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Life With SMA: More Than a Second-Choice Friend

Posted on November 03, 2021
Article written by
Bryce Parks

OK, high school wasn’t entirely a good memory. Everyone is different, but we all have our own “worst part about high school” regardless. Here is mine.

Right From the Start

For starters, I moved to a new town after being home-schooled for about three years. Needless to say, the freshman experience was tough on me; I had no social skills and I was the new kid. Everyone had built friendships over the years. They were so tightly meshed together that I almost felt like it was pointless to even try.

Of course, being in a wheelchair was making the anxiety even worse. I’d have these constant, rapid-fire thoughts that all revolved around the question, “Who would want to be friends with a new kid in a wheelchair?” It was an exhausting first week of high school.

My Best-Case Scenario

As the year went on, I found myself making friends any way that I could and just being polite as much as possible. Making individual friends gave me a nice, intimate feeling after a multiyear hiatus from society.

The problem with this approach was that no matter how many new friends that I made, they always had groups to fit into when I only had maybe that one person. For example, if there was an opportunity to pick a partner during a project, I would be the individual friend a person would count on if none of their closer friends were around.

It’s not too easy to just become a part of a high school group, because there is usually a ton of history behind the friends in it. With that in mind, having individual friends here and there was the best-case scenario for the cards that I was dealt.

My Biggest Struggle With High School

All of this leads up to the hardest part of my high school career: I had so many amazing individual friends, but I never managed to find a solid group that I could cling to at all times. On a typical weekend, I could message a single friend, hoping they didn’t already have plans with their own groups.

That was the experience for a while. I had a seemingly endless desire to be more than a second choice for someone, that default person who is picked after someone else. I never thought of myself as a top choice for anyone throughout high school. The feeling didn’t ruin my life every day, by any means. It was more of a situation where some days were just harder than others.

The Glass Is Half Full

I choose to look at the four years of high school with a positive perspective, regardless of these struggles. Having so many individual friends meant that I had access to a variety of different friend groups — even if I wasn’t at the center of any of these groups. It was nice being able to diversify my social life in so many different directions. In some situations, my individual friends knew each other and I got to be a part of some groups on a short-term basis.

I Chose The Silver Lining

Even the worst parts of my high school experience had their positive aspects. It can be a little bit hard looking back at high school and remembering that stuff, but I don’t let it tarnish my overall memory of the entire experience. Those difficult memories may linger, but they never win out in my mind.

Columnists on mySMAteam discuss SMA from a specific point of view. Columnists' articles don’t reflect the opinions of mySMAteam staff, medical experts, partners, advertisers, or sponsors. Content on mySMAteam isn't intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Bryce Parks has SMA type 2. He hopes to make a difference to people through a variety of creative forms. Learn more about him here.

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