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We all know that our 20s are meant to be some of the best years of our lives; you might be at uni and about to graduate before you get your first job (hopefully in the career you were wanting), you might buy your first property, get engaged or even married. You might even have a child in your 20s. It’s such an exciting time of change and personal growth, even if it’s in the middle of a pandemic! I think it’s fair to say that we all know friendships change over time and that nothing stays the same forever, but I wish I’d known how much some of my friendships would change during my early 20s. 

When I left school at 18 I never thought I would stay in touch with everyone, that’s a pretty hard job when you’re in a year of 80+ but I knew there were several people I would stay in touch with, possibly forever. Well, turns out I was wrong. There were about 20 people I thought I would still be talking to regularly, but that list is closer to 5 or 6 now. This was something that I noticed at the end of first year, when I saw on snapchat or messenger that the last time I spoke to some of these people was well over a year before and now is mostly limited to Christmas and birthdays. It came as a shock in some ways that both parties just stopped messaging but just because we don’t talk anymore, doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten our friendship. Some of these people were my closest friends at school, and who is to say we won’t become close again. There’s no reason you can’t reach out to old friends and re-kindle relationships. In fact, some of the strongest friendships are made that way because then you know you can last the time and distance and will still have an amazing friendship at the end of it. Sometimes breaks in friendships can be a good thing too. I know that if I bumped into some of those friends we could have a lovely catch up. I also know I don’t need to speak to them everyday, but checking in every once in a while is still nice. 

While my friendships with school friends changed, I know the same will be true of uni friends once we’ve all graduated and are in new jobs. Once that happens I think it will come as less of a shock and it will still be equally lovely to see them all when we meet for a coffee once every few months or even to just touch base at birthdays. Some people are meant to stay in our lives forever, others come and go, and others just disappear after time, but that doesn’t mean their friendship wasn’t valued when they were part of our lives. 

I think the thing that shocked me the most in my 20s was growing apart from some of my closest friends. I’ve known some of these people since the age of 6 and moving away from home, gaining independence, finding new hobbies, friends, and a clear difference in opinion made us grow apart. And this really hurt. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t cried over it because growing apart from a friend is very much like grieving. When you go through a break-up it hurts like hell, and I think a friendship break-up hurts just the same. This was a person that you thought would be part of your life forever and then all of a sudden they’re not, but you still have a constant reminder because of social media. It’s upsetting and hard to move on from, but it will get better. There’s no reason to say in the future that we won’t become close again, but sometimes we just need some space and time to get a clear head.

I have always preferred having a few close friends instead of being part of a massive friendship group. Having those friends you can really count on when you need them is so important and I love them all so much. I also think it’s fair to say that I go to different friends for different pieces of advice, just as I would go shopping with some of them, or out to dinner with others. Having a close circle of friends is invaluable and I honestly don’t know what I would do without them all! 

Sophie is in her final year at the University of Exeter. She is the President and Campus Correspondent for the Exeter Chapter of Her Campus. Sophie would love to work in the media when she graduates because of her love for reading and editing... in fact as you read this she is probably wishing that she was lying by a pool with a good book and an iced coffee!
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