This story takes place 30 years ago at Disneyland on Grad Night my senior year of high school. This was a tradition where high school seniors got to spend the evening through the early morning at Disneyland. We were required to dress nice because this was a special night! Other high schools were invited the same night so there were a lot of young people.
In high school I had about 3 separate groups of friends that I regularly enjoyed hanging out with. I took for granted that I would have had plenty of people to spend time with that evening. The problem was I was so excited on the bus that I didn’t make plans with anyone! And before I knew it I couldn’t find any of my friends. I was at Disneyland all by myself! I spent the first 15 minutes in a panic as I wandered Disneyland hoping to find someone I recognized. A friend of mine from class saw me and she called me over. She was definitely a good friend but not a part of the usual social circles I hung out with. What was cool is she invited me to join her and her 4 other friends. I never like to feel like a charity case but it was clear that they all were more than happy to have me join them. It also worked out because on the rides, even numbers work better so everyone was able to have someone to ride with and I was the only guy in the group!
That day was special because I was able to make 4 new friends and some of those friendships continued after that night. It went from being nightmare to being one of my favorite experiences. To this day, despite the 30 years that have past, there are certain places in Disneyland that still bring me back to those special moments. Here are some examples. One is the Mad Hatter shop in Fantasyland where there is a mirror above where they embroider hats. I remember looking up and liking how sharp I looked dressed up but more importantly seeing myself so happy being with my old and new friends. Another was on the Peter Pan ride that heavily used black lights. I had a couple of false teeth on a retainer that for whatever reason glowed and so I moved them in my mouth in a way to make them look like fangs and scared my friend whom I was sitting next to. I was also able to give some male advice to a couple of the girls in the group.
Sometimes, despite the fact that I am well loved by my friends, I used to have a fear of being abandoned by them. Today it is rare that I feel that way but sometimes it is hard for me to put my heart on the line and those negative feelings come out. The friends that have been vulnerable with me and have shown that they care I hold close to my heart. I am grateful for them.
Give the people in your life a chance to show that they care. You are worthy of being loved as you also love the people in your life. Be vulnerable and be willing to take risks with your heart.