In high school, my best friend’s house was ripped apart by a tornado. It was a terrifying experience that shook their whole world. Everyone made it out safely, but it took years to rebuild both house and morale. Something like that leaves everyone changed. Everyone who helped put the pieces back together was enthusiastic and a little wonderstruck, but the most magnificent part of the project was also the most negligible: there were mountains of leftover wood. It was like leftover christmas cookie dough that’s too sparse to be put into a shape. But even when you don’t have enough to make a tree or a snowman, there will always be a use for leftover cookie dough.

This friend and I met when we were two years old, but over the years we slowly lost touch. Going to different high schools put us in different friend groups, and we became distant. We had been best friends, but we became acquaintances. So when I saw the pile of wood stacked in a monstrous metal garbage can, I joked that we should build a boat together. ccc

We had never intended to build the boat, but somehow the idea stuck. We both joked so often, that at some point it stopped being a joke. Soon, without realizing it, the plans were drawn. When Summer finally came and school was out, these once best friends returned to the mountain of leftover 2x4s and got to work.

During Adolescence, social situations change, that’s a part of life. It’s a period that comes with a separation from parents, and a changing of interests and development of friendships. Laurence Steinberg, in his book on adolescent psychology suggests that whether the separation from parents is real or symbolic doesn’t matter, the fact is, our social status is changing and therefore our relationship and identity follow suit (Steinberg). Adolescence is the age of opportunity: scientists talk about it as “a period of heightened brain plasticity” (Steinberg p 54). That means our brains are changing and developing in new ways, so our friendships and interests begin to change.

In the early years of America’s existence, “it was customary for adolescents to leave home temporarily and live with other families in the community, either to learn specific occupational skills as apprentices or to work as domestic servants” (Steinberg p. 79). Today's culture does not typically send our adolescents to trade schools, but teens create distance from parents in other ways, like using their bedroom or school as a haven and confiding in friends instead of parents. Our closest relationships exists among the people we spend the most time with, and are built around common interests, like Fortnite, sports, or maybe even building a boat.

With all of this transition, it is important to figure out how to interact with people on a social level. Whether to help deal with emotions, or just to find your James Bond-like suavité, learning to both give trust and earn it are crucial parts of growing up.

My friend and I eventually moved away from each other, but we still call every month or so. We still do holidays together and we still go see marvel movies together. There are flaws in our friendship, just like there will be flaws in any relationship, but it’s a friendship that has lasted. Our boat was never ocean-worthy, but we did get it out on the water. It immediately took water into it, but no matter how hard we tried to sink it, it wouldn’t go down.

No one could ever say it was a perfect boat. It wasn’t even a good boat, but the time, effort, and creativity that we put into it gave us a common experience and a mutual memory. Friendships aren’t always worth investing in, sometimes people aren’t the type of people you need to be friends with. The difficulty is that you can’t know that until after you’ve invested in them. Living in a world populated with people isn’t always easy, but if you can find someone that you connect with, the effort is entirely worth it.

Steinberg, L. (2016). Adolescence (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.