Updated: Dec 28, 2018
Adulthood seems to have a way of taking everything we THOUGHT we knew about ourselves, relationships and life in general, and turning it upside down. It's a continuous learning and re-learning of "self," and how we relate to the world and the people around us -- particularly, those we consider our friends.
Growing up, I had a cookie-cutter understanding of what friendship was. In my eyes, it was a simple arrangement in which two or more individuals with common interests hung out together and confided in one another regularly. The value and expectations I placed on my friendships at the time was generally based on how often we spent time together and/or the length of time we had been friends.
But as I evolved, my perspective on what it means to be a friend evolved as well. Over time, I learned that friendship is more about the quality rather than quantity of time spent. I realized that each relationship was unique and required its own set of boundaries, expectations and communication. And as I experienced more of life, some friendships were tested more than others.
Whether it was attending different schools, moving to different cities around the country (or world), major life events taking place, or us simply coming into our own as individuals, I noticed the dynamics of my friendships were shifting. While some were able to adjust with time, others had an adverse effect. That bothered me.
I would become frustrated that things were no longer how they used to be and feel guilty that our friendship had gotten to this point. I'd try to figure out where the disconnect lied and what was the root cause of it. At times, I would reach out to catch up and try to make up for lost times. In some cases, we'd pick up right where we left off and in others, it wasn't quite that simple. I'd wreck my brain, repeatedly asking myself, why did things have to change? What happened between us?
We grew up.
We grew apart.
We grew closer to other people.
We. Just. Grew.
Friendship should always be 100% organic, never forced. The fact of the matter is, we're all growing through different stages and seasons in our lives. We're not the crazy kids we once were in elementary and middle school. We're not the rambunctious teenagers we once were in high school. We're not the same curious, coming-of-age adults we once were in our late teens to early twenties. We're legit grown af now, and still growing.
I'm learning that the best way you can be a friend to someone is by allowing them to be the best, most authentic version of themselves that they can be -- even if it means taking a step back in order for them to do so. It doesn't mean you no longer love or care for them. It doesn't mean you can't still keep in touch from time to time. It just means you're different people who happen to be in different places in your lives.
And that's okay.