As you get older a lot of things change, your height, your weight, your ability to grow facial hair, and a lot of other things. But one aspect that I wish hadn’t changed, but inevitably does change is the dynamics of a friendship. When you’re young being friends is as simple as playing tag with each other on the playground, and being best friends is as easy as sharing your gushers and letting them be the mom when you play house or the pink power ranger. As you get older your priorities change and therefore the dynamics and ease of friendship also change. When you get into middle school and high school your friends are those who like the same bands, tv shows, movies, sports (if you’re atheletic..aka not me), and (if you’re nerdy) books. They’re the people you can tolerate sharing every single class with and then talking to on the phone for hours after school about everything that happened during the day because you need to analyze your crush’s behavior during algebra II. When you get to college your friends are the people that you can tell anything to and they won’t judge you, but they may ask you if you were drunk or sober when you did it. They’re the people that are going to be in your life forever, they’re your soul mates in most cases. Or at least it feels like they are at that time in your life, like nothing could ever come between this bond you have with the person who has witnessed you dance on stage at the piano bar to ‘tiny dancer.’
The tricky part is maintaining those friendships after college is over. Why is that? Why would it be hard to maintain a friendship with someone you have been attached at the hip with for four years? With people you know basically everything about? With people who have been there for you at your absolute lowest (probably finals or a break up), and your highest highs (getting into your program or a date with your cute lab partner). Life, that’s why. See when you graduate from college everyone starts to go their own way. People start to relocate to different parts of the state, country and, if your friends are really ambitious, the world. Everyone starts to get big people jobs, find their romantic soul mates and everything changes.
Instead of being down the hall or across the street from your best friends, you’re across the state or country from them and that makes midnight taco bell runs pretty difficult to arrange. It also makes your friendship a lot more of a conscious effort. When you’re young you don’t have to remind yourself to talk or hang out with your best friends, you just do it because it would be weird to not. It would be like forgetting to brush your teeth, the entire day you would have this nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. But now that you aren’t geographically close to one another, being emotionally close is more difficult by default. Your life starts to get in the way of your weekly facetime dates with your besties. Your job gets in the way of weekend coffee dates. And it just sucks, to but it lightly.
Now when this happens no one is really to blame, even though you will probably lay the blame on someone. Sure sometimes one friend lets the friendship drop on their priority list a little quicker than the other, but eventually both stop trying. After missed calls, cancelled plans and awkward texts you go from being practically family to basically strangers. Now I’m not saying that this is the inevitable end for all the friendships you have in college, but it does tend to end this way for a few at the very least. And if those friendships don’t end, they become, by nature, less important than they were before.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I am the best friend you’ll ever have and claim that I haven’t lost any friends to life, because I have. Now most I haven’t lost completely, but I am not as close to a lot of people as I hoped or thought I would be. I do have a good handful of friends that I’ve managed to hold on to whenever life tries to rip them from my grasp. How do I do that? Well communication is probably the biggest factor. Life is busy and everyone gets distracted by it at some point; but amongst all of that hustle and chaos there is always downtime. So you have to remind yourself to make time to talk to your friends, you have to make a conscious effort to keep in touch. No, you don’t have to talk every day like you did when you were twenty. No, you don’t have to hang out with them every weekend. But you should text or call them every week or so just to check in and see how their life is. You should try to see them once a month or once a year, depending on how long of a car ride is between the two of you. Just put an effort of some kind into it, make a conscious effort to fit those special people into your life. But friendship is, and will always be, a two-way street. And yes people get busy, and yes people may forget to contact you. So if it happens once in awhile, that’s okay. But if you’re friends with someone who always happens to forget about you, maybe it’s time to let that string go, like a kite soaring in the sky. Because friendship is a beautiful thing, and you should remember it as it was, beautiful.