Edited by: Maya M. Haidar
Over the course of the twenty years of my life, I have had many friends—quite a few of them whom I have called my “best friends”. A lot of the time, these friendships formed due to happy coincidences, such as the teacher’s random seating plan, while other times it was because of a huge pile of common interests. When I recollect all the friendships I’ve had, it’s like looking at a Pokémon evolution of my own growth as a person.
We’re all constantly striving to be the best versions of ourselves, but unfortunately, that may not fit in with everyone around us. Just as how we grow out of our clothes, sadly enough, we grow out of people too. If you still have a close friend from your childhood, I am jealous of you, because it means that you and that person grew up together—your vibes matched up despite the different phases you might have gone through. The older you grow, the more your friendship is put through all sorts of pressure tests, like relationships, distance, conflicting viewpoints, etc. It may not withstand all of it; our priorities change over time, as do our expectations from people. We are not obligated to remain friends with someone once these differences have started to take a toll on our well-being. Thankfully, I have had a (mostly) consistent group of friends so far.
My oldest “continuous” friend (let’s call her S) is someone I have known since the sixth grade. When I weigh every friend I’ve had before against her, it sometimes seems like I did not have a “best friend” before her. Of course, I definitely did, but the experiences I had with them do not seem as relevant to me or who I am today. Strangely enough, how I became friends with her is because of something I considered a tragedy back then. Going into sixth grade, my school did something absolutely treacherous: they shuffled classes, mixing up the different divisions. Thinking from the POV of an eleven-year old, this was the end of the world, especially because there was only one other person from my previous class here. Obviously, I exclusively hung out with the only person I knew for a while—until she became friends with S. We became super-mega-ultra-best friends only after the classes shuffled again and the “middle” friend was gone. S and I were polar opposites, personality-wise, but somehow we always had a lot to talk about. Thinking back, I don’t know what had fuelled our friendship, but I think that’s what makes it so special. Since then, I have never been lonely, because more and more interesting and genuine people have found their way into my life and haven’t left.
Some friendships can restart, no matter how long you’ve been out of touch. I used to go for entrance exam coaching classes from seventh to tenth grade. I found myself in a group of five people, and we were considered the “cool kids” there. It is a strange relationship I share with this group, because I only used to see them once a week for a few hours. Yet, we became very close, very fast. After we all entered the eleventh grade, we only saw each other once or twice a year. Regardless, every time we did hang out, it was like nothing had changed; we would just pick up where we had left off six months ago.
I believe everyone can relate when I say “friends” is a very ambiguous term during your first semester of college. It’s a fresh start, when you wipe the board clean and are briefly free from any preconceived notions people may have about you. The first week, you meet so many new people that you hardly remember their names. You also may be in some small “friend” group, initially, thinking “Woah, I’m definitely going to spend the rest of my college life with these people”. Alas, if only life were so simple. Orientation week-friendships almost never last, and two years later you’ll find yourself awkwardly smiling at those people you had met in the hallway. Don’t stress about it, though, because you’ll make much more organic friendships around halfway through your first year. College friends are like moss, in that they’re just…always there around you. You eat all three meals with them, go for parties with them, go out with them, and if spending pretty much every waking moment with them wasn’t enough, you stand in neighboring shower stalls and bicker. What could we even talk about when we all do the same things? It fascinates me how I can do everything with the same people, and still never get bored.
Even though I’m not a religious person, I have to say I often feel blessed to have all the friends I have today, from school, college and everywhere in between. They’re there for every existential crisis, every life decision, bad or good; they’re there to read every article or blog and on days I’m feeling particularly crabby, they’re there to listen to me complain about the world.
But every now and then, I still think about S. I’ve had no contact with her for over eight months, and neither have any of our friends. She inexplicably disappeared from all social media and disabled her number, and although we’ve all tried a lot, we have not been able to reach her. During these trying times, I’m grateful to have friends to contact, but I don’t know if she has this privilege. The framed picture of us that sits on my desk serves as a bittersweet memory of a person whose whereabouts I do not know: my first best friend.