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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Indy chapter.

Transitionary periods of life are integral to our growth as humans. They bring about new experiences, new attitudes, and new people. Maybe you leave home for the first time for college, you start a new job, or you simply start living your life according to new values. Whatever the reason is, no single person has the power to resist change. And with that change, we learn to adapt. Things come and go, you live and learn, and sometimes you lose things as well. Unfortunately, those things could be friendships. 

Over a year ago, I made a huge decision by choosing a college 6 hours away from home. For a while, the thought of it was invigorating. I was thrilled to fully be on my own, and a new environment satisfied my craving for adventure. But as summer quickly passed, and the days until move-in began creeping up on me, that excitement turned to fear. As I was shoving my belongings into bags and stacking them in my room, the chance I wanted so badly to take suddenly felt impossible. I had made as much time as I could to see my friends in the days before I left, but it didn’t feel like enough. Suddenly, all the years I had spent with them weren’t enough. I didn’t want to leave these friendships behind. 

I cried a lot before I moved in, and wiped my final tears the morning of. Though it was hard leaving my comfort zone behind, I knew it would benefit me. And that’s ultimately what I wanted all along, something completely outside my comfort zone. I just had to sacrifice a few important things to achieve that, but even then, those things weren’t gone forever. They were just farther out of reach. And I wasn’t going to let that distance stop me.

A trap many of us may fall into is shying away from connections that aren’t convenient. If someone isn’t right there in front of us, we don’t invest as much time and energy into it. These connections now require a second thought and additional effort. Despite how easy it is to keep in contact with people thanks to social media, the process of reaching out is still somehow difficult. Either we wait for others to find the courage to contact us first, or we second-guess our decision to be the one to text. After some time away, reaching out feels oddly desperate. 

Is there a secret recipe for rekindling a relationship? Do you just have to take the risk and reach out? The answer is yes. I’ve fallen into the loop of waiting for the other person too many times, and then feeling upset when it didn’t happen. I agree with the concept of protecting your peace and pouring into people who reciprocate, but it’s not an insult if somebody isn’t thinking of you the exact moment you want them to. That’s what communication is for. If you want to play a role in their life, then you need to show up for the auditions. Or, in the case of friendships, you need to be a recurring character each season. 

But despite all the texting and calling and commenting you do on someone’s social media, the connections can still change. What do you do in that case? How do you watch familiar faces fade away? This was something that I struggled with as soon as I returned home for the summer. I thought I did enough to remind my friends that I was there for them, but in reality, they went through huge changes that I wasn’t physically around for. There were new boyfriends I had to meet, new friends’ names I had to remember, and other additional developments. I was seeing the same paintings in a new light. But for some of my friends, I wasn’t able to see that they were entirely new pieces of art.

To reiterate an earlier theme, there’s nothing wrong with people changing. But sometimes, it can change the dynamic of the friendship. I’ve sat through lunch dates where the jokes didn’t fly as fast as they did a year ago. I’ve had conversations where the story being told didn’t seem to fit the type of character I thought I was talking to. And I’ve had interactions with friends that drained me when they used to energize me. In just a year, I realized just how much of that change I was excited about also impacted my friends. And despite the love I had for them, it was terrifying to sit across from someone who in a way, seemed like a stranger. 

The same thing happened when I returned to college. Everyone had different stories and interests and developments I didn’t see coming, no matter how much we kept in touch. I was happy for them and everything they grew through, but also a bit sad. Because I expected things to be the same as how I left them, and they weren’t. The comfort zone I had formed in college had to be readjusted, and I found myself feeling alone again, as I did when I went home for the summer. The goodbyes are always bittersweet, but the new beginnings can also bite. And in both areas of my life, home, and college, I missed out on some pretty big moments for my friends. Because I wasn’t there in the formation of certain memories, I was doomed to spend some time rebuilding. 

Some friendships are easily maintained with half the effort, and everybody applauds those types of relationships. Where life can pass by, millions of curveballs can be thrown, and the foundation remains stable, and everything feels the same as it was years ago. While the low-effort friendship dynamic is refreshing, I would argue it’s not realistic in every case. By reaching out to people, you’re making them feel valued. You’re taking time out of your day to make time for them. That speaks volumes as well, and we should also honor the act of pouring into your platonic relationships. Just as you would put effort into a romantic relationship, you need to show your friends love too. 

I wasn’t prepared for the characters in my comfort zone to evolve. And while I was overall proud of the people they’ve become, I at some point felt insignificant in their lives. This feeling made that 6-hour distance feel like nothing because when I was present, the distance between us felt longer. Over the summer, I wasn’t the first one they’d call to hang out. I was reaching out to make plans to no avail due to responsibilities involving work, family, or other additional conflicts. I was staying out late at night to hang out with people who had no time during the day, only to walk into work at 6:30 that morning. For someone who typically requires a decent amount of alone time, I was dying to do anything with anybody at any time. I wanted so badly to feel that same love and value I felt the week I left, where we all hugged and cried and reminisced. But it was like that never happened at all. 

I can’t deny it was hard and hurtful to come to terms with this difference. But I don’t fault anybody for it. I don’t resent them for it. Because I realize now that it wasn’t a bad thing that they had grown. That there was less room for me in their lives than before. In some way, there was less room for them in my life too. I left for college again the second time, less tearful and more excited to return. But I left after spending all summer trying to salvage some connections that had already peaked. The best of times had already come, and my role was reduced to rooting for some of them on the sidelines. And while I’ll miss the memories, I know that without them, I wouldn’t have grown into the girl I am today.

Sometimes, people progress past the need for you in their life. And while I know that these connections aren’t fully lost, all I can do is nurture what is left. All I can do is my best, and let everything else fall into the place it needs to be. I don’t believe I have to give up these people just because our friendship is taking a pause, but I won’t dwell on the details anymore. I won’t force myself to fit in. Change was integral to my growth, and it’s integral to theirs too. 

I’m forever happy I decided to go away for college, despite how different my friendship dynamics are. But I’m also happy that they’re finding their footing on paths I no longer follow. Because people come and go, like seasons. And who knows, maybe one day our paths will merge, and we’ll find each other once again.

Hi, my name is Sydney and I'm a sophomore at the University of Indianapolis studying Psychology with concentrations in Clinical/Counseling Psychology and Honors. I've been writing my entire life, and just recently decided to join the Her Campus team at UIndy to further indulge myself in something I love :)