Middle school. The epitome of hell on earth. Years spent hating everyone and everything because you have absolutely no idea what is happening to you both physically and emotionally. Take confusion and heartbreak, add in a pinch of angst and a heaping cupful of raging hormones, then sprinkle it all with emotional upheaval and your recipe for a confused middle schooler is complete.
Brutal does not even begin to describe these years. Not. Even. Close.
As I watch my eldest daughter trudge through these years of emotional ambiguity, forming friendships, losing friendships, fighting for friendships, and crying over friendships, I struggle with letting her figure out some of the intricacies of life on her own. Coming to the realization that there are things that she must learn through her own experiences, not through mine. Accepting that all I can do is show her the path, I can't force her to take it.
Encouraging her to dry her own tears and to just be herself, reminding her along the way that a true friend will accept you for who you are not the things you possess.
Having enough faith in her to let her discern for herself exactly what qualities she should expect in a friend and fervently hoping that she has the ability to hold herself to the exact same standards when it comes to reciprocating that friendship.
Hoping that she values the importance of love, generosity, support, and laughter not only within her friends, but within herself.
Crossing my fingers that she doesn't limit herself and is willing to open up her heart to others that she may not think she has much in common with. That she realizes that friendships don't necessarily require physical proximity in order to be successful.
Praying that she finds a tribe that will welcome her with open arms. One that will accept her as she is, faults and all, and support her until she achieves all the goals she has set for herself and push her to go farther than she ever believed she could go.
These next two years are going to be tough both physically and emotionally. Not only for her, but for me as well. As I sit back and watch her begin to form her own tribe, I will be incredibly grateful for my own tribe that will (hopefully) be there consoling me, advising me, laughing with me, crying with me, and occasionally sharing a glass of vino with me. After all, that is what true friendship is for.
June 6-8 I will gather with my tribe in Baltimore where we will laugh, we will cry, we will teach each other, we will learn from each other, we will enjoy our time together. Friendship on display. Join us, we will set a place for you.
This post is part of a series produced in partnership with BlogU and The Huffington Post for the upcoming BlogU conference in Baltimore, MD, this June 6-8, 2014. For more information and to register click here.