Friends Forever?

I’m in a strange spot when it comes to friends right now. I used to think that I was in this transition because most of my friends just weren’t around anymore, but the more I reflected, the more I realized that it went deeper than that.

I was hesitant to write anything about this, worried that I would upset or somehow offend the various friends that are in my life, the friends that have been around for a while, the friends that shared so many of my incredible experiences. This does not in any way discount the moments we’ve shared, nor does it mean that I don’t value our friendship. It is simply an honest reflection of the people we have been, the people we are, and the people we are becoming.

I had a teacher in high school who told me that high school friends wouldn’t last, that we would eventually lose touch, but university friends would stay with you forever.

My best friend and I didn’t believe him. We thought we’d beat the odds. We were two peas in a pod, inseparable. She was the milky to my way, the peanut to my butter. For a while, it seemed like he was wrong – we went to different universities but we still kept in touch and whenever we got together, it felt as though nothing had changed and no time had passed.

But now?

I sadly can’t say the same. Somewhere down the line everything changed. We both grew up, we changed, and we don’t seem to have grown together. Now I feel like we are strangers, two people who hardly recognize each other anymore.

I also can’t say that my high school teacher was right. I met some incredible friends during my university years, friends that I thought would always be there. They most definitely helped me to become the person I am today. But just the same, somewhere down the line, we changed and we became different people. There are moments when I can pretend that everything is the same, moments when it feels like we are as close as we used to be, but there are increasingly more moments where I feel like a stranger, like I don’t quite belong there, like we don’t understand each other, or like we can no longer relate to one another.

I think my high school teacher failed to account for one thing – experience. Perhaps, university was the glue that held his friends together because those were the shared experiences that defined who they were and who they became. For me and my friends, our defining experiences didn’t seem to happen together.

There is one moment that I think changed everything. The eight months I spent in Burkina Faso, apart from those friends, set us on different paths.

That time feels like the pivotal moment that changed all of us. My high school friends graduated and went on a backpacking trip through Europe together. It changed them and brought them closer together, while those experiences separated us. My university friends also experienced life changing events and moments together, such as becoming the president of Feds. I too came back from Burkina Faso a different person, with experiences that also separated me from all the people I left behind. For the most part, we experienced these eight months alone. We didn’t stay in touch, except for the occasional message. We didn’t share our experiences. Since I came back, I could feel the weight of that. It has mainly felt like I was trying to bridge a divide that was just too big. Too much had happened; too much had changed.

Coming to terms with these changes has been hard for me. I would spend time with my friends and all I could see was the way things used to be and how they weren’t that way anymore. I missed the friendships that we used to have, the bonds that used to hold us together. I would see the friends that I loved but only feel the distance that now stood between us.

I think we seek out the people in our lives for a reason, whether we’re conscious of it or not. Whether or not we stay friends, whether or not we find a way back to each other, I will always treasure the moments we shared and the things that they taught me. We once needed each other. Maybe that’s all that matters.

Thank you to all the people in my life who have helped me to become the person I am today. Thank you to all the people who will help me to become the person I will one day be.

 

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