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An energetic personality is a blessing and a curse. When you’re little, it’s adorable, and people who get to know you at that age tend to accept it even as you grow older. However, the people you meet later in life, the ones who didn’t grow up accepting your excitableness, are sometimes caught off guard.
Even before I moved, I knew I was among the more energetic of my friends. Our complicated, magic-filled, and generally fantastical games were often my ideas and were moved along by my suggestions. I also knew that by the time we were ten years old, most of our peers no longer spent recess on an epic quest to defeat the Evil Witch or Dark Faerie or whoever. I knew these things, but it wasn’t until fifth grade, when I was no longer surrounded by my old friends, that my energetic disposition ever had an effect on me.
Upon moving more than 250 miles from my home, I realized just how out of practice I was presenting myself to new people. Somehow, my previously nonexistent shy side took over.
As far back as I can remember, my ideas and games had been something to be shared with my brother and friends only—adults were strictly forbidden. I don’t know if I thought they would be considered goofy or what, but, whatever the reason, the taboo spread to include all new people. I guess I assumed that if I continued acting as I did, someone eventually would and then I’d have to deal with that memory.
So I retired the faeries and witches, locked away the magical realms of swirling fog and boiling lava, and gave up my various telepathic and superhuman abilities. Although I missed my games, and the ideas and brainstorming that went with them, I had plenty of fun doing other things with my new friends, and that was sufficient.
But because I refrained from talking with them the way I had with my old friends, they never got to know the real me. It wasn’t until two years later, sometime in seventh grade, that I met the two people who would change that. They changed my entire outlook on life, and I now recognize them as two of the best friends I’ve ever had.
It’s amazing how long we lived practically next door without even introducing ourselves. I’d heard people call them Michaela (it wasn’t until much later that I learned to properly spell Makaela’s name) and Mackenzie. Makaela, I knew as the crazy—a good trait in my mental dictionary—girl who carried a sewing kit to school, and once turned her flip flops into gladiator sandals while waiting for the bus. I knew Mackenzie, the more introverted of the two, as someone who didn’t talk much, but was always either laughing (like a real laugh, not a fake chuckle), or glaring at the air as if she was going to kill it.
My most vivid memory of my early time in my new town is of walking home from the bus and overhearing a snippet of conversation between the two sisters and a boy who lived further up the street called Dylan. Makaela was describing the guidelines for some elaborate game that was—best I could figure—similar to Capture the Flag. Likely, if Makaela or Kenzie were to read this paper, they wouldn’t know what I was talking about; it couldn’t have been hugely important to them, but to me, it was almost a revelation. I’d had no idea that there was anyone my age willing to really get into games like that.
Two years previous, I probably would have walked right up there and introduced myself, but that didn’t happen.
For a long time, I was simply too intimidated to talk to them. Not because I thought they would hurt me (well, Mackenzie scared me a little), but I simply saw them, Makaela especially, as being on some higher level. Looking back, I can’t believe I actually thought of things that way, saw one person as being on a higher level than another. But at that point in time, that was just how I was.
Of all the crazy scenarios, it was actually our dogs that brought us together. Their family owned a monstrous husky-lab mix who liked to run off and was nearly impossible to catch. Mine owned an aging golden retriever-chow mix who played fetch with their rocks and pooped in the yard of a neighbor they didn’t like. On this particular day, their dog, Tuck, had escaped yet again and was running amuck in our yard. While chasing the monster, someone noticed Bear, the golden-chow mix and asked if he was ours.
With the adults talking about dogs and the younger siblings off on their own, we teenagers were left to our own devices. Once I was actually talking to them, I realized that they weren’t that intimidating after all. Makaela was a human being like anyone else, and Kenzie didn’t actually want to brutally murder the air she unknowingly glared at. The three of us got along quite well.
As time passed, and I began to consider the two sisters my friends, I began doing something I hadn’t in a long time: I let someone get to know me. Just like Makaela and Kenzie, who always seemed to say whatever was on their minds whenever they felt like it, I began sharing my ideas, even the dumb ones, without restraint.
This freedom wasn’t restricted to my time with Makaela and Kenzie. It carried over into my time with all my other friends and any new person I met. My relationships with other people became stronger and more numerous. I stopped being afraid of surprising people, and in fact began to take pride in the confused looks people give me when the first thing I say to them is “Hi! I’m Molly! Can I give you a hug?”
Meeting Makaela and Kenzie literally changed my life. Simply by being themselves, they inspired me to be me. I couldn’t have asked for better friends. They saved me from myself, and for that I owe them everything.