“You don’t feel like my best friend or like my sister anymore.” Those became the most heartbreaking words I ever heard. They came from the mouth of someone who had been a significant part of my life since sixth grade, where we met while in line for our first middle school English class.
Ella, one of the most kind-hearted and gentle individuals I’ve ever known, expressed these harsh feelings to me during our fall semester of junior year at the University of Maryland College Park. We sat right outside of a Subway at a picnic table. With tears in my eyes, I wondered out loud if she meant what she said. As usual, the responses I received seemed vague and filled with frustration.
We continuously fought the previous two years before this devastating conversation.
A lot was my fault, and a lot was her fault. Our personalities grew apart, and our once inseparable but healthy friendship dynamic turned into a clingy, codependent relationship. It conveniently kept us in our comfort zone. To be honest, the fights leading up to this and the depressing feelings I experienced still haunt me to this day and leave me distraught.
Back when this incident occurred, I was already dealing with depression and loneliness. I recently joined a sorority that just didn’t fit right. I couldn’t seem to connect with my main group of friends. My roommate since freshman year, Laura, was my only other very good friend at college. At the time, she started to become manipulative, controlling and began to exclude me from a lot of group hangout. This made a very un-anxious person feel extremely anxious. I could not deal with it anymore.
After hearing Ella tell me she was done with our friendship, I decided I needed to move back home because of the little moral support I had left at college completely vanished.
Before I officially started commuting from my mom’s house, I let the others in my friend group know that I still wanted to hang out with them in an attempt to make sure they knew that I was not only their friends by association through Ella. This, however, had no effect.
Throughout the semester, I reached out to multiple people. Sadly, more than half of the time no one responded or everyone would claim to be busy. When I ran into these “friends” and Ella, everyone acted politely to me. I eventually realized that they had no interest in a friendship anymore. I needed to move on.
My experience at home was not enjoyable. I grew bored and lonely. Plus I needed to wake up extremely early to drive an hour away to go to class, which became time-consuming and stressful. Luckily, I could talk to my mom about what I was going through. Her comfort was basically the only good thing I had that semester.
Yes, I cried almost every day during that needlessly dramatic semester. Yes, no one from that group, not even Ella, attempted to ask if I was doing okay. Yes, this caused me to feel very rejected, lonely and betrayed. But I am incredibly grateful that this happened to me.
If I could thank these people without it seeming awkward, untimely and fake, I would.
Because of this outcome, I learned that my previous roommate since freshman year was actually someone that I would never want to be associated with. I discovered that the relationship that I had once had with my best friend only caused me emotional pain. And I finally recognized that the people in my old friend group would never connect with me because they simply did not match my personality.
I lost everyone, not just Ella, because I wasted half of my college experience trying to fit in with a group of people that I was never going to fit in with, only because my best friend got along with them so well. I thought, “Hey, if Ella is close with them, I should be too.” But, in reality, you can’t force yourself to connect with people.
Six months later and I am now back at school and living in the sorority house because they pulled me in. My mental state is definitely getting better. The depression that once consumed me has now vanished. After removing the negativity—those that made me feel insecure and not good enough I found time to heal and to reflect: reflect on what was my fault, someone else’s fault and simply nobody’s fault.
Things are not perfect though, of course. Like I said, those feelings of devastation and humiliation that I experienced occasionally haunt me and keep me up at night. So, obviously, I have a little ways to go before I feel entirely okay with what happened. All I can do is try to move on and get over the nasty rumors that Laura would spread about me and come to terms with the cruel words that I would say to Ella or that Ella would say in return.
The people that used to be in my life rarely pop into my thoughts anymore. I used to carry so much pain that I thought it would never subside. But, just like every emotion, it eventually becomes less intense. Somehow, you get back on your feet, build the confidence back up that you once had and keep working toward your goals even when it feels like nobody in your life wants to be around you.
Understanding that the end of friendships, even the meaningful ones, will not kill you is critical at any stage in life. And realizing that some people will still act immature due to insecurity even as an adult is essential as well.
Let them go and find friends that make a positive impact on your life.