When I think back to my elementary school days, I vividly remember the eager anticipation and excitement of having a play date with a friend. Calling them to see when they wanted to come over, getting a note allowing them to ride home with me after school, spending hours engaged in various activities and conversations – all providing amazing memories with people I enjoyed spending time with.
Needless to say, when I hang out with my friends now, our time together looks a little different. We’ve traded American Girl Dolls for our phone cameras, snapping both silly and serious selfies. We’ve traded my bedroom floor for the couches of a local coffeehouse (most often Graham’s 318, which happens to be one of my favorite places in Geneva). We’ve traded conversations about multiplication tables and "Hannah Montana" for conversations about our hopes for the future and our greatest fears (there are still plenty of discussions about mathematics, although to say calculus differs from multiplication is the understatement of the year).
Play dates and simple hangouts were great when I was younger. However, I truly believe that my friendships are more meaningful now, and that is in no small part due to the differences in the time we spend together. High school life is so ridiculously busy that my friends and I have had to be intentional about fitting social time in, and even though we may not be able to see each other as often as we’d like outside of school, that makes the time we do get to spend together that much more valuable.
My friends and I have also been able to have more mature – and frequent – conversations now that we are older. While it’s fun to go out and do activities with people you care about, I think that some of the most valuable moments are spent simply sitting and talking with another individual, getting to know them as a person and learning from what they share. Some of my happiest memories from high school are from meeting with friends at Graham’s 318 and just catching up on life and laughing together. In some cases, true conversation requires a certain degree of vulnerability that may be somewhat uncomfortable at first, but in my opinion, the best way to grow closer to someone is primarily by talking and listening to them.
There are times when I miss the good old days of sitting in my bedroom with Barbies and a best friend. But when I think to how much more worthwhile my friendships are now that our time together is intentional and conversation-driven, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m looking forward to many more coffeehouse conversations and meaningful memories in the years ahead with the people I care about most – maybe even those I haven’t met yet.
Emma Chrusciel is a senior at Geneva High School. In addition to writing, she loves Broadway musicals, playing piano, andspending time with her family and friends. Contact her at email@example.com.