Outgrowing Your Friends Doesn’t Make You a Bad Person
Growing Apart From People is Sad but Sometimes Necessary
From about ages 5 to 11, I had three or four best friends and they all lived on my street. We did everything together. Our summers were spent playing stick ball or manhunt and during the winter we occupied ourselves by going sledding and having snowball fights. Oh, to be a kid again.
All of them went to a different school than I did, as all their parents sent them to Catholic school and I attended Forrest Edwin Elementary.
I made some great friends at school from first to fifth grade but I always knew my true ride or dies were back on Vista Street. To further complicate the friendship though, all my Catholic school friends on my block got to go right home after school let out, while I had to go to Forrest’s daycare program until my Dad was done work around 6. Still though, they were my best friends so we made it work. I didn’t get to see much of them during the school week but we certainly made the most of the time we had on weekends and throughout summer.
As close as I was to the three or four kids I grew up with on my street, by the time I made it to sixth grade and moved onto middle school, it seemed like so much had changed between us — and not just on my end.
I was really into skateboarding and only one of my friends from my street were. Skateboarding was the first of many factors that led to me outgrowing the first group of friends I ever had.
They were going to school dances I wasn’t allowed to attend since I wasn’t a student at St. Matthew’s. They were getting invites to parties from kids they went to school with that I never met. Life happened and we all went our separate ways. I think I felt bad about this for awhile, like it was my fault.
The casual hellos as we passed by each other eventually faded and pretty soon, people who were once my absolute best friends in the entire world — my only friends at one point — became strangers to me.
As silly as it may sound, I’m glad the one friend who still lived on the block and I finally started saying hi when we seen each other, before I finally moved off the street for good a few months ago. I’ll always cherish those memories I have with that group of childhood friends of mine and I wish them nothing but the best.
This same thing has happened to me, time and time again over the years. I get really close with a group of friends for five to ten years and then slowly but surely, one by one, we all seem to go our separate ways. Some have remained closer with a few than they have with others, myself included. But for the most part, we’ve all just kind of moved forward with our lives, no hard feelings.
When this happens, people typically look for answers or assume the worst. We’re naturally somewhat insecure about ourselves and judgmental of others, as human beings. We wonder if it’s something we said or did that caused the distance, a slight the other never spoke up about perhaps.
But often, the explanation is much simpler and less personal — which is It’s just a part of life.
We grow up, we get new jobs and phone numbers. We move, meet new people, and start new businesses. We get married, have kids and meet more people. We get depressed, divorced and have a mid life crisis.
Maintaining friendships throughout all life throws at us, is often a test of friendship itself. A natural selection system of friendship, if you will. The strong ones survive and the weak ones get killed off. Survival of the fittest.
There are also friends, who you’re better off outgrowing. Some people never grow up. They’re doing the same thing today as they were when they were sixteen years old — because sadly, they’re no different than they were then. Without the growth that happens that causes casual and even good friends to go separate ways, you end up as one of these people. We all have that “friend”.
The one who is still focused on drama, gossip and nonsense. They have nothing going on for them and no hopes or goals for the future. They’ve settled in life and blame everyone but themselves for where they’re at. Many of them still hold onto old romances from when they were a teen. They’re still fixated on an ex who’s happily married with children, because they never matured emotionally beyond those high school hallways.
To not outgrow these people — or simply cut them off — is one of the worst mistakes you can make. Get rid of the “I can never catch a break” friends.
However, people will come into your life who you envision being around forever. While a handful of them may be, the majority won’t. Sometimes there’s reasons for it but more often than not, it’s just what naturally occurs as our lives evolve. Though sad, it’s usually a sign of progress for both parties.
If I have less time to sit around and bullshit with my buddies, that’s a good sign. It means I’m growing, in some other aspect of my life — be it socially romantically or financially. Friends who aren’t happy for you when this happens, probably aren’t friends to begin with.
And the absolute truth is, we make time for the people in our lives who matter, no matter what. People hold onto the friendships they cherish most.
A sign of a strong and healthy friendship and relationship of any kind is when the other person is able to grow with you. When they can be happy for all you’ve accomplished and survived as a person, without quietly tallying up how many times they’ve called and gotten your voicemail. This is how friendships and relationships grow as well. Unfortunately though, some aren’t meant to grow together and grow apart instead.