There are times when you meet someone and you just naturally vibe with that person, to the point that every time you're in that person's company you're comfortable. That's how it was with a former friend of mine who I'll call “Kay". Kay is a few years younger than me, but we both share a lot of the same experiences and interests, and everything just meshed. We met at work and immediately hit it off. We took our breaks together, arranged to have our desks near each other, ate lunch together and even hung out after work—we were tight.
As time went on, I ended up leaving the company and she stayed on. We attempted to meet up outside of work a few times; however, it just wasn't the same. I couldn't for the life of me understand why we drifted apart, but eventually I was able to understand she was my friend for that particular season and within that particular climate. The season was my time at the company—she became a person that I could vent to about issues at work and vice versa, and we understood each other within that particular climate.
Eventually, I had to come to terms with the fact that outside of the work climate, we were totally different people with totally different interests other than the ones we shared while on the job. I had to accept the fact that even though to this day we remain acquainted via social media and will hug and speak when we see each other, we are no longer friends. I don't know what's happening with her on a day to day basis and that's okay because our friendship served a particular purpose for a limited timed, and those memories will always be special.
Like everyone, I've now come to accept it as a part of life. Losing a friend is indeed not much different than breaking up with someone romantically. Anytime you bond with someone and that bond is broken, you're going to hurt. What these experiences have taught me is that some people are only put in your life for a season, and eventually that season will come to an end. It's as simple as that. Here are a few of my takeaways from friendships that have come and gone.
Understand the Climate of the Friendship
As human beings, we bond with people and form friendships in all sorts of places. Whether it's through work, school, the gym or any number of other social groups, unless you're entirely anti-social most people form friendships in the aforementioned atmospheres or “climates". What most people don't foresee; however, is the effect “climate change" can have on these relationships. This was my experience with Kay. Once I left the atmosphere of our relationship (work) the climate of our friendship changed, and unfortunately it didn't change for the better.
People Lose Their Compatibility
Throughout the changes I've been through with friends who have come and gone, I've come to realize that sometimes it's not the climate—it's the connection between the people that diminishes. This is exactly what happened between myself and a former friend of mine. We met when we were in middle school and bonded immediately. When high school came along we were still very tight, but somewhere between meeting new people and starting to date, the connection that once made us inseparable began to diminish.
She began to make friends with people whom I wouldn't normally associate with and began to participating in things that I wasn't cool with it—this put a wedge between us. Eventually, we just stopped talking all together. Years later, we attempted to reconnect as adults, but unfortunately the friendship couldn't be revived. It just wasn't the same between us. Like Kay, we remain connected via social media and we're cordial when we see each other, but other than her social media posts I really don't know who she is anymore. What I learned from that experience, however, is that compatibility is the fuel to any relationship. You can like someone but no longer be compatible. Though it can be a hard pill to swallow, it's just the way life goes. Our season was over.
People Grow Differently and I Respect That
This is something I struggle with to this day. While I've had people in my life who I've cared about, but was able to let them go their separate ways, I have one friend who I can't let go of. This person is more like a sister to me than just a friend. She is someone who I could never see myself simply moving on from. This is very tricky for me, because there is nothing wrong with this friend, she is a beautiful person inside and out—we are simply on different levels in life. This makes it difficult for us to spend time together. She is going through some very difficult things, and has been going through these situations for a while now. She has sought my advice, and I've offered it and even offered to help her out of her situation, but for some reason she never removes herself from her situation. This is a person I've been friends with as far as back as I can remember, and I can't ever see myself totally abandoning her, but I have kept my distance from her for several reasons.
One reason I remain distant is that fact that her situation is “toxic," and listening to her woes began to affect my life negatively. I was constantly worrying about her and trying to come up with ways to help her, but in all honesty she either didn't want my help or she wasn't ready for the changes that came with it. It hurts to keep my distance because I miss her, but also because I can see she is so much greater than her circumstances. As much as I try to build her up she still remains blind to her potential.
Not to sound cliché, but I had to learn to love her from a distance. When she's ready to rise up from everything that keeps her from flourishing I'll be right here for her, but for now I can't expose myself to her negative aura. I know this may seem to contradict everything I wrote previously, however, it is in my opinion that some bonds should never be broken, even if they are weakened at times. So while our bond is weakened currently, it isn't broken, and I have faith that our time apart is only temporary.
As I've grown older, I've learned to keep my circle small but strong.
I have a few good friends that I can count on and they can count on me as well. I've found that reciprocity is an essential element for friendships to thrive. Within my current friendships, we build each other up to be the best we can be. My new circle of friends are mainly composed of people who I believe aren't just here for a season, but are people I am confident I can weather any storm with, and I'm sure they feel the same. While I cherish all the connections I've made throughout my life, because I've generally been able to take away something valuable, I'm fine with the fact that some people just aren't my friends anymore, and I wish them the best.
What about you? What life lessons have you learned from friends who have come and gone?