Recently, I got a rather heartbreaking email from one of my readers. He had a friend that he used to be very close to when he was younger, and he tried to reconnect with his friend, but unfortunately his friend no longer wanted anything to do with him.
Looking back on my childhood, I had a lot of friends that I thought I’d be close to forever. Back in freshman year of college, we had a small group that I always hung out with:
And back in senior year, it became a different group:
Today, most of these people I don’t even talk to anymore. What happened?
Friendships get harder to maintain as we grow up
Remember how it was back in school? You were held captive with hundreds of people the same age as you for hours every day. You saw the same people five days a week for 12 years. It was all organic back then, and even if you made no effort to connect with people outside of school, you still probably had a few classmates that you liked to see every day.
It’s different once we graduate and enter the “real world”. It’s no longer organic, and we’re not necessarily in the same stage of life anymore. Remember that picture of friends from my senior year? A few years after that picture was taken, one of those friends ended up having a child. Of course, we were all very excited!
However, this meant that we were now at completely different stages of our lives.
Since she was now a parent, this meant that she could not stay up all night and play video games with us like she used to. Her schedule now revolved around her baby. That might mean canceling plans on a moment’s notice because her child suddenly became sick, or bowing out of our group activities early because her husband needed her at home.
As we grow older, we also face more responsibilities. This might mean taking care of a family. Or sinking more hours into a demanding career. It’s no longer organic like it was in school. Our friendships get harder to maintain as we get older, and that means making a conscious effort to add value to the relationships you want to keep.
And sometimes, we’re just different people
Back in school, I had a friend that I was very close to. We would meet up almost every weekend and play Call of Duty and exchange Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards. We’re not close anymore, and it’s been years since the last time I talked to him.
Unfortunately, we’re just different people now. Back then, I was an absolute nerd who could marathon Call of Duty with zero hours of sleep and only Red Bull keeping me conscious! Today, I’m no longer interested in marathoning video games anymore. That season of my life has ended. The shared hobbies that kept us together no longer exist. I’m a different person than I was back then.
The worst part is that it’s like ending a relationship without closure. When you break up with a girlfriend, there’s a sense of finality to it. You know in no uncertain terms that it’s over. Drifting apart from a friend, on the other hand, lacks that closure. Almost like the relationship silently passed away without a funeral.
And perhaps that’s okay, too.