When To Let Go Of Childhood Friendships

I watched an amazing film on Hulu called "Big Time Adolescence", a coming of age story about a twenty-something drug-dealing college dropout named Zeke who's best friends with an impressionable sixteen-year-old boy named Mo. While their friendship begins harmless and fun, it soon has negative repercussions as Mo gets sent out of class one day with handcuffs. There are countless stories, movies and songs about romantic relationships in mainstream media, and this film uniquely delves into the complexities of friendships. Even if someone is fun to hang with at the moment they might not be good to have in your life for the long-term.

While there is incredible value in maintaining long-term friendships It's also important to realize that some people are only meant to enter your life for a season. I have gone through my fair share of friendship breakups and those that have stood the test of time, here are some signs that it’s time to let go of people. 

1. Preventing each other from growth

Leaving your hometown after high school graduation and moving to a big city is a reiterated trope in coming of age movies. A part of this mindset derives from our need for change, and self-growth. We can’t become the person we are desiring to be in an environment that produced the version of ourselves that we are trying to outgrow. The same concept applies to childhood friendships. If you are trying to change, and your longtime friend isn't on the same journey of self-improvement then this friendship will probably be holding you back. I've had friends who have noticed that every time I spent time with someone from my past, I was reverting back to negative traits that I was desperately trying to change. While it may not be the other person's fault that you want to change, your feeling of unease is a surefire sign that you don’t need to continue spending time with them.

2. Your core values don’t align

Proximity is the basis of childhood friendships. Our parents choose the neighbourhood and school we attend in which we have a pool of peers that we see every day to select as candidates for friends. In school, I viewed friendships as an alliance so I wouldn't have to be seen standing alone during recess or eating by myself in the school cafeteria. But as a young adult, I've come to realize that if you are entering friendships just to mitigate your fear of loneliness it most likely won't last very long. Instead, it's important that your friends share your core values, whether that's career, family, wealth, community service. Your core values rarely change throughout your lifetime and so will friendships that are built on those shared values.

3. Are you holding on to shared memories through them?

Is there a part of you that never wants to leave behind high school? And the only thing you seem to have in common with your long-term friends is shared memories of the past? It may be time to do some self-introspection. I had a friend that loved to revisit the same discussion topics anytime we hung out, which included high school gossip, popularity and former classmates. At a certain point, he had no more memories to milk and our conversations became incredibly derivative and mundane. It's understandable for us to mourn our childhoods when life was more manageable and exciting. If you are like my friend who desperately clings onto old friendships because it gives him a feeling that he hasn't left that part of his life, I want to remind you that happiness is attainable at any age and don't ruin your precious twenties because you feel that you can no longer create the life you once had.