Ironically, the idea for this blog post came as I was having a conversation with my best friend, who also happens to be my longest running friend, clocking in at nine years, six months and three days (shout-out to you, giggles). Before, and even after her though, I had a lot of friendships that didn’t always last, and a laundry list of people who came into my life at a certain time and left at another. And whenever I reflected on those moments, I always wondered if it was my fault. Why were some of my friendships so fleeting? Was this a natural part of growing up, or was I doing something wrong?
Well, I can tell you now that gaining and losing multiple friends throughout your life, especially in your teens and early twenties, is completely normal and perfectly okay. Even more, while it does have to do with you, it’s not in a negative way like your mind often let’s you believe. Instead, it just means you’re changing as you get older, and your interests and values are changing along with you. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always mean your friends will move in the same direction as you, or at the same pace. Quite often, maturity develops at different rates and the things you had in common with someone just don’t match up anymore, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
For me personally, I’ve experienced many different ways of losing friends, and some much more dramatic than others. I’ve slowly grown apart from childhood friends, battled a long distance friendship until the fight wasn’t worth it anymore, and a few different times I directly felt some of my friendships grow weaker as our morals and personalities started to contradict (which is my nice way of saying that sometimes my friends were bitches and I didn’t want to be). Whatever way it happens, it’s important that you understand what purpose the friendship served in your life at that point in time and what you can learn from it.
Some friends show you how to be a friend, others teach you how to let go of things that don’t make you happy anymore. For me, almost every single one of my best friends today I met through someone else. And in a twist of fate, the mutual friend(s) we met through are neither of our friends anymore. How about that for irony?
I want to also add that while it’s normal for friendships to dwindle, it also okay for them to reignite later in your life. Maybe you had a childhood friend that you grew apart from because of distance or some other circumstance, but life throws you back together again and the people you are today are moving in the same direction. It’s possible to get back to that place, or even have it be better than it was before (assuming the “older = wiser” thing is happening for you, cause some of us can’t count on that).
I think the bottom line here in all of this is to not worry when friendships change, and definitely don’t hold on to a long-term friendship just because you feel like you have to, even though it’s not what it used to be. The important thing to examine is how you feel when a particular friendship fades away. Do you find yourself thinking about them, reminiscing on memories and missing their presence in your life? Then maybe you fight to get it back, as long as the feeling is mutual. But if you are reflecting on that part of your past simply as a nice chapter of your life and not a subject of the rest of your book, then just focus on filling in the upcoming blank pages, remembering that the old chapters are still a part of who you are, just not where you’re going.