By Olivia Proe
My middle school years were mostly friendless. It’s safe to say for for the first year or so, I had no friends in high school, either. So, when I started having people over towards the end of my sophomore year of high school, my parents were excited for me—and maybe a little relieved. They were as happy as I was to see me find my place.
My friend group was a motley crew, seeing as we all had been the misfits. But we found a place with one another and spent our Friday nights gossiping and drinking sodas in my basement.
How I Made Friends
I got my driver’s license the summer before my junior year. After that, I was a part-time resident in my own home. If I had a night off, I’d spend it shopping with the girls or playing video games with the guys. If I had friends over, we’d disappear downstairs. My parents didn’t mind at first. Later in the year, though, I felt myself losing touch with them. Family news seemed to bypass me. I wouldn’t hear about things as small as my mom’s haircut or as large as my grandmother’s surgery until they had already happened.
Feeling frustrated and a bit spurned, I remember snapping at my parents, “Why don’t you ever tell me anything?” To which they replied, “It’s because you’re never around!”
I didn’t distance myself because I loved or valued them any less. In hindsight, it was because I was scared. I came to the realization that I was gay during my junior year of high school and barely understood it. Explaining my feelings to my parents was too great a task for me at the time.
However, all of my friends were in some way LGBT. They were able to empathize with me and stand steadfast while I discovered myself. In a way, they served as a family during that time. They were never a replacement for my parents or younger sister. Instead, they supplemented my family’s love and supported me in a different way—especially before I came out to my family.
Now, I find myself missing both my family and friends in my first year of college. Their pictures hang above my dorm room bed, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about them. I’ve blossomed because of all of them and owe them all my newfound confidence. They’re both my families—whether by birth or by choice.
Olivia Proe is originally from Shaker Heights, Ohio. She is a student at the College of Wooster.