I moved around a lot when I was younger. Between preschool and high school graduation, I went to nine different schools in six different cities. It wasn’t always easy for me. I had to make new friends every year or two, and making friends quickly has never been a skill I’ve been particularly strong in. I’ve always been the type to form a few strong friendships instead of a lot of superficial ones. And strong friendships take time to form.
It wasn’t easy trying to stay in touch with people. There are very few people from before high school that I still consider friends these days. I could count them on one hand. I didn’t have a cell phone, an email address, or social media. But those are all just excuses, really. I’ve realized in my adult life that I’m still not very good at keeping in touch with people. And now I have nobody and nothing to blame but myself.
Drifting is natural
When I moved back to Montana in high school, I felt like I was home. I stayed there for a few years, and I was finally able to build up a solid circle of good friends. Friends that I cared a lot about and spent a lot of time with. I had all of their phone numbers, and facebook friendships, and emails (although emailing people already wasn’t cool any more by that point).
But when I moved, I still found that I slowly talked to them less and less. Some of them were busy, or in relationships, or whatever. And I was busy getting to know a new town and getting my first official long-term job. There were a lot of factors at play. Everyone had their own things going on, their own problems to solve and dreams to chase.
Some people downright weren’t as easy to talk to as they were when they were nearby. Of the friends I did reach out to on a regular basis, some of them were more talkative than others. The ones that didn’t reply to my text messages, or replied with a word or two, were the first to start making their way to the periphery of my social circle.
The sign of a lasting friendship
The more this happens, the more I come to understand the nature of friendship. Some friends are only friends because you work together, or have a class together. You see them on a regular basis because you have to, and maybe you even hang out with them outside of work or school. But then the class ends, or one of you quits the job, and you just stop hearing from them and you stop reaching out to them. It’s not because you don’t want to hang out with them. It just happens.
Sometimes you grow and change as a person, and you just let go of relationships that are no longer beneficial. Your priorities might be different than they were a year ago, and that person who was fun to party with isn’t going to be encouraging when you decide to pursue your more serious goals.
This is normal. It took me a long time to figure it out. People who leave your life or become a smaller part of it aren’t bad people. They’re just not what you need right now. And that’s okay.
The friends that you are meant to have will never fully disappear. They might take vacations. Maybe they’ll be gone for extended periods of time. But when you talk to them, no matter how long it’s been, you’ll feel like no time has passed at all. You’ll be reminiscing about old times, and talking about new times, and it’ll feel like nothing has changed. They know you’ve been busy, you know they’ve been busy, and you both know that things between you have not changed in the slightest.
That’s the sign of a true friend.
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