Sometimes, for whatever reason, friendships don’t work out — especially in high school, a place that movies like to pretend is an oasis of plucky good fortune and unlikely best friends. Sure, you might make friends with people and spend class days and weekends and field trips nurturing those friendships, but for whatever reason some of them just don’t make it out of the gate that is graduation.
You feel the genuine desire to cultivate a very specific, very intimate relationship with someone (or a group of people), and no matter how honest those feelings are and how hard you try, something just insists on being “off.” Whether it’s your jokes constantly rearing blank faces, different methods of handling insult, or teenage hormones doing their god awful thing, something prevents the relationship from being as fluid and easy as it should be. You don’t know what it is and you don’t know how to fix it, so you continue to try, and try, and try, and eventually the frustration boils over in the wrong way and there’s no longer a reason to even try to be friends.
Or it doesn’t boil over at all and one day you realize it’s been three weeks since you’ve spoken with someone, and then three months, and then three years.
You’ll think: “What a waste of my time,” or “Their fault for being stupid,” or even “You know what, fine — good riddance.” And at the time you’ll mean it. You’ll really, really mean it, likely because you’re young and tactless, but also because you’re confused and aggravated and resentful of something you don’t fully understand.
The truth of it is, regardless of how rocky or difficult a relationship may have been at times, it wasn’t a worthless endeavor. That’s the problem, that’s where all of the furious late night tumblr posts come from, even if you don’t quite realize it at the time, and it’s incredibly difficult to accept. It’s something you won’t *want* to accept.
You’re not mad because you wasted your time, you’re mad because — whether you were all just too young and stupid to figure your shit out or what — there was something unique and worthwhile that was lost, and it’s something you’re never going to get back or have any actual closure on. It’s especially biting when this happens in high school, because years later you understand how ridiculous high school is on the whole and pointlessly wonder “Well, what if we’d met now instead?”
It’s a mentally exhausting exercise, and there’s nothing productive that can come of it. Unless you both happen to be the type of people (which, years later, might be the case) who can write off the past completely and honestly, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be close friends again. And, even if you are both that type of person, there are often too many other real-life obstacles for a second chance to be plausible.
This is also frustrating, but it’s okay. It’s important, even.
Part of growing up is learning that, regardless of longevity, any relationship you bothered kindling over the course of your life served a purpose. The fact that you might no longer talk doesn’t negate the dozens of inside jokes you had (and still remember), or erase the nights you spent wandering around the beach, or incinerate the drawings you exchanged behind the backs of teachers in your high school classrooms. All of those things still happened, and when you find those drawings years later, buried in old notebooks, you’ll realize that your initial anger isn’t actually anger at all. It’s longing, or the resentment of a loss, in disguise.
You’ll feel stupid. You won’t like it. It’ll suck all around.
But that’s okay. Understanding that the people you’ve let go over the years mattered is massively important, and accepting that it’s okay if they continue to matter, regardless of whether or not you want to speak to them ever again, is even more so. We don’t vacantly drift through one another’s lives, even in an environment as vapid as high school. You may have loved someone, or hated someone, or just not have been able to figure out how to be best friends with someone, but the fact that it ended in flames — or ended at all — doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It means that for better or for worse, you lost something you cared about, and in all likelihood, you grew.