The Best Friends Are The Ones You Had When You Were 12

by Caila Smith
Originally Published: 
Courtesy of Caila Smith

Twelve was a strange age. Full of insecurity, puberty, self-doubt, and trying to fit in. But you know what made those pre-teen years a fond memory to look back on, and also, kind of great too? The friends I made and still have today.

For those with friends who met in an age group similar to mine, newsflash, you met when the rest of the world considered you “quirky.” Therefore, there’s no obligation to try and pretend any of you are even remotely “normal-ish” if you’re still friends with them today… after all, they know better.

They were and are the ones who take you as you are, and that’s what makes them so irreplaceable. You found each other in the middle of trying to find yourself. In a time when you didn’t feel like a kid anymore, but you also didn’t feel even remotely grown either. Because of that, you get each other on a level most others don’t. Your relationship is intimate, and the roots run deep.

When you were 12, you were watching horror films in the basement with each other, and then lulling yourself to sleep with some kind of Disney film to undo the harm you’d caused your mental state by watching “The Ring” even after your parents had forbidden it. These were the days when T-Ping was fair game on the weekends, and more Fridays than not were spent begging the parents who hosted the sleepover to pretty please take the lot of you from point A to point B.

Courtesy of Caila Smith

Together, you learned that using bright blue eyeshadow alone is never okay. Also, you were dumbfounded to find out that you are, indeed, supposed to apply mascara to your bottom lashes. Also, those cork-wedged shoes… those are just not cute.

Now, life is different. You have evolved individually. Each creating new lives which do not resemble the ones you first found each other in and all of you living out your purpose so uniquely… and every bit of it is so beautiful.

Through every fad, stage, heartache, loss and victory, these friends remain true. They are cherished on a personal level, because they’ve stood the test of time.

Courtesy of Caila Smith

Surely there were and will continue to be moments of frustration between you. (Does anyone remember those dreaded, gossip-filled and unknown three-way calls from way back when? UGH.) But you outgrew the pettiness stage of your lives together. Now, as adults, you’re able to actually listen for the sake of listening, not just listen for the sake of responding. You’ve been friends for so long that you’d hate to doom it by sweating the small stuff, so you admit your wrongs and right them when needed, as do they — and it’s what keeps the many-years-long friendship still burning.

You’ve started families of your own, lives of your own, and it’s nothing short of astounding to see your childhood friends grow into the parents they always wanted to be (or for some, the ones they swore to God that they would never be — ha!). And although life stands in the way of seeing one another’s kids as often as you’d always intended, you love them as intensely as you love your own.

Because of them, your kids have playdates (although rare sometimes) that are comfortable for you and your friends. There’s no trying to be somebody you’re not. Messy buns, elastic pants and no makeup is preferred, actually. Without these people, who could you run to while venting, “My kid is being an asshole,” because you know their child is being an asshole too, and they are just going to be thrilled you were the first to admit to it out loud?

In the worst moments, they are right beside you without hesitation. And in your mountaintop victories, they are the ones cheering you on while saying, “I always knew you could do it.”

Friends like these are a platonic love like nothing else. Whereas you’ve grown used to questioning friendships, relationships, and other aspects of your life for years in the past, there’s no need to do that with them, because they’ve proven themselves to be the real deal time after time again. They are the ones who have stayed while the rest have come and gone. With them, are so many sacred and wholesome memories. And even though life is not now what it once was, the friendship remains firm.

Now, these friends and myself are grown. But beneath all of this adult exterior, there’s still a group of 12-year-olds swimming (not “laying out”) in the backyard pond while my friend’s mom makes us fruit smoothies and/or chocolate milkshakes. The nostalgia of rainy days spent making a “Sims” family while eating ramen noodles is frozen in time and near and dear to my heart. I miss those days. But the best part about them? We made lasting memories without even knowing it or planning it; we were just living our best life and doing it super carefree-like.

We are all moms after these many years. And now, we potentially get to see the other side of this kindred friendship in our own children. We might get to stock the pantry for weekend sleepovers, drive around relentlessly from activity to activity, and build campfires in the pit.

I, for one, really do hope so.

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