1. First (and most important), they’re still friends with you, even after all the awkward years. Your college and work friends don’t know about the squeamish and scrawny specimen with braces that existed from 2009 to 2011. They don’t know that you weren’t aware of the importance of eyebrow upkeep until you were 16 (and they never will because you’ve untagged all the Facebook evidence). They definitely don’t know that you used to wear Uggs. Unironically. All the time. And loved it. Ugh.
2. Your high school friends know everything about you (and, despite that, still love you). It wouldn’t come as a surprise if they knew you better than you know yourself. They can read your facial expressions effortlessly and you swear they can sometimes read your mind, even if you’re not in the same place. The amount of information they know about you would be concerning, if it weren’t for the fact that you know the exact same amount about them.
3. You also know every embarrassing thing that has ever happened to them. From your freshman year of high school to your senior year of college, you and your high school friends have had no shame in recapping the most cringe-worthy stories and events without leaving anything out.
4. With that, at least one person in your high school friendship circle has a designated folder on their computer of embarrassing photos of everyone. It’s always threatened that The Folder will be exposed in slideshow form at your wedding. Where, of course, all of your high school friends will be in attendance. And presumably drunk.
5. Their family is your family, and vice versa. You hug their parents, you joke around with their siblings, and you snuggle with their pets. You’ve gone to family reunions and barbecues and have probably met their aunt’s cousin’s sister-in-law. Twice.
6. Your reunions are an Event. With a capital E. They’re spent with you all shouting over each other about stories and memories, laughing until your faces are in physical pain. Outsiders (especially the new significant other of one of your high school friends who decided he or she wanted to just “meet the gang” and was not mentally or physically prepared for what that entailed) can’t keep up. You speak your own language.
7. You may feel comfortable enough to be ~weird~ around your college and work friends, but that level of weirdness is nothing compared to when you’re with your high school friends. You get really weird.
8. All of you borrowed various items from one another almost a decade ago—and none of you have made an effort to return any of it. You have your friend’s gym shorts from 7th grade and she has one of your favorite books that she promised to return to you at the end of August 2013.
9. They keep you grounded. They’re not remotely afraid of telling you when you’re acting out or being dumb and irrational. It calls for some bickering and fighting, but in the end, you know they’re always (annoyingly) right.
10. Your high school friends provide you with a sense of incredibly comforting nostalgia every time you see them. It’s so seamless and easy to get back into the swing of things with them—no matter how far apart you now live or how infrequently you talk.
11. It’s been so long and you’re so dedicated to this group of people, you would unquestionably go on a murder spree with them if they asked. And you fully know they’d just ask in the group message that’s been going on since 2012. Doesn’t matter.
12. It says something about all of you if you’ve stayed friends beyond the graduation date. Stereotypically, high school friendships are based on very shallow characteristics and demands, which is why not many people maintain them later in life. But for us lucky ones, keeping our high school friends is an undisputed fact of life that you wouldn’t change for anything.