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No, I haven’t stayed close with friends made before Uni. Why? Have you?

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 IUP chapter.

We are constantly reminded—on social media—of the lives led by everyone around us. In the same breath, though, we are also told not to compare ourselves to anyone (oh the wild contradictions of society, right?)

While I can appreciate the fact that I am on my own journey, at my own pace, on a different path than anyone else… there are certainly times when I question the people on the path beside me. I am a big overthinker and when I see others remaining friends with people for years or decades on end, I definitely overthink my own situation and compare myself to them.

I’m at a weird stage in my life now.

Fortunately, and unfortunately, I imagine that this stage will last a few more years. This is the stage in which everyone around you is like you, but somehow living in stressful paradoxes—they have money, but not enough; have dreams, but so far to go; healing, but hurting—but are all doing something wildly different yet feel relatable enough to be friends. This is the stage where you see people that are still in university, maybe they’re moving onto postgraduate school, having babies, getting married, traveling, and some starting careers.

I’m referring to our early twenties; how we’re doing so much so fast and everything seems permanent, yet so fleeting, and like the start of something new all at once! It’s overwhelming, honestly. Within all of this confusion, there are friends beside us. These are friends we’ve known for years and years. You know the ones. They’re in all the graduation pictures, all the birthday photos from years ago, maybe you even took a trip together. As all our lives are beginning, I see so many of these friends excited to put each other in their wedding parties, or maybe even so excited to make these friends the godparents of their newborn child. When I see all of this, I can’t help but be excited for these people, but then I become wistful about my own future. Who will be the godparent of my child? Who will be my maid of honor at my wedding? Will I ever be in those roles for anyone else?

The idea for this article came to me, about a year ago, when I went through a distant, awkward patch with two friends. When we were moving on from this time, I was experiencing some bullying from a new organization I joined. One of these friends (Emily), assured me that she couldn’t understand why anyone would dislike me at all… unless perhaps they took issue with the way I “switch friend groups.” She told me that some may find it weird the way I “dip (my) toe into different friend groups, but never stay long. Maybe people question (my) reasons for being there, or if (my) intentions are real.” Clearly, it was not how “people” may feel, but rather just Emily projecting, but it got me thinking. Is it okay that I don’t stay in the same friend groups forever? What does that mean? Do I even care?

After thinking for a while, I examined my immediate reaction. Oddly enough, when she first told me that my behavior might be ingenuine, I didn’t feel hurt or struck by her words at all. Looking back, I think that’s because, at the core of my character, I knew it wasn’t true. I heard her, I thought about it, and I knew my heart well enough to know that wasn’t me in any capacity. So then I thought, if that isn’t me, where is that perception coming from? True, that sounds like her projecting negativity onto me. But, also true, is the fact that I don’t stay glued to the same people forever. Forget sticking to friend groups, I barely keep the same best friend for more than 2-3 years. I often drift from others when life gets in the way, or other projects take up my time. Within my four years of university, I’ve even drifted from friends—and have indeed tried out some friend groups—that just weren’t a good fit. Emily may have been trying to passive aggressively tell me this was a bad thing, but I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t have to be, in fact, it’s okay to grow!

I have to confess, that I have absolutely gone through phases where I thought I was the problem in a friendship breakup. I’m sure that I have been, but whether I’m at fault for a friend breakup or not, I can’t deny that they’ve happened and they hurt. From the ages of 15-25, we change so rapidly, and the friends we make during this time frame certainly are liable to change. I personally find that each year, I’m not the same person I was the year before. I’m actually quite proud of this. I make mistakes, and I’ve grown to learn how to own up to them and accept the consequences. I’ve grown to realize when other people make mistakes that it doesn’t define them, and I’ve learned to have grace for them and recognize people are human: mistakes happen. I grow every year and I’ve changed from once being so critical and judgmental of myself (and others as a reflection of that), to someone that sees value in others and their perspectives.

I didn’t always think this way at 14, 17, or 20, but I am thinking like this at 22. I’m not the same year to year, and why should I be? Gratefully, I find that I am changing and growing so much that maybe the same friend group won’t always be right for me. Not everyone grows at the same rate, and your journey is your own.

It should be noted that I write this article from a place of mindfulness and reflection. This final point may come off as a bit defensive, but in an article where I’m talking about my lack of long-term friends, I think a point needs to be made about the fact that I am not someone that doesn’t have any friends. As I said before, I’m proud of my growth and my self-reflection, and I’m proud of the person I’m becoming. Over the years, I’ve become so much more authentically me, and because of this, I’ve made better connections. Not only do I like who I am, but I am well liked in the circles I travel in. Rather than having a core friend group or one best friend; I have many friend groups, many organizations I’m involved with, and I do have close friends. Certainly, I’ve gone through moments of jealousy when I see people with decades long, devoted, active friendships. I just have to remind myself that they’re on a different journey than I am. I don’t write this article to claim that I lack any connections, but rather that I lack long term connections, and that’s worth a pause for thought. Despite all of this, though, I am finally at a place where I can tell myself: this is all okay.

Shortly after Emily threw those words at me, I saw a video by Anna Akana, called “Signs of a Real Friend.” Her video directs a humorous, but genuine, focus on the reality that not all friendships last forever, and that’s okay! Platonic breakups can be just as common (and painful) as romantic breakups. Sometimes things like that just happen, and all breakups are a part of life: this is all a process. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I also believe that people come into one another’s lives to teach something. You may have heard the quote: “people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime,” but I don’t think that’s totally true. I really don’t think anyone comes for a lifetime. What if most relationships are temporary?

The suggestion of this article is that I am not alone in losing ties from middle school or high school. I am not unique to this situation. My hope in this article is that someone reading this might be on the same journey of reflection. With that, I want to offer you some encouragement as you go about your life. Don’t worry: it’s okay to move on, it’s okay to be different from those around you, and it’s okay to not have the same social capital as the people you knew from childhood. The next time you question the people on the path beside you, remind yourself to look around; are they really on the same path? Everyone is on their own journey.

Dani is a 22 year old Psychology student and the co-chair for the social media of IUP's Her Campus "diamond" chapter. She focuses on topics related to experiences, lifestyle, sex, and relationships. If she isn't writing about intriguing topics, she can be found jornaling, sitting in nature, or asking you what your sun, moon, and rising sign are.