I love having friends. I am one of those people who has always liked being around people and keeping friends. When I was in university and long before Facebook came into being, I wrote and kept a list of everyone that I called friend. I updated the list as I made new friends.
My list had names of friends I have had since I was three years old; friends I made because our mothers were friends and we spent time together. Friends that, although we don’t see or talk often, acknowledge the ties that bound us. Friends that are rest assured knowing, should we need each other’s help, we will be favorably disposed to giving it.
I was that friend that visited other friends during the summer holidays while in secondary school. I have always been extroverted and fortunately my mum’s car and driver were readily available to my friends and I. So we spent time visiting one another during the holidays, especially when we were not in summer school.
Incidentally, I lost touch with most of these friends after school due mostly to my inability to communicate as most of us didn’t have phones at home. Even when we did, usage was restricted (I remember those dial phones and how our parents locked them up).
Thankfully, social media has enabled me reconnect with most of my former classmates and the friends I made in my youth.
I have friends that I do not see often but when we meet, we hit it off like we were never apart. Friends that evoke beautiful memories of yesterday and the person I am and used to be.
Friends are one of the best things in life.
For most of us our friends are even closer than our blood relatives. Having close friends has been linked to having better physical and mental health. The truth is that as we grow older we tend to be slow at making friends. This is so as we are no longer consumed with the need to be accepted by our peers. More so because we have become wiser and more guarded about people and the vicissitudes of life. We would rather concentrate on quality rather than the quantity of friends.
For someone like me who had a list that I peered over from time to time, the number of people I would actually call friends have dwindled considerably.
I understand why some people shun friendships but there is nothing like having a tribe that understands, celebrates and keeps up with all your shenanigans. They are able to speak honestly to you. Friends especially the ones we make in our youth, are the most wonderful things in the world. There are no airs around them.
I have found out that being with the friends of my youth is an elixir of youth as it brings out the child in me. I invariably become the age I was when I first met them. It’s quite a heady feeling to be in the company of people you have shared several experiences both good and bad.
School alumni are one of the best things we can belong to especially as we begin to age and the world around us begins to look different. Not only is it a place to thrive socially or emotionally but it’s also a place where we can be helped economically and professionally. I have had many jobs referred to me as a result of being in touch with old classmates. In turn, I have also referred jobs to others because I can vouch for them. I understand that for some of us, our school experiences represent the worst times of our lives. We can’t bear to be reminded of the events and people that represent that time and it’s okay especially if we have made friends in our workplaces or profession.
Friendships evolve and sometimes the person we call friend may be in our lives for a specific purpose and a particular period. Sometimes, someone who started as a mere acquaintance becomes a close friend. Someone you met through another friend becomes closer to you than the mutual friend who introduced you both. Someone who was so close and dear to you becomes a stranger.
There are many reasons why relationships evolve and they include lack of shared interests. Change in personality. Change in physical locations or even social class. Outgrowing one another. Lack of communication. Toxic behavior such as controlling, entitled behavior, betrayals, jealousy etc.
The loss of a friendship hurts deeply especially if there are no justifiable reasons. I know that feeling as I have had a number of close friendships end in my regret and pain. I dare say that sometimes the loss of a friendship, especially when the friend wants nothing to do with you, for reasons known to only them, hurts deeply.
The pain of lost friendships is something we don’t often talk about nor mourn as we do that of a love affair. Lost friendship is akin lost love affairs. We choose our friends and if we care about them deeply, their absence in our lives creates a vacuum.
It is an awkward feeling. It’s like seeing your ex again. You know, someone you used to spend so much time with, the depository of your secrets, who featured in all your memorable events. You get wistful about the moments you had shared but now perform perfunctory duties by being just polite.
Friendships evolve and while some friendships will be closer, some will end. We must accept that our friendships will change overtime. When they do end, they sometimes bring collateral damage. Mutual friends may become uncomfortable and uneasy with both parties. This might then lead to breaking up from the group of friends as some may take sides.
This happens especially when we are friends with a couple who go their different ways.
I believe that when friendships, especially those that were close and non toxic end, we should mourn them and learn from them. We should be grateful for the part we shared in our friend’s story and move on.
In my case, I confronted my friend about the death of our relationship. Though I didn’t agree with a lot of things she said, I did acknowledge that we had both changed and needed different things from the relationship. I also acknowledged that she was happy with the boundaries she had created and accepted them. Today, we are both at a much better place, at least I know that I am.
“Just because a friendship ended doesn’t mean you have to pretend it never existed or wipe it from your life story because you can still find it very valuable.”