This I Believe: I Believe in Friendship Bracelets
When I was about 8, I went to a camp called PAVE. It was a theatre camp, and at the end of every session, we would put on a play for all the parents. This particular session, there was a friendship bracelet fad. Our art teacher tried to teach us how to make them, but for some reason, I never “got it.” The process of tying a bunch of strings together and ending up with a bracelet was too confusing. At the end of the session, the other kids in my group had arms covered in bracelets that they exchanged with each other. I pretended not to mind that all my friends had a physical symbol of their friendship while I didn’t.
Eventually, that fad ended. Before I knew it, I was 16, and about to enter my junior year of high school. I hadn’t thought about friendship bracelets for years, until my family was coming home from vacation. I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw a video of someone making a bracelet. I initially thought nothing of it, and scrolled past. However, a few hours later, I found myself searching “how to tie friendship bracelet knots,” and “how to read friendship bracelet patterns.” By that evening, I had watched at least five tutorial videos.
I don’t know what initially compelled me to learn to make friendship bracelets. I wish I could give that particular day sentimental value, but I think I was fueled through pure teenage boredom.
The thing that kept me making these bracelets at first was the show I was in. I was in “Matilda,” and I was the oldest person playing a kid. The younger kids in the show looked up to me, and I wanted to make them all something to remember me by.
I really thought that would be the end of an era, and by the beginning of the school year, I would be out of my bracelet phase, but I was wrong. Every show I was in, every new friend I made, even every time I was bored, I would make a bracelet. When I was a camp counselor at PAVE, I sat down with every kid that was interested and taught them how to make bracelets too. Now my arms are covered in bracelets, and even more line my bathroom counter.
As a kid, I wanted so badly to be like everyone else, and I felt like I stuck out – but not in a good way. Now, I embrace all those personality traits that younger me was ashamed of. I’m bold, I’m loud, I’m outgoing – and now, I try to pass along this acceptance to the younger kids who look up to me. I like that my love for bracelets makes me stand out, and I hope that by being myself, I influence the kids who look up to me to be proud of who they are.
This I Believe Illinois is NPR Illinois' annual essay program for Illinois high school seniors. An expression of where their minds are as they prepare to enter the adult world. This I Believe was started by radio journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1951 to allow anyone able to distil the guiding principles by which they lived. Special thank you to our sponsors: The Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise, BLH Computers, Illinois Times, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and Mary Beth & Harvey M. Stephens.