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“All for one and one for all, united we stand, divided we fall.”The Three Musketeers

We’ve seen trios from popular culture, and they always seem like perfect, equilateral triangles sticking together and staying together. But out here, in the real world, these kinds of friendships are much more difficult than they seem.

Throughout my life, I’ve been one in a group of three. I have been that third Musketeer. Even now, in adulthood, I am part of what might be the best trio. But these friends and I had to go through life and friendships and heartbreaks to get to this point and this group we so love.

I think back to the trios of my past — those failed friendships with ghosts who still haunt for no reason other than one day we were friends, and the next, we weren’t.

I started middle school with a best friend, and shortly after we became a trio. It was difficult for a number of reasons. We were insecure and were not yet the people we needed to be. We were sometimes cruel, not including one or another in hangouts or instant messages, and for this, we found other friends. We drifted.

After high school graduation, I traveled abroad and became a trio again. We bonded over too many churches and a host mom and birthday pizza dates and all the mundane things that should bond friends together. And then we returned home. Two of us went off to college. Two of us stayed good friends. We talked and made time for one another. Then we, too, drifted.

It wasn’t until I went to graduate school with other people who understood me, loved me for my oddities, my kindness, my ambition — all of the things that make me, well, me — that I overcame the tribulations of the trio. We bonded over the struggles of writing, that one classmate with more pretension than any of us could fathom, the late night readings, and so many laughs. Then we graduated.

But still we are friends. We haven’t seen each other in months, and we don’t talk every day because we don’t need to do those things to stay friends. We love ourselves and each other, and we love the time when we are together. I think these are the reasons why all of my other trios crumbled the way they did.

Growing up is filled with disappointment and change, and today’s youth must also contest with social media and Facebook check-ins, knowing when one friend spends time with another without extending the invitation; so, the foundation of the trio begins to crumble. Hiding within the crowd, ignoring what makes us unique, focusing on the times when we’re not together — these are the things that break friendships.

So when I say my friends and I love ourselves first, it is true. We’re weird and crazy, and we sing showtunes during karaoke; and for this, we love each other, too. We never focus on the times apart but rather on the times we spend together. We appreciate that each of us is an individual first, which then makes up this trio. These are the things that help any friendship flourish rather than falter.

We are a trio, closely resembling those in the stories we so love — the ones that teach us there is possibility in the world. And with these friends, I do believe everything is possible.

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