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When Friends Leave

Not everyone you meet will stay.

In the fifth grade, I had only two friends. The three of us were pretty much inseparable. It was like watching Mean Girls in real life but we were in elementary school. Every night we'd three way call each other, and everyday we'd have a dress code. Everyone was convinced we'd be lifelong friends, and we couldn't imagine it any other way, until the day it was clear it wouldn't stay that way.

Soon after moving, we all started middle school. I found out years later that my two best friends ended up hating each other and had an all-out rivalry and feud until the day they graduated high-school.

Since the fifth grade, I've had a lot of friends, and "friends." What I mean by "friends" are the people who are only there as background noise. Not really acquaintances, but they don't really know too much about you and don't really care to. These people are the people who will ask for your homework, how your weekend was, if you're scheduled to work, and so on. And then there are your friends.

Your friends are the people you confide in. It's beyond the, "How was your day?" And "Oh, it was good." You tell them what you did for the weekend, and you ask them if they watched that show you told them to watch, that sort of thing. You tell them everything personal, you make an effort to see them, talk to them, and then all of the sudden you realize things had changed.

You don't see each other as much, the almost daily chats come down to a every other week, "Hey, how are you?" You realize you're drifting apart and you can't understand what went wrong.

The truth is, is that people come and go. Sometimes you realize that the people you filtered as background noise were the ones who've been there all along, and the ones you considered as a friend was actually the background noise.

In high-school I had a couple of (sort of) next door neighbors. These two boys lived just down the street and the three of us soon became friends. From middle school, all up until high-school, we hung out every single day. They would come over, my mom would cook us dinner, and we'd spend the day doing homework, playing video games, and watching movies.

One day, only one of my friends had come to hang out, and soon it became a routine. Our other friend started to ignore me, and we went for years without talking. When he finally came to talk to me years later, we were happy to see each other, but he only stuck around for a few months before blocking me on all social media and ignoring me once again. 

I've had friends where things would be fine one day, then the next day everything wasn't fine and I'd get messages pointing out everything I had done wrong until it became the blame game.

It's easy to blame a friend, or ex-friend, for your falling out. There are irrational people out there, and I can guarantee that you will have a friend where everything is fine, and then they flip out for no reason. They'll you of things you have never done, then block you out of their life leaving you wondering what the heck just happened. They exist, and they're out there. It won't always be your fault.

But what about those rational, heart-to-heart moments? What about the times when a friend leaves without saying anything? You can apologize for getting angry in those irrational moments, or even apologize for saying things you didn't mean, but how do you deal with someone who points out the truth. How do you deal with those who tell you that you weren't a great friend? These are the moments that hurt the most.

Why do friends leave?

The thing about friendships is that they're not set in stone. Everyone thinks and processes things differently. We get offended over different things, and sometimes the things we do may accidentally rub someone the wrong way. This is what makes friendships so complicated; we're all different. 

It's not easy coming to terms with friends who leave. When the anger passes, it hurts. It's important to remember that the friend who left you was probably hurting too. Sometimes it will be your fault, sometimes it'll be their fault, but most of the time it's both of your faults.

  1. You both weren't up front. It's simple to say, and we all won't do it, but it's important to be upfront with a friend with you've felt like you hurt, or a friend who hurt you. Leaving without saying anything is just as bad as those who leave with a lot of hurtful things to say.
  2. You're overthinking a situation. Perhaps you said something that was meant to be a joke, or maybe you said something that you didn't really mean. I've had moments where a friend would do exactly that to me, and I would carry what they said to me (or about me) throughout my day until it festered into anger. People are people, and we'll always say things accidentally, or do things we didn't really mean. It's just important to remember that maybe the joke was really a joke and not what they really think or feel about you. And that maybe your friend really was sorry for what they said.
  3. It wasn't meant to be. Maybe your schedules don't line up, maybe you realized that the paths you're taking are far from your friend, or maybe as time goes on you both realize you don't get along. My philosophy is, is that when a friend leaves permanently, it wasn't meant to be. Things happen and if they leave, or if you leave, your friendship wasn't meaningless. They were part of the journey but they were not meant to stay for that journey.

Remember each friendship.

Each person you've been friends with has taught you something. Whether it be negative, or positive, they've each made you stronger not just emotionally, but have shaped you as a person. 

Always remember not to forget those who do stay. The ones who've been there and haven't left. The ones who don't leave even when you've said something hurtful, or are going through a tough time, are the ones who truly matter. They're the ones who aren't just memories, but the ones you're making memories with.

Each and every friend is part of your journey. Always remember the friends who left because they've given you a lesson in what it means to be a friend, and the things you should continue to work on and cultivate. But most importantly, always remember the friends who are staying for the whole journey, because in the end, they're ultimately what you would call, "true friends."

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