How many friendships of yours extended beyond high school graduation night? Be honest.
On graduation night, after we all waited hours for our diploma and threw our caps into the air, everyone gathered around with friends and family, and every few seconds you could hear people saying, “let’s stay in touch,” and “I’ll come visit you.” But how many of those people actually followed through with those promises?
How many people kept all of their childhood friendships when they went away to college?
Even one year at college causes so much growth in us. Most people live alone for the first time in a place that’s new to them. I even know some people who never cooked or did laundry until coming to college.
Over the course of nine months, I moved to New York City and lived alone for the first time. I had a little bit of a mental breakdown. Needless to say, I grew a lot in a few short months.
Some of my friends didn’t grow as much or grew in a different direction than I did.
One of my high school friends started to change during our last year of school together, but we were still friends. Once we graduated, we went to college in the same state, but our schools are two very different places.
We met in sixth grade, in band class, bonding over our mutual confusion over why we both chose to play the oboe out of all the instruments we could have picked. She was sweet and sort of quiet, and whileI was really weird at the time (bangs…black eyeliner…you get it), she wanted to be my friend anyway. We bonded because we both had a bit of a mean streak behind our shy personas.
We went to high school together, I quit the oboe to do art, and she continued, and as we got older we became closer and started to grow in the same direction. For most of high school, she was one of my best friends.
Once senior year started, everything sped up. I guess the jump from seventeen to eighteen is bigger than the rest; one by one we became real adults. That year, I met one of my best friends in the world, Riley. We clicked almost instantly (she’s the best!! this story isn’t about her). While I was making friends with some people I love and respect most, my friend was getting closer to a girl who put me on edge. While they became good friends, this girl kept giving me bad vibes, to say the least.
As the year went on, I noticed her personality rubbing off on my friend, and suddenly they almost became the same person.
Jump to the night of graduation, we both went to a friend’s party. At one point, a guy I knew started obviously hitting on me. He had come with a guy that another one of my friends was seeing. I wasn’t at all interested, and when I misplaced my drink, he tried pushing his own into my hands. He tried to lead me upstairs to an empty room and I was starting to look for a way out of the situation. I ran as soon as I saw my friend, and when I told her what happened, she wrinkled her nose. “No, don’t do it,” she said.
A few weeks later, I found out she was talking to the exact same guy that tried to get with me at that party. That night I thought she was being a good friend and making sure I was being safe, but now how can I know for sure she didn’t just have her own self-interest in mind?
The next time I saw her was the summer after our freshman year of college. She seemed like a completely different person. We spent the day together, but she invited another friend along.
In the first few hours, I realized we didn’t have so much in common anymore, and I spent more time talking to our other friend. I have a feeling she thought I changed too and brought a mutual friend along so we could have more to talk about.
The final straw for me was during my winter break of sophomore year. My sister was a senior in high school and it was time to look for a prom dress. As someone not completely interested in fashion, she’d wanted me to come with her to give my opinions. Unfortunately, my friend and I already had plans made for that day, so I couldn’t go with my sister to find her dress.
Except, she never showed.
I guess she decided to blow me off and didn’t even bother to let me know. It was too late to meet my sister. When I confronted her, all I got in response was a one-sentence sarcastic apology: “I’m sorry to have inconvenienced you.”
Looking back, it was clear that after high school, this friend of mine stopped putting in the same amount of effort into our friendship.
Hell, she started to be a bad friend even in our senior year of high school. But I had known her since sixth grade, and for a time she was one of my closest friends. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt because I hoped that the girl I became friends with was still around somewhere.
I’m still friends with a lot of people I went to high school with. In fact, they’re still some of my best friends. But there are plenty of people I realized weren’t worth my time and effort, that I no longer talk to.
If a friend comes home from college like a completely different person, that’s okay.
It’s almost guaranteed to happen as we all come into our own as we grow. But if that person no longer holds the same basic values as you— or doesn’t put in the same amount of effort that you do— it’s okay to let them go. In fact, it’s probably the healthier thing to do. Of course,that’s usually easier said than done, but it’s what’s best for everyone.
The longer you focus your attention and put effort into a friendship that gives nothing back, the more it will hurt you when things inevitably fall apart.