This post has been months in the making because I’ve found it difficult to find the right words to explain my thoughts fully. Hopefully, with a bit of luck, it’s turned out how I imagined it would and I hope that it can be helpful and reassuring to anyone who’s feeling anything similar to me…
I think friendship is different now from when our parents were younger, at least that’s how it seems in my family. If your parents didn’t go to university, most likely their friends live in the same city as them, or one not too far away unless they’ve moved in more recent years. Up until I went to university, I was the same. I had all my friends a simple bus ride away. Granted, they all lived in different directions but it was still pretty easy to meet up with them; you saw them at school every day and you’d hang out at the weekends for shopping or sleepovers. Friendship was easy. Sixth form for me was pretty much the same as school apart from the introduction of a few German exchange students, one of which I’m still best friends with today.
Of course the next step is university where you met people from all over the country and whilst making friends at uni is pretty easy, maintaining those friendships once you’re in different cities is where things need a little more effort. Suddenly there are very few original friends in the city we’d all started in which was a strange feeling. It was a bit like being newbie here, having to start over and make friends again. To meet up with friends from school or university now required planning (as well as time and money) since they were scattered in various places all over two hours away. Friendship is team work, it’s give and take. Sometimes the people you thought would be there forever, aren’t. They’ll let you down and a message from them will be too much to ask. You’ll see them maybe four or five times a year and they won’t see anything wrong with it. It takes a little time to accept that not all friends are “forever friends” and that’s okay. However there may be times when someone you thought you’d never speak to again comes back into your life and however daunting and strange this may seem at first it could well be a blessing. It’s also okay to keep people out if that’s what’s best for you. Only you can make that call. Give it the time and effort you think it deserves and go from there. People change, friendships change – it’s not the end of the world. There will be people who show up and never leave, don’t take them for granted – they’re keepers.
There may come a time when you realise that you don’t really speak to anyone from your school days anymore and that’s okay. You may only have one or two people that you still speak to and that’s okay too! Reconnecting and meeting up with my best friend from secondary school is one of my favourite things to do because although we’ve been leading separate lives for nearly as long as we were at school together we’re still the best of friends. Having known each other for over half our lifetime it’s so cool to be able to say “I knew you back when…” And reminisce together. It’s equally as cool to be able to catch each other up on our current lives and discover that we still both have the same interests and values and that actually, between us, not much has changed. Cherish these people – they’ll be the ones with the best photos at your 40th birthday party.
Sometimes it may seem that everyone is moving on, settling down with new friends and partners and families and you’re still where you always were. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t feel like you’re doing something wrong. You have your new friends and you’ll get where you’re going soon enough too. It’s a good idea to check in with the friends who are on the same page as you, chasing a similar path – they’ll be feeling exactly the same and it’s nice to reassure each other that you’re not both crazy.