Celebrating Best Friends Day – My experiences of establishing a long-lasting friendship growing up

A Group of friends with their back to the camera, looking into the sunset

Today 8th June, marks National Best Friend Day and I thought I would share some of my experiences from growing up and trying to form friendships in school.

I know that I was privileged, I spent most of my schooling in private schools.  This meant smaller classes than you would expect in any other school. It allowed for a family type environment, but it also brought its own challenges. Disabled children can often miss out on experiencing full school life.

As I have previously spoken about, School was not my favourite place, in fact, I detested school! I dreaded going every day and I tried everything to get out of going to school. There were two main reasons for this; I wasn’t the cleverest in school, so I really struggled, and I didn’t have many (any) friends, so it was a very lonely and challenging place to be.

Moving from primary school to secondary school, I had hoped my classmates would be more mature. I hoped they would accept me for who I am. This was certainly not the case.  Secondary school was a lot tougher than I ever imagined, and the levels of bullying and exclusion from conversations, class tasks, and school activities only increased. In secondary school, I started to listen to music or the radio at any opportunity. This was to block out the negativity that I was experiencing on a daily basis. I literally had one friend I could talk to, but she wasn’t in my class.

Three girls sitting on the edge of something with arms around each otherThis situation continued through to the start of my A-Levels equivalent – then life changed. It was the first day of the sixth form and we had a massive common room, allowing all of the students to mix in one place. As in most schools, there were cliques in groups and each of those had their own table or area in the common room. This left a few of us who didn’t fit into any of these cliques, and we ended up on a table together. This was the very first time in my life that I felt I could say I had some friends. Our bond grew over the year, and we started doing things out of school which to me was an absolute novelty – I had gained a social life!!!

Roll on nearly 25 years and I am so pleased to say that the bond with a few of those girls still remains today. Two of those people I still see regularly. One in fact I class as my true best friend.  I am pleased to say that she is also heavily involved in Ability Consultancy as a director. She has been in my life through thick and thin, and we have shared so many amazing moments.  Over the years we have helped and supported each other through the hard times. I value her and my friendship more than she probably knows.  I am pleased to say that this friendship is going to last a lifetime.

As a disabled person, friends are hard to come by. I am absolutely determined to ensure that future disabled young people don’t have to experience what I did. This is one of the driving forces behind our school programme “see me not my CP”.

As you read this and think about your true best friend. Remember disabled people need true friends that will help, support and be a pillar of advice, so they can experience life as they should.