I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment it happened. I wish I could look back at my old calendars and see the date when everything changed. I wish I would have known then that those were the days I would miss forever. We were all so young, and we had no idea what would be coming to meet us later in life.
We used to be so carefree. I remember when our biggest stressor in life was trying to find a ride to the coffee shop, and now I am sitting here, staring into my empty coffee cup, wondering how it all could have gotten this bad. When was the last time we hung out without having to check our calendars first? Can I even call a person anymore without scheduling an appointment first?
What happened? Who have we become?
We used to roam the streets of our hometown without a care in the world and now I can barely even bring myself to walk outside to get the mail. We used to stay up all night just so we could take a walk as the sun rose to greet the day. And now? Now I only associate the sunrise with my pain. I am either watching it because my anxiety stole another night of sleep away from me or I am forced to wake up early to do work that often leaves me feeling worthless.
When did we get this tired?
Hanging out with friends used to be the escape from the world that we all needed. But now it feels like no matter where I go, I will never be able to escape what I have become. I am exhausted. I am depressed. I am anxious. I am watching the world pass by in front of me, and most days, I do not have the energy to do anything about it.
I miss the days when I used to be able to hang out with my friends without feeling guilty for doing so. I miss understanding the importance of a work-life balance and knowing when a break was not just important, but vital. Most of all, I miss my friends. I miss who we used to be. I miss being happy and feeling like we could do anything. I used to have so many dreams, but now they have all been replaced by nightmares.
We have replaced long phone calls with intermittent texts. Instead of making time for people, we find ways to multitask them into our already hectic schedules. We leave our best friends on read, and then we wonder why they won’t answer our calls anymore. We have replaced companionship with convenience.
We prioritize our careers as if they do the same for us. We make time for big events so we can see our friends and loved ones all in one place. We try to fit in as much quality time into one time slot as we can, even if that means losing all of the quality. We are all so dedicated to this plague of contemporary convenience that we have forgotten the real people with real emotions we are hurting every day. This includes ourselves.
We go to these big events with our polite smiles plastered across our faces and our hands gripped tightly around our drinks. We can’t even recognize the people standing in front of us. We can barely even recognize ourselves. We ask each other, “How are you?” as if anyone is actually listening. We use placeholder words so that we don’t have to have feelings, and we laugh on cue to hide our pain. Why do we hide from the people we care about the most? Why do we act like we can flip a switch once we become adults, forgetting everything about who we once were and ever wanted to be? When did we stop caring about each other?
One day you are giggling and taking photos together, swearing that you’ll never leave each other’s lives, and then all of a sudden, you are sitting at your desk trying to remember the last time you even spoke to your best friends. You sit there staring at a calendar that is booked solid with work and appointments, and you realize that you don’t even have time for yourself in your own life anymore. You are living a life that you have somehow managed to even cut yourself out of. You feel like a robot stuck on autopilot; you wake up, you work, you go to bed. You do not have time to live. You are not living. This is never how you wanted your life to be.
Where did all of your light go? Where did your life go?
You are now at that age when the only time you ever see your friends is at a wedding or a funeral. You start every conversation with “I wish I was seeing you under different circumstances,” and then you make plans to catch up, which we all know no one will ever follow through with. We only make time for the beginnings and the endings, yet most of the most significant occurrences that happen in our lives happen in the moments in-between. We are there to cheer each other on in the beginning and then hold each other up at the end, but what about during the intermission? The breakdown? Where were we then?
Yes, it is important to be there for people in those big, emotional moments, but what about all of the small ones they encountered along the way? Remember when we used to celebrate everything? No milestone was too small. No moment was too short. We relished the time we had, and we lived. We met each day with everything we had, and we were there for each other through it all.
I want to be there for them again. I want to see my friends at their best and their worst, but I also want to be there for the moments we have convinced ourselves don’t matter because now I am realizing just how much they do. I want to know what books they are reading and if they still drink their coffee the same way as I remember. I want to know what they made for dinner last night and how many work emails they were forced to read all day. I want to know everything about them, and I never want to take those small moments for granted again.
One day, you will not be able to ask them how their day was, and it will be devastating. We are all busy people, but please do not make yourself so busy that you forget to let yourself live. We will never be certain of how long we have to live our lives, so I hope today, you let yourself get back to living. I hope you call your best friend. I hope you talk about nothing for hours. Because I promise you, in the end, what seemed like nothing will actually be what meant everything.