Friends become harder and harder to keep as we head into our 20s. People whom we grew up with back in high school, which have been with us through our most awkward and insecure phase can change when we grow up.
For 13 years, I grew up with this group of childhood friends that I thought I would spend my life growing old with. I picture about them being there for me throughout the most important events of my life – graduation, engagements, marriage, breakups, the birth of my first child, etc etc. We have traditions, good traditions that keep the friendship strong. We celebrate all birthdays, festive seasons and made friendship pacts that we will always be there for each other.
However, our life course change as we grew up and out of high school. Suddenly, we all developed different. Growing up means learning different things, having different experiences and carving out different life goals. While most of my friend developed in almost the same path, I have came out a little differently and started to stand out a bit like a sore thumb.
Perhaps I have not been paying attention or I was too absorbed in moving towards my goals that I neglected to see that I was moving in an opposite direction from my childhood friends. Out of the blue, they are getting engaged, preparing to get married and ready to move on the next phase of their lives. Here I am, just starting to figure my life out after a late graduation and starting on my first job. Just when things are beginning to look like they are coming together for me, I realised that I have moved even further away from my childhood friends.
It began with questioning about my life choices and how I have turned out so differently. We used to get along and laughed at the same things. We even have our own secret language that no one outside the group could understand. But suddenly, I felt that I have never been more isolated from them even when I’m surrounded by their presence. There was nothing left in common except memories and tradition as well as self-doubt, desolation and depression. I often wondered what I did wrong and where I have gone wrong and why I could not go on the “right” path of wanting to start a family. I still fantasize about travelling the world, writing a book, falling madly in love or doing something meaningful for the poor.
It is difficult to make the decision to “break up” with my friends. I am afraid of loneliness, afraid of having no one to turn to when I need help as well as spending all festive seasons alone. The relationship is comfortable but it no longer makes me happy. It feels burdensome and depressing instead of fulfilling. I thought long, deep and hard and still I could not find a perfect solution.
I akin this situation to couples who have been in a long term relationship with each other and they become so comfortable that they dared not moved away because it is scary to have no one. It is even more difficult to meet “real” friends in your 20s and so many of us cling to meaningless friendships with those who have nothing in common with us. They may not have wronged us but they may have unintentionally hurt us and it wouldn’t feel good. When you see your friends giving you looks of pity instead of reaching out to understand, then maybe we should take a step back and consider making the difficult choice in stepping away from our comfort zone and the childhood friends that we once loved and cherished.