Growing pains and parting ways

Opinion

Hi everyone, I hope you’re all having a happy and healthy month leading up to APs and final exams! Welcome to another round of getting lit in the opinions section with Janvi.

Today, I’m going to be discussing a pretty sensitive but also important topic for us: friendship. Or more specifically, what to do when a friendship begins to come apart. Now, I know that this is an issue that we usually shrink away from because we always talk about making more friends, and no one really wants to think about losing a friend (or several). It’s just uncomfortable to consider the reasons why things didn’t work out between yourself and others.

But it’s something that happens very often, especially in the crucible of high school and college, and chances are that it’ll happen to you. So today I’m going to share some insight I’ve gained on changing friendships during the past couple of years.

First I want to address the ways in which we usually lose friends in high school. Let’s start with the most volatile way: the dreaded Fateful Fight. Everyone wants to be right, or at least heard out, and sometimes arguments happen. These can stem from differences of opinion, from shady comments, or really anything at all. We all know how it is. But when those minor arguments snowball, or become personal, things can get ugly fast.

Even though we all say we hate drama (with varying degrees of honesty), we each experience a fair share. Arguments can get blown out of proportion easily, though it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in the thick of it. And then everyone’s making vicious attacks on one another and suddenly you end up sans friend. It can happen so fast!

The best way to bounce back is to talk it out, especially if you realize you were in the wrong! People want to be friends with people who admit their mistakes. Here’s a quote from a Buzzfeed article that sums it up nicely: “If you still want them as a friend, consider being the bigger person and apologising, or reaching out. There are worse things than being the one to bend first. And if they still don’t want to work it out, at least you know you did everything you could.”

Other times, and most commonly actually, you just drift apart bit by bit from your friends, until you realize that like two very similar organisms who underwent allopatric speciation (s/o to Allerton), there’s too much of a difference between you to really connect anymore. I remember thinking in freshman year of the people I was instant best friends with, “wow, these are who I’m going to be best friends with for, like, the rest of my LIFE.” Incorrect! High school is truly one of the most volatile times in anyone’s life, and there’s a 130 percent guarantee that your friend group WILL change at some point.

When people drift apart, it’s usually because you don’t share the same classes or clubs or sports, because you’ve found different paths and interests or new friends, or simply because it’s harder to keep a conversation going than it was in the past. Most of the times there’s really no malice involved here, no bad blood. I’m still very friendly with all those people in my freshman year “squad,” just not as close, per se. We can still bond over old memories and laugh about memes, but that attachment isn’t there. And that’s perfectly alright!

While it can be disappointing to realize that you and someone else are growing apart, it’s always fun to be able to hang out occasionally and smile when you pass each other.

Sometimes you drift away from a person because the path they’re on is one that you just can’t identify with, or because little points of tension all throughout the friendship just make it exhausting to keep up with all the time.

That’s okay, too. As we all grow up and figure out who we are, it’s fine to become separate from someone whom you were very close to in the past. Here’s an excellent (though unattributed) quote: Sometimes growing apart from a friend makes you realize you didn’t lose someone as a friend, they just never were one. This scenario is a bit of a downer, but growing apart from an old friend is totally natural and expected, so no worries.

On the flip side, sometimes friendships end very abruptly, leaving you in the dust. Though it’s tempting to play the victim card and focus on nothing else, one must keep in mind that the other person deserves to find their own happiness.

In just the way that we value our autonomy and want to cut off toxic people and those we don’t like, we have to respect that others may do the same, sometimes to you. People – including you, including them – are allowed to leave you, to not want you in their life, to move on completely from you. It’s a terrible pill to swallow but at the end of the day, everyone deserves to find their own happiness and sometimes their picture of happiness just doesn’t include you.

When these one-sided friend breakups happen, they may take the high road and come up to you and explain that they don’t really want to be friends with you anymore, giving you a reason and creating some closure. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best case scenario.

Of course, however, that’s incredibly rare and sometimes friend breakups will come in the form of awkward text conversations or butchered messages through a middleman.

But often the most painful instance of all is being ghosted. When a close friend stops speaking to you out of the blue, for no discernible cause, it’s absolutely devastating.
The person on the receiving end of the silent treatment wants answers, to know why this is happening to them for no rhyme or reason.

And I hate to break it to you, but these are answers you probably won’t get. Some people will leave your life without uttering a word, and will never text you on your birthday, won’t smile in the halls, or even meet your eye again. It happens, and it’s heartbreaking.

Here’s where I’ll say not to follow in my footsteps: DON’T tear yourself apart for months after in search of answers. DON’T overanalyze your last conversation, DON’T question your entire friendship looking for the mistake you made to set them off. It’s fruitless and only hurts more, I promise. Think about their actions – if they saw fit to walk out without looking back, that’s all the closure you’re getting, and all the answers you need to know. They have spoken through their actions, and it’s no use tormenting yourself when they clearly aren’t bothered.

That was a lot. I know. Take a deep breath, and let’s keep going. Almost there. Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: How to move on when friendships end. There comes a time when you finally realize that, hey, this friendship can’t really be salvaged, so what now? Here’s how to start that tough process of moving on.

First, I like to make a list of reasons why things didn’t work out. There’s usually a myriad of factors that contribute to the split, so getting them out on paper really helps me see what went wrong and where. That being said, having a list and reflecting on it is a huge step to healthier friendships in the future– either by steering clear of those who repeat those harmful actions or helping you learn to be a better friend in the long run.

Second – and listen closely when I say this! – don’t talk trash. If things ended on a bad note it can make you feel incredibly angry and make you want to lash out, but trust me, that’s a bad move for several reasons. First, it’s venomous. Hate breeds hate and makes you a meaner person, which others will catch on to. Talking trash is also so dangerous, especially when it’s with mutual friends! No matter how airtight and understanding a person may seem when you’re spilling all the tea, it’s high school.

Word gets around that you are obsessed with a person who doesn’t want to be your friend anymore, and chatting behind someone’s back opens the door wide open for them to do the exact same with you. Instead, keep their name out of your mind and mouth as much as possible. You shouldn’t have to spend energy thinking about people that bog you down. If a person doesn’t reciprocate the energy you’re putting in, back off, don’t check their social media, don’t lurk. It’s not worth getting your feelings hurt again.
Instead, let your feelings out by talking to your family about it, or writing, or just lying on your bed and crying.

A good cry really helps reset and refresh your perspective, no joke! But most of all, remember to be kind to yourself and others. Losing a friend, whether it was because you didn’t click anymore or for some greater, hurtful reason is just an opportunity to learn.

So remember that everything gets better with time and that we are newer and more wonderful with every passing day if we let ourselves grow. And even if it doesn’t feel that way now, eventually you’ll be able to appreciate all the curveballs that were thrown at you by life because you’re all the better for it.

That’s it for now; thank you so much for reading this! I hope this was helpful, and I send you all love and light on your friendship journeys. Until next time, stay woke.