Ok, let’s talk about Romeo + Juliet! When I was in middle school, the Baz Luhrmann version of Shakespeare’s most classic love story came out in theaters and I was instantly in love! And we’re talking pre-Titanic Leo love, which is an entirely different kind of love. One year later, Leonardo Dicaprio would become the biggest heart throb on the planet. But for those of us who started our love of Leo off with Romeo Montague, this one’s for you!
But I don’t just want to mention my deep and abiding love for Mr. Dicaprio (which has never diminished, even after all these years) I want to also talk about my love of Shakespeare, which was largely ignited by this very movie. After seeing it (about 100 times) I started reading it over and over again. In fact, my dad got me my own volume of Shakespeare’s works for Christmas that year and wrote a beautiful note to me about how Leo started me down a path and he was happy to have me continue down it. I memorized all the great monologues and would recite them in my room to my collection of beanie babies…I was a really cool kid, I promise!!
To this day, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet is one of my favorite movies and one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays. I’m sure there were teachers that tried to get me to read Shakespeare, perhaps my parents even attempted it. Shakespeare’s plays are enduring and everlasting. They are timeless and beautiful, but for my little middle school heart, it took Leonardo Dicaprio to spark my interest. And look at me now!!
Think back to when you were in the 2nd grade. How many friends did you have? If you’re a social butterfly like me, then you had lots of friends. I knew practically everyone in the 2nd grade at my little, country elementary school and they all knew me. I was the one who was always on the play ground holding court and making sure everyone had room on the jungle gym. If you can’t get along on the jungle gym then there’s no hope for you in the halls of a school. I tried very hard to make people feel welcome and accepted, which lead to my bevy of friends.
Flash forward to high school and gym time was an entirely different story. Not only do jungle gyms disappear in 6th grade (sadly) but so did my popularity. In 6th grade I began to show signs of becoming awkwardly tall and awkward in personality. The quirks that set you apart and make you cool when you’re little, immediately are seen as weird when you hit middle school. It’s all about homogeny and I wasn’t good at that game. So, I had a couple friends that were my besties, but that was really it. All the awkwardness of middle school was only exacerbated by age and my entrance into high school. And to some degree it continued into college.
The older I got the smaller my pool of friends became. In my head, I still had this picture of me on the jungle gym surrounded by all kinds of people, all kinds of friends. The friends that will get your back in a fight. The friends that will tell you it’s stupid to fight. The friends that started the fight. The friends who are fighting you. The friends on the sidelines cheering you on. I’m the kind of girl that cherishes all the friends. The more the merry.
So, to have a handful still throws me sometimes. I feel like I’m doing something wrong if I invite my friends to my party and 4 people show up. It doesn’t diminish the importance of those 4 friends, it’s just that sometimes my head doesn’t reconcile itself to my present reality. It may sound juvenile or silly, but what it really is, is completely honest. I have a hard time with reality. Especially when I paint really gorgeous thoughts and ideas in my head. Why wouldn’t I want to spend more time up there?
See, in my head, it’s easy to be friends with people, but in reality it is difficult to be a friend and have friends sometimes. Especially when most of my besties are far, far away. There are times when I think that I’d make a better cave person than a friend. I want so desperately to do life with people that I care about, that I forget that there are people who don’t want to do life with me back. It’s still a new concept for me, hopeless optimist that I am. But it has become part of my present reality. A decidedly painful reality.
I get it. We all have one life to live and we have to make choices about who gets our time. Time is very important to me, so I understand spending it well. I guess the thought that I would be someone undeserving of a person’s time and energy is just so baffling, because I find myself occasionally delightful at best and moderately tolerable at worst. I hope that doesn’t sound narcissistic. It’s just that I spent all those awkward teen and college years trying to be anyone else. And I’ve finally accepted that I’m a pretty neat person. So I don’t apologize for liking myself after all this time. Liking yourself is a gift!
With that in mind, I want to give the time that is allotted to me to those individuals who enhance my life’s journey. And what I’ve learned is that quantity does not matter. Who cares how many friends you have? What matters is who will show up when you need them the most. The quality of friendship far outweighs the latter.
I am blessed to count on my hands a number of people who would drop everything to take my call. And who I would do the same for. I hate to make it sound harsh and I truly hate adulting. While cutting out the chaff may be difficult, it is a vitally important step in the process of growing up.
That’s not to say that I don’t still sometimes wish I was back on the jungle gym where things were easy and you became friends with someone simply because you were both wearing the same color…it’s just not physically true anymore. And I don’t have time for the fair-weather friends of the world. What happens when the storm comes? Who’s holding the umbrella with you? That’s the friend I want in my corner. It’s the kind of friend I hope that I am to my quality handful.
You’d think that social media would help immensely with this friendship problem, but it only muddies the waters. It only creates a false sense of closeness with people who let go of you a long time ago and you just forgot to delete from your contact list. So, gentle reader, choose quality over quantity. You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose…unless they’re a quality friend, then they’ll probably pick your nose right back!
It’s fair to say that back in high school and even in college, I did not know myself very well. When I was little I was the outgoing one. Always in the middle of whatever was happening. The center of the spotlight.
In middle school I learned that not everyone valued the ability to recite the entirety of Star Wars: A New Hope or the complete soundtrack to The Phantom of the Opera. But I had my little troop of friends and they got me. And it was enough.
High school was just ridiculous. I was wearing bindis one minute and thought I was Hispanic the next. I was throwing keys and crushing on every boy I knew and was, in general, a big ole train wreck. I never felt at home in my own skin. I was constantly looking for other things to define me. Things besides the indefinable, wonderfully made me. The me that God himself thought to put together.
Looking back it’s clear to see why I was never kissed. I didn’t know me. So how could I possibly have let other people know me. And high school boys aren’t exactly patient and willing to wait around for you to find yourself. So I left for college, feeling inadequate and behind the times and just all around undesirable.
Again, I had friends who knew me as well as they possibly could. And I rarely thought about it in the day to day excitement of college life. But I turned 24 and something happened. It wasn’t enough. Everyone had these stories and experiences and I just had the fantasies I’d built up in my mind about how it would happen and what it would be like and who it’d be with.
If you haven’t seen this week’s episode, featuring the reenactment of said first kiss, then take a look. It was rushed and awkward and with someone who didn’t even want to date me. And who I didn’t even want to date. Just a friend. It was safe that way. There was no chance of getting hurt, because the not being kissed was the painful part. Finally being kissed was going to be a relief.
And as I’m sure you guessed, it wasn’t a relief. Yep, I checked “First Kiss” off my bucket list. But was left with the icky feeling that I hadn’t done it all quite right. Insecurity is something that will haunt you if you let it. It’s not like it voluntarily packs it’s bags and leaves you alone. It’s always whispering in your ear. “No one cares. No one wants you. You are not good enough.”
I’m proud to report that I do know myself these days. I know exactly who I am and how valuable my life is. And I still sometimes do stupid things (as you will bare witness to in my web series) but I don’t let the mistakes I make define me. They are apart of me, but I refuse to spend time regretting my past. Instead I let it inform my future and the decisions I make now. Always looking forward, but never forgetting where I’ve been.
I still have yet to be kissed in a meaningful and romantic way. By someone who wants me and who I want. And most importantly, without the influence of alcohol. But that’s a story for another day.
I’d love to hear from you, so please share your stories below. I can’t be the only one to mess things up sometimes.