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Thoughts on Outgrowing Old Friends

When I left for college, one of the most prominent thoughts on my mind was how it would affect my relationships with the friends I was leaving behind. I’d heard all those stereotypes about how high school friends are just people you had to hang out with because you all happened to be in class together, and college was where you found your true friends. I’d heard that by Thanksgiving Break, those high school friends you thought you loved were just distant memories. But, I loved the friends I had in high school; after a rough first two years, they were what made my experience fun and exciting, instead of just the drama-filled torture that high school can be. While I was excited to branch out and meet new people, I was worried that going to college away from them meant losing the people I’d come to love.

But, another part of me was desperate to hang on to what I knew. I didn’t want to accept that my worries would probably come true, at least in part. When I said goodbye, I promised everyone I’d visit, despite the logistical impossibilities of going to see a different high school friend every week. And I clung to the idea of Thanksgiving Break, thinking that maybe in November everything would revert back to the way it was. I know these fears are pretty common. We go from spending every day with a group of people we grew up with to only getting to see them a few times a year. How could you expect to maintain that same closeness, especially when the adults in your life are convinced that graduation means you’ll immediately move on. More importantly, I, along with all my friends, have separate lives, friends, and experiences, and while I love seeing them meet new people and make memories via social media, it can be tough knowing that your friends have great lives that don’t involve you. But just know that you are growing too. I was right that it would be hard to be away from people I love, but also right that I would come to love so many new people. This isn’t to say it’s impossible to stay close with high school friends. What those old stereotypes fail to take into account is that we have so much technology that enables us to be close to people far away. Of course, high school me was naive to think I would miss all twenty of the people that sat with me at lunch, but I have three or four friends from high school that I would do anything for. The key is effort; it’s not like I can see my best friend in English class every day, or run across the street to study with my neighbor. It’s so easy to get caught up in my own new world here at Kenyon that keeping up with the people who know me so well can fall low on my list of priorities. But doing so has been so beneficial to my mental health. It helps when I’m stressed with college and work and friends to have an impartial view, or even just FaceTime dates to look forward to. In a way, distance makes a friendship stronger, because although it’s hard, you find out what makes it worth it.

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