On Letting Friendships Fade
The main topic of conversation my senior year was, of course, how will we all stay friends? After graduation, we’d be going different directions. Live in different cities, have different jobs. We’d spent so long being just a few floors apart in the dorms, and we were worried.
Apparently, the answer to this question is a Facebook group chat. There are thirteen people in it, and yes, I wanted to leave it the second I was added, especially considering how many people in the group chat I’m not very close with. But I’m now in a group chat with them because we’ve hung out a few times because we have mutual friends.
The truth is friendship can’t be sustained entirely by a group chat or social media. It helps, absolutely, make no mistake. I love group chats and I love social media. But you need more one-on-one time than a group chat can offer.
It feels too early to say that I probably won’t be friends with a lot of these people in five years, but… I probably won’t. We don’t talk very much without the group chat and don’t make the effort to. You need something meaningful. And some of these people? I didn’t even have something meaningful with them when we lived on the same floor in the dorms. I’m certainly not going to get closer with them by only talking to them through a group chat.
I’ve found that the group chat means that I can’t let friendships like this fade away.
Which, weirdly enough, made me very okay with the concept of letting friendships fade away.
It’s not that I’m annoyed by the group chat or anything. But there is something uncomfortable there about the fact that I’m pretty much forced to interact with people I would have let go, for whatever reason. They’re in my periphery as long as I’m friends with their friends.
Maybe it’s because I graduated early, but I’m ready to move on—that is, keep my core, close friends but let the rest slip away—and I don’t think my friends are ready for this just yet. I’m in a different place than they are, and that’s okay.
I realize now that “how are we going to stay friends?” shouldn’t have been such a constant topic. We should have spent more time focusing on the now, relishing our senior year. We should have accepted that we would all go different directions and it would be okay. We should have accepted that we have no real way to possible predict what’s going to happen, no way to control it. We’d stick together or we wouldn’t, but we shouldn’t stick together just because we think we have to. We really should have accepted that there was no possible way for a friend group of eight people to stay close. The concept of the squad is great, but it genuinely cannot be sustained by jokes and reaction GIFS.
There’s too much pressure nowadays to never let people go. Everyone always says that it’s so easy to stay in touch, and it is! I’ve stayed in touch with tons of people purely because Skype existed and I’m so thankful for that. But I’m learning that I don’t have to. It’s not a tragedy if I don’t stay friends with someone who I wasn’t close with.
I’ve found this is the first step of acceptance: recognizing that half your college friends are people you don’t even know that well. Recognizing that you aren’t losing that much if they eventually drift out of your circle. The next stop was much harder for me: thinking about the people I am close with.
I think we all eventually are going to change. I say I think, but I know. People change. I wasn’t the same person I was ten years ago (thank God), and I certainly won’t be the same person at 32 as I am at 22. None of my friends will either.
I think that’s okay. We won’t be the same people. Hopefully we grow together, but statistically, it’s not going to happen. If my friends become different people and I become a different person, then what’s holding us together besides willpower?
There’s something really nice about old friends, of course. But you can’t stay in college forever.
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