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To Live & Let Go: Outgrowing Friendships

I’ve had very few friendships I needed to end. I have a good intuition and I know how to read people, which means I generally know who I can trust and who I can’t. In elementary school, I had many friendships end because my friend moved away and I either didn’t get to say goodbye or I just never saw them again. By the time I got to middle school, having a cell phone and social media accounts changed that. I was able to stay in touch with everyone all the time, which meant that even if a friend went to another school, we could still text and make plans to see each other outside of school.

Technology is an incredible thing, and because of it I’ve been able to keep some amazing friends. However, now that I’m always in touch with people, it’s allowed me to realize that sometimes friendships just need to… end. Not because either of us are bad friends or we had a falling out, but because people grow, and who you end up becoming isn’t always compatible like the people you used to be.

I’ve always been the type of person to have a few really close friends rather than a bunch of people I’m friendly with. Popularity wise, I peaked in elementary school, and I’m okay with that. I’ve made friends that I want to spend literally every spare second of my time with (sometimes when Melissa goes to the bathroom, I miss her), and I love that! I love having people in my life I connect with on the deepest level and knowing they care about me as much as I care about them. And some of them (I’m talking to you Alexandra) I’m going to hold onto forever. (This is a threat. You’ll never get rid of me.) Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with all of my friends. Recently, with some of my friends, I’ve noticed that I’m the only one putting in any effort to hang out with them or even talk to them. If I don’t reach out first, we will not be talking.

Now, as clingy as I am, I’m not the type of person who needs to talk to someone every day to feel like they care about me or to let them know I care about them. People have lives! I have a life! That being said, quality time is my number one love language, and when I’m free and my friends are free, I love to spend time with them. Whether it’s laying on the floor playing Exploding Kittens, going out for dinner, reading together at a park, watching a movie, or just doing homework in the same room, spending time with people is my favorite way to show them I care about them and be shown I’m cared about. This, obviously, can’t happen every second of everyday, but I put in effort to see people when I can, and I appreciate when my friends put in the effort they currently are able to give. Recently, some of my friends haven’t been putting in that effort. For a while, I chalked it up to them being super busy, but then when their schedule cleared up, they still never reached out to me. When we did hang out, it felt awkward and, honestly, a little boring. I found myself waiting for our plans to be over so I could call my boyfriend or hang out with my brother, not because I prefer to hang out with them over my friends, but because at least I have fun hanging out with them.

I really struggled with this at first. Did this make me a bad friend? Was I the problem? I talked to my mom and my brother about it quite a bit, and what each of them told me was this: we are not obligated to stay friends with someone if the friendship doesn’t make us happy anymore. I remember my brother telling me this and then saying something along the lines of, “It’s a hard lesson to learn, and I wish you could learn from my mistakes, but I know it’s something you have to figure out on your own.” His mistakes were trying too hard to fix relationships that had simply run their course and letting it really upset him. I was falling into the same trap, and after talking to my mom about it a few times, I couldn’t help but ask myself, why do I want to stay friends with them? When I couldn’t answer that, I knew the friendship had simply run its course.

It made me sad when I first realized this, but now I feel like I can put more energy into relationships with people I really love and who really love me. I reflected on all of my relationships and kind of mentally Marie Kondo’d them: which friendships bring me joy, and which friendships do not bring me joy? The best part of this was thinking about the way I treat my friends. I noticed that I had become pretty negative, and this came about due to several  reasons. For example, my mental health had taken a fall, and I was putting a lot of energy into healing. That meant that sometimes I didn’t have the mental capacity to listen to my friends rant or tell me about their struggles, but they were still there to listen to mine. I don’t want any of my friendships to be one-sided, because my friends deserve the entire world and more. Asking myself how I can be a better friend has strengthened my relationship with a lot of people and allowed me to create new friendships with people I may have never encountered otherwise.

I don’t want anyone to read this article and think I’m encouraging them to drop all their friends. Sometimes, we get stuck in ruts, and sometimes, these ruts present themselves in or as our relationships. I challenge you think as I did: Do all of your friendships bring you joy? Do any of them drain you? Do you find yourself dreading making plans with someone because you know you won’t really have fun? Your friendships should be fun and loving and you should enjoy being around your friends. You don’t owe anyone anything, and that includes a friendship.

Alexandra McGrew

Seattle U '21

Reading. Musical theater. Writing, writing, writing.
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