Think of a friend you do everything with, from sneaking out on weekend nights to staying in on rainy days. My former-best friend and I used to be like that. Frequent Chipotle lunch dates, shopping trips and workouts led many around us to see us practically as sisters. When the University of San Diego accepted us, we thought we knew exactly how our lives would go. We planned on living together, getting stellar GPAs, graduating, landing our dream jobs and being at each other’s weddings. Then life came along like a roller coaster ride, complete with unwanted drops, turns and corkscrews.
Freshman year at USD moved so quickly. We lived as independent girls with no curfew and no parents. What could be better? The first test to our friendship came when housing placed us in different dorms. Not part of the plan. This meant we’d rarely be together. We soon found out our class schedules conflicted, which made grabbing lunch or dinner together challenging when not impossible.
On top of the schedule barricade, I had daily practices and meetings with the school’s softball team; my free time nearly filled up. My best friend and I began seeing each other less and less. During our time apart, the two of us started to make new friends. Most of my new circle included my teammates, and I couldn’t have asked for better. My new friends liked to go on adventures in Pacific Beach and the Gaslamp disctrict and I never experienced a dull moment with them. She didn’t like her new friends as much; the girls were very outgoing or enjoyed partying too much. I started hanging out with my teammates more and she preferred to stay in and read or watch TV. Slowly, she began to feel alone.
I tried to be with her during my off time, and we did manage to have a lunch date every Monday. At first those meals were fun. We planned out our own San Diego adventures to Sunset Cliffs and beachside stargazing—until our hopeful reality turned into a nightmare. As time went on she started to feel sadder and more distant from me. When we talked I noticed she hardly ever smiled or laughed anymore. I couldn’t tell exactly how miserable she felt, but the sadness in her eyes said enough. She blamed my busy schedule, but really she blamed me.
About a month into the semester, our lunches consisted of her sobbing and me not knowing what to say. I loved college. There’s not much to dislike about San Diego, and softball was amazing. But she hated it. She felt far away from home and from her high school friends. Every time she cried it killed me inside. My best friend hated the very school I adored. The next time we met for lunch, she dropped a bomb on me. “I applied for Chapman University. If they accept me I think I’m going to go there for the spring semester. I just hate it here and I need to leave.”
My world spun around in what felt like drunken circles. How could I be apart from my best friend? Reflecting back on it, I realized over the semester we’d grown apart—I just didn’t want to admit it. I pictured us as friends forever. When the time came, she packed up and left. She started at Chapman that spring, and I stayed at USD, continuing with softball. I checked in with her occasionally and she seemed much happier. Not being her friend felt too strange. At her new school she found a group that shared her interests, and slowly we continued to develop into different people. She still goes to Chapman, and the fit seems perfect, but I wouldn’t know for sure. We don’t talk anymore.
I don’t regret what happened. I loved our friendship but it had run its course. I still see her posts on social media and wish her the best. She’s living her life and I’m living mine. I guess things never will be the same as they were and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s the challenges in life that help you grow and realize who you really are.