On November 3, 2018, Ariana Grande released the lead single from her fifth studio album called, “thank u, next.” Upon the song’s release, I sat up on my twin sized, college dorm room bed, filled my ears with my fresh-out-of-the-box airpods and tuned into my student discounted Apple Music account to search for the song. As I pressed play, the Pop singer instantly drew me in with her Instagram-caption-worthy lyrics. However, as the catchy melody of the lyrics pulled me in, their meaning pushed me away. “I wish I could make a song thanking people in my past for who I am today,” I said to myself after hearing what felt like the ten-millionth harmonious “thank you, next.” I followed up this remark by taking out my airpods, closing out the music app and returning my focus back to my college studies.
Thus, denying Grande’s song further access to influence my perspective on human connections.
Truthfully, at that time, my experience in the romance department couldn’t compare to that of Grande’s. Besides the typical superficial teenage crushes and meaningless talking stages, my low familiarity with romance didn’t allow me to relate to the song’s appreciative lyrics back in 2018. Likewise, after almost three years and one failed puppy love induced “relationship” in my rearview mirror, romantically, I remain unfamiliar. After spending my youth in countless platonic friendships that failed (like those of Grande’s romantic relationships) and endless months in the same isolated location (thank you, COVID-19) her lyrics finally resonate with me. Because similarly to Ariana Grande, I’m so grateful for my ex…best friends.
My friendship memories start at the innocent age of four with my next-door neighbor, Sophia.
I remember our friendship as a broken record. Only for us, the record of our friendship played the best when broken. We spent countless days of every season together in the continuous yet amusing routine of fun and play. The daily sounds of our laughers and animated childish noises filled our youthful days with a lively tone, only pausing as we ate, slept and attended separate pre-schools. Then, with a burst of enjoyment, it would resume. Until one day, it never did.
As we changed in age, so did the friendship we once shared. We changed into different people. We grew into different interests which led us down different social paths. And as we changed, the record of our friendship did as well. Suddenly, it featured an end. An end which it fast-forwarded with each passing day until both of our songs changed altogether.
This one taught me the lesson of change.
Then walked in my next best friend, Mariah.
Growing into a life independent from my ex-best friend Sophia led me straight to my next best friend, Mariah. We shared many of the same interests. One of those interests included cheerleading, the road that allowed us to cross paths.
We met on a junior cheerleading squad for our town’s youth football team. Like my previous friendship with Sophia, Mariah and I grew inseparable. During the beginning of our friendship, our parents gifted us with cellphones. So, unlike my past friendship, me and Mariah never missed a beat. We spent most of our time together either hanging out in-person or on the phone. The music our friendship created never paused. It played restlessly until the night of our high school graduation. Then, it too proceeded to its end.
At the end of our friendship, I received a text. The final text from my then best friend. In it, she explained that I no longer held purpose in her life. From her perspective, I would soon leave for university and the distance she would experience from my new life exceeded the purpose of our old friendship.
This one taught me the lesson of purpose.
Next, I experienced Jaxon.
While my decision to leave my hometown for university resulted in the end of my connection with my ex-best friend Mariah, it unknowingly marked the beginning of the connection I shared with my next best friend, Jaxon.
Like my friendship with Mariah, the connection I shared with Jaxon sparked amid our shared interests. We met as student leaders in a summer program and effortlessly led each other to a picture-perfect friendship. Unfortunately, behind the glare of our picture-perfect friendship, hid substantial problems. Problems which eventually surfaced with a divine force I just couldn’t control. And just like that, the frame holding our friendship together, along with my heart, shattered uncontrollably.
This one taught me the lesson of control. More specifically, my lack thereof.
I held no power to control when the bonds I shared with my best friends whom I loved unmeasurably broke, nor did I possess the capability to stop their imminent end. So, as our beloved connections perished in the winds of our youthful bliss, the versions of me that once embodied friendly innocence withered away with them.
Carrying a heart burdened with throbbing symptoms of hurt, I dug up six gravesites in my friendship graveyard.
Three for the skeletons of my cherished relationships with my ex-best friends. And three more for the “me” they once known best.
Miserably, I mourned my losses.
Nonetheless, after experiencing the grief that accompanied each breakup, heartache and let down of my failed friendships, I thank each of my ex- best friends for teaching me crucial life lessons. Through them, I gained awareness of the “me” they experienced and now maintain a clear picture who I want to leave this Earth as. Now, I am able to embark on my much-needed journey towards growing into the woman of my dreams.
I no longer see my past friendship-breakups through broken lenses. Instead, I choose to let the light shine on the shattered glass of our expired connections and life lessons they taught me. Although I no longer get to experience the bonds we once shared, the lessons I took from them altered the way I now experience life.
By loving and splitting from my best friends, I now glimmer as my best self. Today, tomorrow and forever.
So, in the words of Ariana Grande,
“Say I’ve loved and I’ve lost
But that’s not what I see
So, look what I got
Look what you taught me
And for that I say…
Thank you, next!”
I’m so grateful for my ex…best friends.