A Fresh Start

The "fresh start" speech was a formative part of my youth. Every year, from 6th grade through 12th grade, at one our first chapels of the year, our assistant headmaster would address the entire student body. He'd encourage us to let our friends grow and change- let them have "a fresh start". And it's not at all uncommon that people would change in the quest to find themselves, but I think to some degree it's easier when you're younger.

First, while questing for your true self is always a noble pursuit, I think when you're younger its characterized less as act of nobility and more as just something you are meant to do - you're meant to grow up, so you're allowed, expected, and encouraged to grow and to go through the phases to get there: there is less pressure.

It can also be easier on your friends. While surely your true friends are there for all of your iterations of self, it's frankly less surprising when you change in adolescence. You can grow a foot taller - heck you can grow breasts - over the course of a semester, so why shouldn't you also be growing in your personhood?

I think the introspective person may have many quests they face as adult - journeys to truth, spirituality, meaning, purpose and so forth. But I think these quests often happen inside oneself. What are you to do when your friend is on a journey that manifests itself throughout her life, and moreover, it's not one you'd take yourself, and it's not one you even understand?

The initial reaction - and the right one, I believe - is to give your friend a fresh start. To avoid judging them. To remember how you felt on the other end and how you no longer speak with the best friend who said she was expressing her love by (in your mind) trying to make your decisions for you. When you were the subject of judgement, didn't it work out okay? Isn't it patronizing and offensive to say, 'I deserve to make my own decisions but I worry for you'?
The hurdle I face is that I'm the jeans-shopping friend. (I'd like to set aside for a moment that the comparison of a life's journey to shopping for a pair of jeans is ludicrous, and just go with the analogy.) As women know well, the jeans-shopping friend is the one who, rather than spare your feelings, will tell you that while you are quite lovely, those jeans do nothing for you (before you blow $100 on them only for them to permanently reside in the back of your closet). So bringing it back the comparison, isn't it now ludicrous that my thoughts would be solicited for something as inconsequential as a pair of jeans, but for a major life decision it's shape up or ship out?

What do you do when love is synonymous with unreserved support and reservations are synonymous with judgement? What if becomes an 'if you're not with me, you're against me' situation?

I'm still ruminating, but here's something I know: You love who you love; and you will remember vividly those who regarded your love with kindness versus those who treated it with judgement.

I think my friend and I must give each other fresh start. I have to let her be who she is, and hopefully she'll give me a fresh start and forgive my judgement. I hope we get to grab a latte sometime soon and move forward.