see me grow. Thank you to the friends who check up on me. Thank you to the friends who calm me down when I am overthinking again. Thank you for being in my life, I love you.

Article by Young Reporter Alex Greenwood
First appeared in Grimsby Telegraph 16th June 2020