For as long as I can remember, true friends have been hard to come by. When I was little, there were two neighborhood girls whom I considered my best friends. Then one day without warning, they decided I was too young to associate with them and left me behind. It broke my heart.
What was wrong with me? Had I done something? Was it my fault? I couldn’t understand why they had deserted me. For a year I would sit on the couch and watch them walk past, wishing things could have ended differently.
Years later, I was a part of a youth group where we were all close friends. Suddenly, it shifted. My friends shut me out without explanation. I was no longer accepted as myself, but instead scorned and teased. It was just over, and I was left feeling utterly broken and alone.
Every time my friends rejected me, I blamed myself. I was sure the problem was me. However, my family helped me to see the truth.
They listened to my cries, understood my pain, and encouraged me. When I was depressed, my mom would take me shopping or watch a movie with me. In the evenings, my dad would stay up late to talk, while my older brother made a point of hanging out with me. Through them, I knew beyond a doubt that I was abundantly loved, even if I wasn’t accepted by certain others. Though I was lonely for friendship, my family never let me feel alone.
I’ve learned that we all have our flaws, but we are all uniquely special. There was nothing wrong with me. I was just me, and no one should ever try to be someone they’re not. True friends love and accept you just the way you are.
I know there are other teens who are hurting and feel alone, but they don’t have to be. They need love and encouragement. They need to see just how incredible they really are. Not for the way they look or the things they do, but for who they are on the inside.
Spend time with the teens in your life. Let them know that they are loved and never alone.