Circles of Friends
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The following anecdote is from a year ago (yes, that’s how good I am at procrastinating — I’ve been meaning to write this post for over a YEAR):
I recently had lunch with a friend who I haven’t seen in about a year. I thought it was two years, but she was positive that we saw each other at some point when we were sophomores. The only thing I really remember is me storming out of her dorm room freshman year after some stupid argument I can’t even remember now.
During our surprisingly non-awkward breakfast, she looked at me and said, “You abandoned me when I needed you the most. That’s why I was so angry at you.”
I was shocked. I thought that she had been upset about the small dispute we had at the end of freshman year, but looking back, I did remember her calling and texting me. I remember looking at the phone and thinking “I’ll get back to her later.” Which is awful. She was my best friend throughout high school (and middle school) and I completely left her as soon as we stepped into the world of college.
To be honest, I left a lot of people when I started college. I left some of my closest friends from high school behind in such a manner that I haven’t spoken to them in almost three years. But that’s a story for a different time.
As we were parting ways, my friend turned to look at me and said, “Well, I guess I’ll see you next year.” I was so startled that I blurted out, “No, wait, I want to be friends again.”
She stopped and turned back to look at me and told me: “Lily, we’ve been friends. We’re still friends; I’ve always considered you a friend. My therapist told me that we’re still friends even if we only see each other once a year.”
I replied in probably the worst way possible: “Well, like not to invalidate your therapist or anything but that’s bullshit. You can’t be friends with someone if you only see them once a year.”
Update: I’ve seen her at least three times since then. We occasionally text, and she spent the night a few weeks ago.
As I move on post-undergrad graduation, I am finding that this blog post becomes more and more applicable to my life.
What I said a year ago was, first of all, extremely invalidating; but more importantly, it was wrong. As I talked it out with my therapist, she reprimanded me for being judgmental and invalidating, but then took out a white board and started drawing circles within circles.
It kind of looked like she was drawing a diagram of our solar system’s planets, if planets had perfectly circular orbits. However, instead of the sun being in the middle, she wrote my name (which is basically an accurate representation of how I live anyway).
“Now, you are at the center of this, everyone else falls on one of these circles. Those closest to you are your family, your closest friends, those who you will hold near and dear to you forever; they would go in the first circle. As the circles get farther away from you, so does the friendship — all the way out here on the last circle are going to be high school friends, who you sometimes like their social media posts. However, they’re all still your friends.”
So there you have it. It was a learning lesson for me, and to this day I think about it every once in a while. Just like planets and moons, people can get thrown out of orbit. People can get pulled in closer. However, each “circle of friends” has its own ups and downs: the ones farthest away are fun to comment about how far they’ve come since their emo high school days; and those closest are there for you every step of the way.
No matter who you are, or why you’re in my orbit, I’m happy to call you my friend.
Thanks for everything,