Are you often called “unapproachable” or “distant” by others? Do people often avoid making eye contact with you when you’re walking down the street? Has someone ever told you that they don’t want to get to know you because you look scary? Same, dude.
Making and keeping friends started to be a challenge for me when I was eight. Before that, I was carefree and befriended everyone, but then I realize that the world is full of fake people. I know, shocker. At the time, I was losing friends quicker then I was losing teeth.
By the time fourth grade came around, I only had two friends at school, but they weren’t my true friends. I always felt terrible about myself when I was around them because of how they treated me and how I let them continue to treat me like this.
Okay, let’s fast forward to October of fourth grade. I still didn’t have good friends, but I did have a pushy mother. The Halloween Carnival was just around the corner, and my mom volunteered to do nails at the carnival like the typical Vietnamese mom. This meant that I needed to go early with her while she helped set everything up, which meant I had to hang out with a bunch of random kids whose moms were setting up too. I was not happy about spending an hour with a bunch of kids with sticky hands and runny noses.
It was the day of the carnival and I wasn’t ready. When my mom got to her assigned station, there was another mom at the next station over with her daughter. My mom started talking to her and, five minutes later, I was walking around with the lady’s daughter. For sake of privacy, we’re going to call her daughter Samantha. I knew of Samantha, who didn’t? She hung out with the most obnoxious girls in my class, all the guys liked her, and she was always ridiculously nice, which made me ridiculously uncomfortable.
We awkwardly introduced ourselves and walked around the empty school. We talked about stereotypical things and then we stopped and then it was silent and it was painful. Once in a while, we would look at the other person when we thought they weren’t looking. This went on for quite a long time before we saw the jumpy house in all its glory. It was beautiful, and we were ready to jump away all the awkwardness between us.
The moment our feet touched the bouncy jello-like ground, it didn’t matter that we didn’t know each other, as long as we could jump, we were perfectly fine with each other’s company. We jumped and jumped and jumped and jumped, until our moms stopped us and made us go eat. They decided to trust us with $20 each–that was their mistake. Instead of being sensible nine-year-olds and buying some fried rice or pizza, we thought it would be an intelligent idea to buy snow cones. These snow cones would be the first two of the eight that we consumed that day. Each snow cone brought a new combination of flavors and with those flavors brought new memories to be made.
After eating our snow cones, we went back to the jumpy castle. The minute we got in, we said we would never get out, but I quickly realized that this was not possible because I was getting incredibly nauseous. I had to get out before I threw up because I knew that, if I threw up, I would get grossed out and throw up again because of how gross it was, and this would be an endless vomit cycle. I quickly asked the Universe to have mercy on me because I was not trying to throw up on my new snow cone buddy, and the Universe worked its magic because Samantha said that she wanted to take a break from bouncing and go play some games–thank goodness.
Samantha and I played our games, but I was still super nauseous, so of course, I chose to go get us some nachos to help ease the nausea. This was a big step for me in terms of character development for two reasons: First, I was actually willing to share food with a human that I was not close to, and secondly, I was actually willing to eat fake nacho cheese.
The nachos were ready and we began to eat. One thing you have to know about me is that I love food, especially if it’s spicy–obviously–I’m Vietnamese, Sriracha and ớt cay live in my blood, no one should expect anything less. And let me tell you, those nachos were good and they had a kick, but the amount of spice wasn’t overwhelming, so I thought nothing of it, but Samantha was dying. Samantha has a low spice tolerance and was practically crying because of the nachos. In that moment, I knew that our friendship would last forever because she wouldn’t eat my food. That was what I needed in a friendship; it was perfect.
After getting Samantha some water, she said that the sting was lingering on her tongue, so we decided that one more snow cone was the perfect solution to our problem. We got our snow cones and we went outside and ate on the windowsill. We were finally comfortable around each other and we were talking about the most random things we could think of. We just sat there for a solid 20 minutes, which was a long time for a bunch of nine-year-olds to be sitting still and just talking with one another. I was convinced we would be good friends after the nachos, but after the stupid conversation we had about random things on our mind, I knew that the Universe (and our moms) forced us together so we would be best friends, and I was right.
Six years ago, I met my best friend, Samantha. Ever since that day, or friendship has evolved and grew into such an awesome relationship. I am so glad to know that no matter what I am always going to have a friend who is there through everything with me. I am so glad that my mom forced me into an uncomfortable situation and awkwardly forced me into a friendship because without her, I wouldn’t have found my best friend, so thanks mom, you are a true one. Also, shout out to those dang nachos and my appetite for making me realize what friendship is about!
And if you’re reading this, Samantha, you are an amazing soul and I appreciate you and our friendship. Thank you for being understanding and always being caring. I would not be able to survive high school without ranting to you about every little thing. Thank you for impacting my life and making me realize that being uncomfortable is okay because we grow and those around us grow, too.
And, reader, get out there, leave your comfort zone (or be forced out of it by your mother), and make a cool friend from an initially uncomfortable situation–it might be amazing!