Close up of Karli’s head on a pillow. She holds a button pin that shows a rainbow wheelchair icon
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Friendships, Identities, And Self-Acceptance

Friendships are usually built on common ground.

When we’re younger, it’s based on less significant similarities, like having the same favourite band. But as we become older… our desire for sincere, platonic connection deepens. It turns into something more complex and multidimensional, even if we don’t consciously realize it. This, I suspect, is why humans naturally grow apart over the years.

I didn’t really have a clique until high school. I had friends during elementary and middle school, but they were scattered among various groups. In theory, this sounds fine and dandy. In practice, it makes things unnecessarily complicated. I couldn’t have a bunch of friends over at once because they didn’t get along. And you can’t push people to be friends with each other, it doesn’t work like that.

High school was a welcome fresh start. I had just moved across the country with my family and I knew absolutely no one in my age range. A lot of people would find such a big change daunting, but I found it exhilarating. It was a chance to reinvent myself. A chance to distance myself from my “girl-who-nearly-died-a-few-times-in-elementary-school” reputation.

Without trying to be inducted into a particular crowd, I hit it off with the queer kids. I’m not saying this in a “token gay BFFs” kind of way. I mean, all of us were on a path of self-discovery and self-acceptance. In varying ways and degrees, sure. But we were all headed in the same general direction. And we were all marginalized in a town that largely wasn’t.

I’ve always been visibly disabled, courtesy of SMA. People were going to jump to their own conclusions about it regardless of what I said or did. So the idea of self-discovery — on my own terms, without societal pressure — intrigued me, too.

"Neither disability nor queerness are choices, but we do get some say in where our journey with each takes us."

Our collective journey often led to my home. Literally. It served as our headquarters, so to speak. It was a consistent space for my friends and me to not only find ourselves, but also to be ourselves. Unapologetically.

For that time in our lives, it was exactly what we needed. I reflect on those years with a whole new appreciation for how it shaped us into who we are today. And I know we can still reach out, over a decade later, without it being weird or forced or uncomfortable. If that’s not what friendship should be, I don’t want to know what is.