One of the saddest things in life is when you outgrow people, especially friends. This is my final year of university and between going abroad for six months, losing a parent, and just general non-traumatic life events, I’ve noticed lately that I don’t vibe with some of the people who I used to spend all of my time with. This isn’t in a dramatic fashion. When the relationship is toxic and I have had to end friendships, it was hard. When you outgrow people, it’s more of a natural drift instead of a sudden shift. There will be people who you outgrow, then catch back up with later in life. There are others who you have to let go forever.
Outgrowing friends is a natural part of life. There will be times when everyone is on the same page and you feel like being best friends forever. Things change, people change, circumstances change. I’ve been dealing with this a lot since I came back from France. I have noticed that I don’t enjoy some of the activities that I once enjoyed. The same people who I enjoy partying with now aren’t the people I enjoyed doing the same thing with a year ago. I’ve become more in touch with myself and my identity as a single college student, so going out with friends in couples isn’t as fun as it once was. Not saying there’s anything wrong with being in relationships, but it’s not as easy to have a girls night or friend time, when one or two people aren’t fully invested in being present during the activity.
When you outgrow a friendship, it doesn’t mean that the relationship was toxic. It means that you’re growing as an individual. Sometimes you grow and people grow with you. After everyone gets married with kids, these friends are the people who will probably be lifelong friends. Sometimes, just as with romantic relationships, relationships come in your life to teach you yourself.
What makes you tick?
Who and what makes you happy?
What makes you sad?
Which activities make you feel supported and fulfilled?
What makes you feel alone?
Who do you want in your future?
What do you need in a friend?
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We all know when we have outgrown a friendship. Things that once used to come naturally now seem forced. Often when this shift has occurred because it’s not just one thing that spurs this drifting apart. It’s an often a multitude of things. Life is funny in the way that it brings people into our lives when we need a friend. It also swiftly ushers them out when you are strong enough to be your own person. I have changed a lot in the last year. I have known forever that my relationships with people would evolve in different ways as I changed my point of view about life, my relationship with politics, and as I learn more about myself.
As I grew, I attracted different people into my life. This has shown me more about myself than anyone else truly. I had to recognize the symptoms of failing friendships to make space for new people to come into my life. Relationships that used to fulfill me now leave me drained. It’s a symptom of a failing relationship. When a friendship fails, I would never want to end on horrible terms with someone. In certain circumstances, people do change in the future. It just means that I have to redefine the role that person plays in my life in order to keep me sane, while still being a friend or acquaintance.
All of this seems harsh and heartless. As someone who constantly takes the feelings of everyone and their families into account before doing anything, I have to reserve some things for self-care. When I realize that I’m outgrowing someone, I feel awful and guilty about what did I do wrong or what could I have done differently in my own life so this person could still be my friend.
By learning how to let go, I’ve learned how to improve my mental sanity and recognize that sometimes it is good to finish a chapter in the book of life. A lot of people don’t talk about what happens when you lose friends. The type of grief is different because, for the most part, it was unexpected. When things like this happen, take a little time for yourself and allow yourself to feel the emotions. This hurts, so don’t push it away. Deal with it as you feel is best and learn from the past.
I’m what people call a fixer in relationships. When people need someone to talk to when they have problems, they know that I’ll always be there to help fix the issue, whether it’s something big or something small. In that same respect, I put the needs of everyone over my own, so I can get really lonely and tired when I have problems, but the same people who come to me are nowhere to be found. While being in college, I’ve been in these friendships….a lot.
Not every relationship we will have in our lives will be equal in terms of how attention is divided. Some people are always going to be less busy and more available than others. If you can’t talk to your friends at any point and know they care about your problems, even just for five minutes, are they really your friend? I’ve had to do some major soul searching and answer that question for myself, which is really hard to do.
I’ve learned to be okay by myself and to have my own back when I sense these relationships happening. There’s a difference in friends and acquaintances. I’m vulnerable with my friends. I know they’re the people I call when I’m in a bind or just need someone to talk to. They’re there for you and want to be there for you, no matter what. Friends don’t just keep you locked in for when they have problems they need fixing.
Major changes in life and moving people in and out of your life is scary. I’ve done it a couple of times and I will have to probably do so again this year, but I can’t run from unavoidable parts of life, but I need to face it head-on. I have to listen to my soul and know that what is meant to be will be. Chances are, your friend has been feeling the same way. So it’s time to have that uncomfortable conversation and do what’s best. It’s perfectly fine to grieve, be angry, get frustrated, and just plain sad when these relationships end.
Society teaches us that friendships aren’t as hard to break than romantic relationships. They are, if not more so. Romantic relationships come and go, but your friends are the people who help you through those comings and goings. So when they leave, it does leave a hole in your life. Don’t feel guilty about outgrowing people as everyone is at different stages of life. Enjoy the memories and know that you will be alright.