BY RACHEL WONG
Routine makes life so easy. We become so set in our ways that sometimes it’s hard to let go, especially when we decide to go one direction and life pulls us the opposite way.
When it comes to friendships and growing up, it took me a long time to really understand the obvious – that we all grow, and when we grow, we change. We are exposed to the world everyday and we learn so many new things. We meet new people and engage in new opportunities. All of these experiences shape who we are, and ultimately, we find like-minded people to spend time with along the way. Spending time with those who are similar to you can put you at ease – it feels natural to open up to people that you can relate to. But when friends inevitably change and paths no longer align, it can take a while to realize that it might just be time to part ways.
. . .
Alicia* and I were inseparable. It’s hazy in my mind now how we even got to being friends, but we have known each other since we were 6 and we have stayed friends ever since. Like most friendships do, ours had its ups and our downs, and we were there for each other during times of both triumph and sadness. We were the kind of friends that talked all the time about the future and what our lives would look like together: we’d be each other’s maid of honor at our weddings, we’d get matching SUVs and we’d alternate hosting play dates for our children during the day.
It was a very idealistic way of thinking, but despite reality eventually hitting us, we made it – sort of.
As we got older and were faced with the pressures of being a girl in the 21st century, we quickly realized how different we were and how we wanted very different things out of life. Our friend groups also suddenly became very different. Alicia had latched onto a group of people that I could tolerate but would rather not hang out with, so I tended to spend most of my time with a different group of friends. Despite this, I thought Alicia was still the same girl that I had trusted all those years. But I quickly realized that she had changed, and so did I.
Alicia got into partying and drinking and other overall questionable behaviour. She went from looking forward to pursuing a post-secondary education to just dropping the whole idea altogether – unsure of where she wanted to go. I’m not suggesting that this is a poor way to live your 20s – we all have our own ways of coping and finding ourselves – but her new lifestyle just wasn’t my thing. Friends should be comfortable around one another, and I quickly realized that I wasn’t comfortable doing any of the things she was into at the time.
Due to our differences in lifestyle and upbringing, we diverged at a certain point and have never really been the same since. When I went through a period of depression and wanting to commit suicide, I never turned to her. I’m not sure if she knows, or how much she knows if she does. But that’s when it hit me: isn’t someone supposed to be able to tell her best friend everything and anything? If Alicia was my best friend, why couldn’t I be honest about who I was with her? Why did I have to pretend like everything was okay around her, when I was telling other people that it wasn’t? Why did it make me uncomfortable to reveal my true self to her?
To this day, I haven’t totally figured it out. But then again, maybe I don’t have to.
We grow and we change, and we don’t owe anyone any explanation whatsoever. What we may be into today may not be the same 5 years from now – and that’s okay, because change is natural and healthy.
Find those friends that embrace you in every part of your life and help you each day to grow better and better. With regards to my relationship with Alicia, we still keep in touch, though not as regularly as before. I have faith that if we were destined to be true friends until the end, we will be brought back together again somehow. Until then, I wish her well, but I will continue on my own path of exploration – on my own.
Rachel Wong is a Communications and International Studies student at Simon Fraser University. Aside from Speak Out, Rachel is also a regular contributor for the Student Life Network and SFU’s student newspaper The Peak. She loves going on foodie adventures, kicking back with friends and telling other people’s stories – all while writing her own. Her dream is to read off a teleprompter for a living one day. Rachel hopes to help change the way society looks at mental illness, one word at a time. You can find more of Rachel’s work at http://rchlcwng.blogspot.com.