Letting Go of Old Friends

Author: August Clarke

Drifting away from someone you have known for a long time can be really difficult, but sometimes it is the best thing we can do for our emotional well-being. As life carries on, things change and people do too. No matter how hard it may be, trying to move on as life carries us in a new direction is occasionally necessary.

Putting effort into a relationship when the other person does not seem to be reciprocating is mentally and emotionally draining. If you ever feel like you are offering up a piece of your mental health just to try and make a relationship work, it may be time to reassess. Accepting the truth is something that is extremely difficult to do, but worth it in the end.

This is something I learned when I made the transition from junior high to high school. Within a few weeks, it became pretty clear to me that one of my oldest friends and I were drifting away from each other. We were both extremely excited to attend a new school. At first, it did not completely occur to me that when she said she wanted to “start fresh”, that meant leaving all of her old friends behind, including me.

I was scared of navigating a new social environment without my oldest friend at my side and – at first – when I noticed her developing a new group of friends that didn’t involve me, I resisted. I was determined not to see the truth, even when she would make up excuses about why she couldn’t hang out with me and purposefully stopped inviting me to things. I felt as though I had to act differently around her and her social group than I used to when we were close, and I started presenting myself in ways that were completely at odds with who I am, but that I thought she might like.

In the end, all my efforts proved to be fruitless.

It took me a long time to accept that my attempts to resist the changes happening in my life, and my social group, were doomed to fail from the start. We’ve all heard it before, but it is true nonetheless: maintaining a relationship is a two person job and, if one person isn’t willing to put in the effort, it is bound to fall apart. Making the choice to step away from an old friendship is one of the hardest things that a person can do, but when the cost of maintaining a relationship outweigh the benefits, it is important to look after ourselves first.

We’ve all heard it before, but it is true nonetheless: maintaining a relationship is a two person job and, if one person isn’t willing to put in the effort, it is bound to fall apart.

Ever since I made the choice to step away from my old friend and socialize with new people, I have been so much happier and content with myself. Constantly shifting and adapting my personality to appease another person was a major drain on my confidence and self-esteem. In the end, switching my focus to people who are willing to accept me as I am was the best choice I could have possibly made for myself, and I only regret how long it took me to realize this.

You should never feel like you have to sacrifice a piece of your identity to stay friends with another person. The truth is, it’s okay – natural, even – for our values and personality to change with the years. Some friends will be there forever, and some will only be there for a short period of time in our lives. Losing a friend feels like a total bummer when it is happening but, most of the time shapes up to be for the best. It is important to maintain an open mind and ensure that you are not limiting yourself by banking all of your self-worth and happiness on one person. I promise you that there are plenty of people out there who would love to befriend you, even though it may not seem that way at first.