In the summer we’re on two totally different wavelengths and it’s frustrating
My name is Brochi and I’m fourteen years old. School just ended and I’m really, really not looking forward to summer camp. I’m not anti-social or introverted but I’m really not interested
in the camp scene. The kumzitzes, the non-stop noshing, the amusement parks, the sweating, the sports — it’s just not my style. Especially the pool. I do not enjoy getting wet with a bunch of other girls in swim dresses. I think it’s awkward and I don’t enjoy it. The problem is that my mother absolutely refuses to let me get a job as a counselor this summer instead of going to camp. She tells me I have very few years left to enjoy being a teenager with no responsibilities. She doesn’t want me to jump the gun on adulthood and miss out on all the fun my friends are having. She says she knows what’s “better for me.” But what she doesn’t understand is how much I dislike camp. I love being with my friends, especially my best friend Nechama, but they’re all enthusiastically involved in the camp scene. While I’m sitting on the side grumbling, Nechama is captain of color war. Uch, Color War. I forgot about that one. One of my ultimate non-favorites. But the bottom line is I feel like I’m too mature for this type of silly fun, and Nechama being in the thick of things makes me feel even worse. She doesn’t see how silly it looks to me — to stand in a gym with red face paint on, screaming at the top of her lungs. Why can’t she realize that getting sopping wet and having a shaving cream fight is the ultimate form of ridiculous nonsense? If I could get her to be less involved, and be with me more, then I wouldn’t be dreading camp as much. I want her to wake up and see that my type of fun can be great as well. Going to the beach, baking, malls — you know, stuff like that. In the summer we’re on two totally different wavelengths and it’s frustrating.
Hi, I’m Nechama. Camp’s around the corner and I’m so excited! I look forward to camp all year! Give me anything that involves sun, water sports, and ices, and I’m good to go. I love the team spirit, working together with other girls to win Color War or the basketball championship. I’m usually head of everything because I’m relentless. I won’t stop until I win and I usually do. In my opinion, camp should be a full month longer because it always ends too soon. School’s way more boring and I hate studying for tests and writing papers.
Anyway, as we get closer and closer to camp and the excitement and anticipation are building up, I’ve noticed my friend Brochi is getting less and less talkative. I know she doesn’t like camp but I think this year she’s really dreading it. I just don’t understand why. Camp’s great!
During the year we get along fine but every summer we sort of drift apart and I’m already feeling bad about it. I wish she’d participate more and then we could do everything together. Brochi’s really determined when she puts her mind to something, and I know she’d be a great asset to any team she was part of. But she just won’t. I’ve tried to get her more involved in the past, but she’d always snort and sit on the side, just waiting for the activity to end. I mean, where’s the fun in that? After a few attempts I just stopped asking her to join and she stopped asking me to stay with her, and that was that. That’s how our summers have been. It’s probably worse for her; at least I’m having fun! But I’m still going to feel guilty if I catch her sitting on the side in utter boredom. So how do I split myself? Should I? I don’t want this summer to be like all the others. I would rather we have fun together.
I’m smiling as I read your questions. Friendship is such a beautiful gift and I’m so happy to hear about the special relationship that you share! It’s evident from your letters that you share a friendship of mutual respect, enjoyment of each other, and loyalty.
One of my favorite expressions is, “diversity is the spice of life.” Differences are what make life fun and interesting. If we all had the same personalities, hobbies, likes, and dislikes, we would have a boring world!
Learning how to navigate difference in relationships is an integral and rewarding life skill.
Respect is key to maintaining relationships and getting along with all kinds of people.
Since respect is such an integral aspect of our lives, it is important to understand what it entails.
What does respect mean? And how can you practically achieve that with your friendships?
Respect means value. If we value something or someone, we will accord it the proper honor, or respect. Every person has a Tzelem Elokim, a piece of Hashem. That makes every person incredibly valuable and worthy of respect. Regardless of their actions and mistakes, they are still eternally valuable because of their Tzelem Elokim.
If we keep that knowledge at the forefront of our mind, we will view our friends and relationships through a different lens.
Nechama, you love camp! That’s wonderful.
Brochi, you don’t enjoy camp as much. You are just as wonderful! You don’t need to be the same in order to be close friends. You do need to understand, respect, and accept your friends despite their differences.
Nechama, you can have fun in camp and get majorly involved without needing Brochi to do the same.
Brochi, you can enjoy camp from the sidelines without getting nervous by Nechama’s camp spirit.
You should both make up ways that you can still bond while in camp without compromising on your individual interests.
Maybe you can walk together during rest hour. Maybe you can set up something to do, learn, or play during the long Shabbos afternoons, replete with free time.
The main goal is to enjoy each other’s company and respect each other’s differences without trying to change them. If you can master this skill, it will help you with all future relationships, and marriage, im yirtzeh Hashem!
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 870)
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