My Friday nights used to consist of going straight home after school, taking a two-hour nap, and then waking up and going on my phone until two in the morning. This seemed like my only option. I thought that by doing this, I was relieving my stress from the week by lying around and doing nothing, but I failed to realize how sick I felt after waking up. Not only did I feel sluggish and gross, but I also felt really lonely. That was topped with the guilt that I was living my life passively, going to school and back home without doing much else. It was a repetitive routine that was wearing me out. Where were the memories I was supposed to be making? Why was I avoiding living my life to the fullest?
That's why on the first Friday of junior year, my friends and I decided to begin going out and doing something, anything, after school at the end of each school week. We took advantage of the one day that we didn't have to immediately do homework so that we could all spend more time together and enjoy each other's company without the stress of school in the background of all of our conversations.
On the first Friday of the school year, I had my first AP Spanish class, which runs an hour longer than every other class, so my friends decided to wait in the lobby for me to get out. The previous night I only slept three and a half hours because I was catching up on all the summer homework I had yet to do. So, with tired eyes, I entered the elevator, and my back was already beginning to ache with the binders and textbooks I was carrying. Frankly, I was regretting the fact that I made plans when I could have gone home to sleep. I love my friends, but I couldn't help but think about my new weighted blanket waiting for me back home. I also didn't want to hang out with my friends if I was going to be tired the whole time because I didn't want them to take that as not wanting to be there, especially when they had been so sweet and waited an entire hour for me to get out of class. I pushed the beautiful thought of sleep to the back of my mind and walked out of the elevator and into the lobby. Micayla, Maddy, and Max were all sitting on the chairs in the lobby laughing at some joke the security guard made. When my tired eyes met their cheerful ones and their smiles, I knew there was no way I was going to bail on those beautiful human beings, the ones I had the utmost pleasure of calling my friends.
With a new burst of energy, we walked over to the Duane Reade right near our school and stocked up on all the necessary snacks and drinks needed for wherever the night would take us. This consisted of Red Bull, chips, and cookies. After that, we walked around for a bit and decided to go thrift shopping to give Max a makeover. With many wrong turns (no one in our friend group has very strong navigational skills), we finally got to the thrift store. We all tried on many clothes. Most did not fit, but the ones that did were gems. Not to mention, we transformed Max into an e-boy, which made for a very fun, unplanned photoshoot with his new look. We left the store with a few new clothes, a funky smell, and itchiness that didn't seem to go away until much later that night.
We later ended up at Maddy’s house, and after playing with her new kittens for a long time, we opened our snacks and started a Disney Plus marathon. We were half watching the Disney channel original movies (the crème de la crème of cinematography) while at the same time talking over it, to tell stories about our childhoods that resurfaced with the nostalgic movie experience. I uncovered stories about my friends that I had never heard before. Slowly I was getting to see new sides of them and learning more about them than I already did.
After watching Hannah Montana: The Movie and half of The Cheetah Girls 2, we all somehow ended up not on the couch, but on the floor telling each other stories. We talked about our awe at being juniors, our stress about becoming older, the fear of forgetting each other, and the hope that that could never happen.
Alas, after two hours of talking, the exhaustion from the week began hitting not only me, but my friends as well. The time came where our serious conversation slowly turned into hysterically laughing at anything that anyone of us said. We knew it was about time to go home.
After getting home, I couldn't help but notice how overjoyed I was. I hadn't felt so fulfilled with my own life in a very long time. The lack of my previous Friday tradition of taking a whole two-hour nap and scrolling through a never-ending social media page for a depressingly long amount of time was not missed at all. I was happy to trade it in for our new tradition of "Friday activity."
With the duties of one's everyday life, it is easy to get distracted from the greater significance of it. For me, since having experienced many Friday activities, I have realized that life is nothing if we don't take time for ourselves to enjoy it. At the end of the day, when I can't physically do the things I can do now, my memories are the only things I will carry with me. I couldn't continue walking through life as a zombie, because I was becoming all too comfortable with permanently being in that state, taking my health and youth for granted. I can never see myself doing that again. I hope that for many years in the future, I will continue to be able to do "Friday activity," and that I can find a passion that matches the joy I get from this tradition.
Sofia Mesh is an 11th grader at Millenium High School in New York City. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, reading inspirational literature, and international travel.
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