I’ve spent a long time this year thinking and overthinking, evaluating and reevaluating exactly what it is that has left my friendship circle (sorry to get a little playground on you!) smaller than I remembered this year.
When you’re five and making friends for the very first time, you proclaim exactly who your best friend is every week and if they’re lucky – or if you’re lucky – you’ll still be best friends that Thursday. Friendships are plentiful and fun and frivolous and all of that nice stuff at that age with only your parents left picking up the invitations, kids and pieces at the end. Tea at a friend’s house once a week and perhaps a monthly sleepover if you were lucky were the building blocks to a great friendship for the 90’s kid.
A quick read of any site aimed at the young professional twenty-something will clue you and I in on the fact that friendships sometimes just don’t make it. They speak of the seven-year itch and of friendships that make it around the world and back, but ultimately, it’s not unheard of for friendships to simply dissolve over time. And I get it.
The past year has been tumultuous at best: I’ve lived abroad, I’ve worked abroad, I’ve been strung along and lied to, I’ve bottled up sad news and worries of imminent grief, I’ve suffered losses, I’ve pressed ‘turbo charge’ on a new business, I’ve moved country again.
And with that I’ve picked friendships back up from when I left them at the airport to simmer slowly on WhatsApp chats, brief Skype calls and fun care packages. I’ve remembered what it means to be a sister, a daughter, a best friend. Twenty-something life is hard. There’s so much happening that, oftentimes, it feels like I’m trying desperately to hold sand in my palms, carefully and tightly. I try so hard but it spills from every corner, nook and cranny, and I can’t catch it all. One part will be great for a little stretch of time but another is inevitably crumbling. You want to start afresh and re-pour the sand and ”try harder next time” but it just keeps running away from you.
This year I’ve let a few once-great friendships spill and slip away and, you know what? I think I’m okay with that. When a friendship goes past the ‘great even when it’s been months since we saw each other’ stage and into ‘probably won’t see them again’ territory, that’s when it’s time to let go, for me. A friendship that ran its course through me running errands and solving problems and being the listening ear and the crutch and all manner of other things? The one that slowly drained me. A friendship where all I’d hear upon reply to sharing new updates in my life were negative remarks, thinly veiled jealousy and subtle ways of turning the conversation back to them? The one that nurtured my determination.
Growing out of friendships is tough but in a world and at an age where there is simply so much else to be nurturing your wellbeing with; sometimes it’s better to be brilliant at a few relationships than mediocre in a lot.