I spent my late teens experiencing quite a severe case of social anxiety. When I was in high school, it reached a point where I didn’t know how to speak or move around in the classroom. As soon as I got to school, my body would shut down and I stopped functioning. So, I used to spend most of my time sitting silently and still at my desk waiting for the time to pass.
I had such a hard time communicating with my classmates, but in my second year, I met somebody who became my very special friend. She was also experiencing similar symptoms of social anxiety and was being awkward in the classroom. One day, we started to talk and have lunch together, and I discovered that with her, I could talk naturally and properly and even laugh out loud at times.
For the rest of my time at high school, I found quite a wonderful paradise in the shade of shiny school life with this friend. We ate lunch in a cluttered earth science classroom, sometimes went to the riverside with blankets to talk hours about life, and we even skipped a few classes together to enjoy the view from the rooftop.
When it was time for us to graduate, I wanted to do something special to celebrate our friendship. My hometown was famous for hot springs, and knowing that we both loved spending time in a quiet place, I suggested that we make an overnight trip to one of the hot spring resorts. Usually, these hotels are expensive, but since it was a graduation season, there were many special offers for people like us. I found a particularly affordable offer, something called “friendship plan,” and reserved a spot for us.
That trip was truly remarkable and most memorable. The hotel was tiny, but very well-maintained, and above all, the staffs were kind. Despite the fact that we were mere teenagers, they treated us like proper guests and made sure that our stay was comfortable. There was nothing gorgeous about the facility, but the quality of the hot spring, the room, and the food was superb. We spent our time talking endlessly about our life, both struggles and dreams, and making comments about how amazing each piece of our experience was.
The time flew, and it was soon time for us to leave the hotel. There was a complimentary coffee and tea service in the morning. My friend and I were sitting in a beautiful lounge sipping coffee looking over a green garden outside when I found a gift shop next to the entrance.
“Let’s check inside. Maybe there is something interesting!”
I said and led our way to the gift shop.
Among the touristic gifts, I found a pool of different coloured stones. There were small empty bottles next to it with a sticker with the name of the hot spring resort. When I asked what it was, the hotel staff told us that we could fill a bottle with whatever stones we liked. That moment, a brilliant idea dawned on me.
“Let’s fill one bottle each, and make it a gift to each other!”
My friend’s face lit up, and she replied with a grin and thumbs-up.
Thus we spent the next few minutes choosing the stones to put in the bottles. As I picked stones, I made wishes for my friend’s fulfilling future. When the two bottles were full, we paid at the cashier, and exchanged the bottles. We both thought that it was a wonderful way to celebrate our friendship and close this epic graduation trip.
The bottle of stones my friend gave me has always been with me since. Thanks to its tiny size, I can even carry it with me on a trip. And whenever I look at it, the amazing memory of that graduation trip will come back to me with its full colours and details and I’m reminded of the gift of this friendship that I have with her.