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Real friends never leave you, even if you grow apart

Author: Yi-Nuo

Recently, I had a chat with one of my really close junior high friends who I’d grown apart from during this first year of high school.  Upon entering our new high school last September, we’d gone off into completely different social groups.  I grew closer with some girls who’d also come from our junior high, while he became integrated into circle of friends who’d arrived from a different school.  I’ve never really cared much for popularity or other arbitrary constructs of the infamous school social hierarchy, but it was obvious even to me that my friend had become one of the ‘cool’ kids.

These ‘cool’ kids were nothing like the stereotypes seen in movies like Mean Girls, they were actually really nice people who just happened to give off a very exclusive sort of vibe.  Like it would be amazing to be friends with them, but at the same time, they were very unapproachable.

As a result of this unapproachability (and my own shyness and introversion), I grew further and further apart from my friend.  We used to tell each other everything, from relationship drama to our worst fears about life, but our conversations slowed and eventually stopped.

We used to tell each other everything, from relationship drama to our worst fears about life, but our conversations slowed and eventually stopped.”

When I first realized that he and I were growing apart, it really hurt.  I definitely felt like I was being replaced, and wondered all the time what sort of secrets he was now telling his new friends instead of me.  I’d really thought that our friendship was special and would survive the tumultuous waters of high school, but apparently it was doomed to fail.  I scrolled through countless pictures of him and his new squad on social media, green with envy as I witnessed them having what looked like the time of their lives together, partying while I was sitting at home doing math homework and feeling more jealous and left out by the second.

Things got worse around spring break.

You see, me and my friend had one link that had been helping to hold our relationship together: his girlfriend.  Now, I realize this sounds weird, but let me explain.  They’d been with each other for years, and I had played wingman for him plenty of times.  I’d been there when he’d plucked up the courage to finally tell her that he loved her, and I was the first one he came to after he had his first kiss with her.  Many of our conversations had been about love and relationships, as we were two people with very different experiences and viewpoints on these topics, and it was both interesting and helpful for us to hear things from another person’s point of view.

In short, he had really been a big part of all that I knew about love (which, granted, wasn’t much, but still), and I was really invested in their relationship, which was simultaneously the cutest and most perfect-seeming thing in the world, an isolated utopia of romantic purity.

Around spring break, though, he texted me for the first time in a long time, asking if he could tell me something.  Before he even said anything else, I knew.  He was having doubts about his relationship with his girlfriend.  At that time, I pushed aside all the fear, insecurity, and doubt that I had been having about my own relationship with him, and just listened.  I put my gratitude that he had come to me before anyone else at the forefront.  And I tried my best to help him, because that’s what friends do.

In the end, he ended up breaking up with her.  Honestly, it felt like I was more upset about it then he even was, but looking back, I think it’s because the official breakup signified to me the end of an era.  The era in which we still believed that he and his first love would be together forever, and he and I would be best friends forever.  I told myself it was their own business, just as I had told myself an infinite amount of times that it was natural and okay for me and my friend to be drifting, but, as always, I still found it hard to stop caring.

To rub salt in the wound, I found out a few days later that he was now dating a new girl from his new group of ‘cool’ friends.  He didn’t tell me anything about her; I wasn’t his wingman, or his confidante when it came to this new girlfriend.  I didn’t blame him, though- it was just the circumstances we had come to.  But I lost hope for our friendship then; I knew it would never be the same again.

I lost hope for our friendship then; I knew it would never be the same again.”

Recently, though, this friend and I had another conversation.  He instigated it, asking me how my life was going.  I told him about the problems I’d had and things I’d learned in his absence, and he told me about his.  The conversation went on for two hours, and was one of the most relieving and happy two hours of my life.  Just like the old days, we talked about our fears, hopes for the future, and what observations and conclusions we had drawn from our first year of high school.  He told me about how his new group of friends, which I’d assumed to be perfect, were in fact very flawed.  He also told me about his new girlfriend, and how happy they were together.

Finally, he told me how much he appreciated me, thanking me for always cheering him up, giving him advice, and helping him through tough times; and that he wished he’d told me all this sooner.  I may have teared up a bit at this part.

All along, he had missed me and my friendship just as much as I had missed him and his!

Through this conversation, I realized how much we had both changed (a lot), but also how much we had both stayed the same.  I still missed the times when we were each other’s go-to, each other’s most trusted secret-keepers, but I also realized that though the times were gone, my friend was still here. Our friendship was still intact.  That he still shared a lot of my fears and understood me in ways that nobody else did, and that I was the same for him.  All this time, I’d felt like I was the one being left behind in the dust, the only one left caring, but that wasn’t the case.

This year, I have learned more about myself than ever before.  I have also learned so much about what friendship and love are to me.  My friend and I have truly been through thick and thin this year, and though I often thought it hadn’t been together, all it took was one conversation to assure me that, though we had grown apart, our interwoven roots would never betray us.  In the future, we will probably go to different universities and may never see each other again, but it’s nice to know that trusting people and giving them 100% of you is worth it.

Real friends reciprocate that trust, and even if you grow apart, they will never leave you. Having friend troubles? We’re here to listen.

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