Losing Old Friends: College Edition

Remember back in high school when you thought the friends you had then would be the friends you had forever? When you used to think the people you walked the stage with at graduation would be the same people that stood up at your wedding? When the people you took standardized tests with were supposed to be the people you’d grow old with? I know I definitely thought all of those things, and after only two months of life in college, I’ve learned that life isn’t that easy, and you’ll meet and lose a lot of people on your journey. 

The process of losing friends you thought you’d spend your whole life with is painfully quick and almost unnoticeable when you’re thrown into a new, sometimes uncomfortable life situation. In the time I’ve spent in college so far, I’ve met so many amazing people while simultaneously losing touch with close friends that I always thought were just as amazing. This shift in friendship happened so quickly and silently that I didn’t even notice until it was too late. Some of the people I used to be closest with in my life are ones I haven’t had a decent conversation within weeks, if not months. 

There’s a strange sense of “reverse-FOMO” that takes place while you’re in college and all of your old friends are still at home. While you’re experiencing the next milestone in life, your hometown friends are going through what you’ve already been through in the past. It’s an oddly fulfilling feeling to realize that you’ve moved past what they are experiencing now and are onto the next stage in life, but it also feels as if a part of you was left back home with those old friends. You’ll never be able to fully understand and experience what they are going through, even though you went through it a year or two before, due to the physical and emotional distance between you. This feeling is hard to process; there’s a difference between “keeping in touch” and seeing each other every day. The same connections you previously had with many close friends have gone untouched for so long and have now dwindled into small strings connecting acquaintances. 

With the strange feeling that comes from unconsciously separating yourself from your old friends comes the feeling of individuality and freedom. You’ve surrounded yourself with the same people in life for so long that you start to mold into similar versions of them, rather than being yourself and making your own decisions. Now that you are on your own, you have the opportunity to find people out there who want to be around you because of who you are, not who you will force yourself to become around them. The shift from losing old friends to finding new ones is strange, but so refreshing. Being able to essentially “start from scratch” and form your own friend group all over again once you reach college is exhilarating. You get to choose who you’d like to get to know in your new environment, as well as who you’d like to continue to talk to from home. Although it is hard to adjust to the loss of many friends and acquaintances from home, the ones that truly matter and care will find a way to stay in your life. Forming a network of sincerity and love for yourself from friends you make in college and friends you keep from home allows for the best, most genuine bonds to be formed. 

When looking back at the bonds you formed in high school and the memories you made with old friends, you shouldn’t feel any sadness or regret. The friends you had then helped you become who you are today, and just because they could potentially not be a part of your life now, doesn’t mean you should forget that they once were a part of it. Just because your best friend from sophomore year of high school isn’t going to be your maid of honor doesn’t mean you should pretend like they weren’t a part of your life; you now have the chance to find someone more suitable for the role. In the end, you should surround yourself with people who you care about the most that simultaneously care about you just as much, and college is the perfect place to do so.