I think we can all agree that as we get older our circle of friends slowly starts to dwindle down as we navigate through life. Our journeys’ set sail in high school, where we are confined to four years in the hollows of a building from the hours of 7AM-2PM, befriending whoever happens to sit next to us in first period. Next, we mature our way into the land of college, where we gain independence and begin curating our niche group of friends based on various situational circumstances such as: ‘weekend friends’, ‘library friends’, and ‘workout friends’. Post-grad, however, starts to get a little more complicated. We’re officially “adults” (tbh the jury’s still out on that one), and we’re expected to embark on the real world with whatever irrelevant major we studied in hand, and are told to begin our careers based off absolutely no experience. Meanwhile, our meticulously hand-picked pool of friends we once felt secure with have either a) moved away to start a new and exciting venture, or b) are also navigating the next step of becoming real life “adults”. It’s a time of uncertainty, nostalgia, and fear with so much left to the unknown.
As our lives twist and turn our friendships ebb and flow along with them. Sometimes we become closer to someone we’ve always known, but never really clicked with in the past. Other times we drift from those whom undoubtedly have been there for us in times of need, but life decided it had other plans. We even hold on to friendships that lack compatibility, but exude loyalty, respect, and compassion, because we know friendships like these are few and far between. Most importantly, as we evolve we begin to understand who we are as individuals, what we want out of our lives, and what we can offer others. We become steadfast in our beliefs and realize that we are in complete control of what we do and do not allow into our personal bubbles. The unfortunate flip-side of this realization is that sometimes this means others get left behind, either by their own choosing, or by ours.
I’m willing to bet most of my friends don’t know this about me, but growing up making friends wasn’t always easy, however not for the reasons you may think. I considered myself an outgoing girl and I always found interest in being friends with different groups of people. I know. This all sounds contradictory to my pervious statement. Let me clarify. I, personally, never had any qualms making friends or finding commonalities with others. My family values, however, made it difficult for me to maintain these relationships. At this point I am very well aware that my blog is becoming redundant, alas growing up in a conservative Iranian family made it extremely difficult for me to nurture and sustain relationships. I frequently found myself being left out of social activities and school events, because it didn’t align with what my family deemed “appropriate”. This ultimately left me behind of the friendship curve, which always made me feel insecure and outcasted.
But when I was 16, this all changed.
I began working at a retail store (I’ll spare the details for obvious reasons) where I met another girl with whom I instantly connected. It just so happened that she too came from a sheltered Middle Eastern family, (I dare say more uptight than mine) and this was a point of bonding for the two of us. We innately understood aspects of each other’s lives that no one else could begin to fathom. It came naturally and without hesitation. As the years went on, our friendship continued to grow and develop and our alliance was undeniable. We were each other’s biggest supporters and emotional mainstays—we were sisters.
Naturally as the years went by, life went on as it always promises to do. I began my journey in nursing school, which took a lot of time away not only from her, but all my other relationships as well. I moved closer to the hospital where I was working and the distance seemed to play a role. I started dating my now husband and although the majority of my life became dedicated to my success in school and work, the very little time I did have left to myself, I spent on my personal health and you guessed it, with my then boyfriend.
I recognized that my friendships were taking a backseat and in hindsight I’m sure I could have done things differently, but the other side of the story was no more transparent. There was no understanding that while yes, we were all working towards a degree, being in nursing school at such a young age was very demanding and time consuming. There was no consideration of the fact that, while most of our peers were working or interning, their schedules did not require 5AM wakeup calls and 12 hour physically and mentally laboring shifts. There was no regard that yes, while I may have had 3-4 hours of free time, did not mean I was willing on spending it out partying. I could go on and on of the intricacies that lead to our friendship’s demise, but to no end, as it always does, life just happened. And I’m more than certain it has also happened to all of you.
As time went on, the relationship became toxic. Resentment started to build on both ends, and words were expressed, that have been forever seared into my memory. I carried that feeling of what we used to have with me for years. I hoped that one day it would all be water under the bridge and once was could be rebuilt.
That never happened.
After multiple conversations and Band-Aids over wounds, I finally began to take note of a never-ending pattern. Opportunities for open dialogue were offered and quickly rejected. Branches were extended in times of need, only to be cut off shortly thereafter. My sentiments were returned with dismissal, neglect, immaturity, and backlash. And that’s when I knew it was time to move on.
The realization was surreal; it was emotional and it was visceral. I truly believed that after all this time, we would grow to understand one another, but when that didn’t happen, I found myself disappointed; disappointed in her, in myself, and in how I saw the world. I had to make a decision. I had to choose to move on knowing that I had done everything in my power to salvage what was left. It was time focus my attention and efforts on other people in my life who were there for me and who did have my best interest at heart.
It’s a tough day when you realize there is toxicity in your life. It’s an even tougher day when you realize that toxicity is coming from someone you held to a higher standard. But that’s what growing up is all about. Realizing that people come into your life for a reason. Understanding that when things don’t work out, it’s most likely for the best. Learning from every experience and modifying your behavior in the future.
As we get older our desires change. Our priorities shift and what we want out of our lives becomes of utmost importance. What I want you to know is that it’s okay. It’s okay if your friendships fade. It’s okay if you make new friends you feel closer to than others you may have known for decades. It’s okay if someone no longer wants to be friends with you because of the way you make them feel. It is all normal and you’re not doing anything wrong. As long as you’re leading with love and acting with moral intentions, the rest is up to the hands of life. Know that you’ve fought your battle. Recognize where you fell short and where you found your strength. Then move forward with your lessons in your pocket and the belief that everything happens the way it is meant to happen.
Trust the process, trust life’s plan, and remember to always put your happiness first.
**For more in depth conversations on this post and many more, tune in to ‘Ever Forward Radio’ on Apple Podcasts and Spotify (or your favorite Podcast player) every third Wednesday of the month!