Updated: Jan 20, 2021
If you’re chilling in bed, scramming to finish Gossip Girl before they remove the show from Netflix, and still quaking over Ariana Grande’s engagement (I guess I’m very out of the loop because I had no clue she was even serious with someone), I am very proud of you. Good job. Enjoy your break and alone time. You deserve this detox.
I’ve been wanting to write a post about high school friendships for a while but I haven’t really been able to understand my own feelings on this subject (and I still don’t really). Friendship definitely has its peaks and valleys but it can be so painful to see someone change when you feel like you have stayed the same person all along. This post is kind of a sequel to my other post on ‘The Importance of Past Friendships’. Watching the people closest to you transform so suddenly is difficult. I know we’ve all been there. It is a universal experience of adolescence and teenage-hood that no one really knows how to cope with, we just feel anger, sadness, acceptance, and move on… but I want to talk about it. I want you to know that beyond the hurt is an important lesson, and it happens to everyone. So I’ll tell you my story…
To sum it up for the new people, my preschool friends and I rekindled a friendship during the rough years of 7th and 8th grade. All from different schools, we were the perfect fit. Loud, rowdy, quirky, silly, and with no filters. We knew each other for who we really were inside out and all barriers were broken. I'm talking all fitting into one bed during sleepovers, stealing clothes, prank calling crushes, spontaneous hangouts, and weeks away together at summer camp. We knew each girl's best qualities and her worst insecurities. The memories with the 5 of us from middle school taught me what friendship really was and the type of friend I can be when I feel most myself. But now everything has changed and it feels like our friendship will never be the same. The spectrum of where we all are now is quite polarized. I’m the one in the middle, where drugs and sex meets school, books, and strict parents. That’s honestly the story of my life. Stuck somewhere in the middle. The concrete cause of this distancing in our group is that we don’t need each other anymore. We made friends in school and weren’t reliant on daily Facetiming during lonely lunches. On Saturday nights, we had a choice… we had options. The slow fade of prioritizing new friendships changed everything. I’ll see a Tiktok of a perfect friend group, feel out of place in social gatherings, or post birthday shoutouts, just to replay the best of memories from what we WERE not what we ARE. We haven’t hung out as a group voluntarily in months, won’t Netflix party, blow up on our groupchat, or even Facetime all of us together. When we do see each other at a birthday party, it’s awkward. The inside jokes, they last. But not forever.
Now this is the hardest to write: My people don’t feel like my people anymore. For a while it seemed like I was the only one trying to hold everyone together and letting go has taken a much bigger toll on me than any of them know about or are experiencing too. And it’s all my fault. The pinnacle: a trip to the beach house where things got messy to say the least. In the moment, I had made a huge mistake and took some blame, but I knew everything bad that happened was all my fault. I was in the wrong. Our friendship together will never be the same and it’s all because I was trapped in the middle of something that was slowly growing apart. Slowly becoming toxic. And my carelessness and indecency leading up to the day at the beach house was the cherry on top. I will never forgive myself.
So let me get to the point…
1. People → Person
I figured out that you don’t need 5 best friends to be happy. You can have just 1. Big groups means more drama, intergroup clicks, and a bumpy trip down middle or high school lane. Plus, most of the time you’ll split up and move on. In the end, you’ll come out of it with someone who stayed by your side, having reconnected with an older friend, or started a friendship with someone new. In my case, all of the above have occurred. I miss the big group vibe SO much, but in a way, knowing you have individuals who will always be there and can be counted on is even better.
2. People Change
Cliche but true. People change. Life isn’t perfect. Family drama, personal trauma, a need to spread wings, finding who you are… everyone needs their space and time to deal with their own issues and explore. People change and that's just a part of life. It’s silly to expect that my 12 year old besties will be the same people all throughout the stages of ‘growing up’. I’m still not 100% there yet but I have to accept that I had an amazing chapter with them in my life, should be lucky for what it was, and I’ll leave it at that. If the group as a whole makes another appearance in the sequence of my story, they will be there for a reason. Not everyone can play the main character with the cooler side kick.
3. You Still Matter
All in all, I know I still matter to the people who were so present in my life just a few years back. They still know me better than 99% of the other half-friends in my life. We still had better conversations, funnier memories, and more tricky road bumps than any other group of people I know. I do know that deep down, each of them feel the same way. None of their new friends or lifestyles match what we had. This is what gives me hope. One day: college, mid 20s, early motherhood, or empty nesters, this group will reignite our flame.
My advice to you is that even if from a far they take on a new character, fall into an alternate archetype, and seem to cover up who you know they truly are, you still matter to them. They still think about you.
You can’t wait for people to run back to you. The best people in your life will stay by your side through thick and thin. Keep those people close and let the others become whoever they need to be because you’re so much better than chasing the past. Look forward and never bend your morals to keep up with the crowd.
You got this,