When I was young, I remember all the glittery “friends forever” stickers and notes and talk of how my friends and I would always be “the best of friends.” I genuinely believed in BFFLs and the everlasting support of “girl power.”
Maybe it’s all those Spice Girls songs I listened to.
I think many of us still think that way today, especially with those friends who we develop a very strong bond with. But one thing that I’ve learned in this life as I’ve grown up (and still growing) is what one of my friends told me: friendships don’t last forever. At first, I found myself objecting to this idea, but then soon realized that he was right. Our friendships have a lifetime… ideally, it may be upon our death or theirs. But 90% of the time, it usually ends much earlier. It’s something I’ve talked to about with my fellow therapists and supervisor, so I know I am not alone in this experience.
From middle school up until college and graduate school, I thought the friends I made would be friends for life. As the Spice Girls once sang, “Friendship never ends.” But then after we all graduated or moved onto different places and continued on in our journeys, it became very difficult to keep in touch. Soon we stopped talking completely. Sometimes there’s the occasional “like” or comment on Facebook or Instagram, but that’s hardly anything to prop up a strong friendship. Even with the friends I made in the past two years and developed strong bonds with, I’ve come find now that some aren’t as strong as they used to be. I’m changing, they’re changing, and we’re not clicking the way we used to.
So this is the conclusion I’m coming to. As we go on in our self-growth, it is a guarantee that we won’t remain the same. So as a result, we may not connect to the same people the same way. Sometimes we might find that certain bonds grow strong, and others grow weaker. But that’s okay. Perhaps that’s the beauty and fun of life.
Before, I put a lot of work into making my friendships “last forever,” and feeling burnt out because of it. We weren’t as close as we used to be, and they weren’t putting in the effort that I was. But now I think that maybe it’s okay if the friendship slowly dies out. Or it’s even expected. If I go in with the mindset that friendships don’t last forever, it actually releases a lot of pressure. Maybe that person made a significant impact during a part of my life journey, but they don’t have to stay if they don’t want to. Many times our paths splinter apart and we go our separate ways. That doesn’t mean that their presence was any less significant, just because they aren’t here with us now. Those friends were there when we needed them and gave color to our experiences. We will always cherish and carry those memories with us. It’s hard to let those friendships pass, but it seems better to look forward to the new friendships ahead, than to keep mourning for the ones we lost.
So rather than fight against the mortality of friendships, we could instead embrace that we will cross path with many others in our lives who will contribute to our growth and augment our joy. It doesn’t have to only be your middle school best friend or college roommate. If anything, the diverse touches we experience from others throughout our lives can shape us much more than the hands of one person.
Regardless of how the chips fall, I am and will always be grateful. I’m grateful for the friends of my past who gave me love and support, for the friends of my present who continue on that tradition, and for the friends of my future who I have yet to meet, but know that they too will touch my heart just as all those before them.