It’s been about six months since I’ve finished school, and I’ve done the usual things one is expected to accomplish post-grad: I got a full time job, I’m paying off bills quicker, and I’m taking reasonable steps towards future career goals while still basking in the freedom from homework, exams, and day to day interaction with other jaded students. There have also been transitions that I’ve been undergoing that I wasn’t at all anticipating, mostly having to do with my relationships with the people who are (and were) in my life. When you’re in school, despite how cynical you may have become due to the curve balls life throws at you, you still maintain somewhat of a rose-colored glasses perspective, especially with your friendships. There comes a point in college where you realize you’re basically an adult, which translates to thinking that the other young adults in your life have to remain there forever. For some, this may be true, but the reality is that just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean that you’re done growing. As people grow up, sometimes people grow at different times, in different directions, and ultimately apart.
1. Losing Friends
The toughest pill I’ve had to swallow was dealing with losing those who were once close to me. This is something that happens all throughout life, but when you’re an adult, losing friends hits you much harder than it ever had before. Like I said before, when you’re just becoming an adult, you think that everyone else is at the same level of maturity you are, and that since you’ve come into your own together, these people will be around until you die. After graduating college, I learned that slowly, people start dropping all around you from different walks of life. A lot of people. When this happens, there’s always that sense of astonishment and betrayal. There are those constant “what the hell” thoughts that pass through your mind, because you were banking on the fact that these people would always be around. The disappointment, I think, comes from a place of desperation. In your twenties, while it is such a ripe time in your life, you begin to realize your own mortality and how fleeting life can be, and naturally, you want to hold onto as many people as you can. I’ve begun to realize that having friends in college was so easy because you get to rely on the fact that you will, at some point, see them at any given moment almost everyday. There was little to no effort involved when you wanted to see them, because, chances are, you were going to anyway. These were convenient times. You were also leaning on each other because you had the commonality of being in school together at the same time. You had someone to bitch and moan about projects, professors, and exams with at the on-campus Starbucks. But once you’re handed that diploma, it also serves as a once-way ticket from those academic and surface level friendships. But just like it’s completely normal losing people you were friends with as a young child, losing your close adult relationships is also part of life. But just because your friends list is shrinking doesn’t mean there’s no hope in maintaining the ones you have.
2. Maintaining Friendships
Having realized that the only thing I had in common with some of my friends from college was the fact that we were in college, I frantically began making a mental list of ways I can hold onto the people I’m currently still close to. It’s unfortunate to say, but slipping into complacency is an easy thing to do, which then makes losing friends really easy as well. While it is easy to get into the mindset of “I’ll just wait for them to contact me,” this is also such a prime opportunity to turn your young friendships into rich and lasting life-long relationships. Taking the step to actively keep pursuing a friendship with someone can go such a long way, and will also hold so much meaning to the other person. Sometimes the pursuit of these friendships can lead to a dead end, but you won’t know how their potential and how meaningful they can be unless you put in the effort.
3. Creating New Friendships
Another reason why losing friends is so disappointing and maintaining friendships is such a daunting task is that the idea of creating new friendships is scary. There’s the awkwardness of the early stages that we want to avoid, and also the fear that any new friendships won’t last, and both of these anxieties together make a deadly combination. The truth of the matter is that whether you’re losing friends, maintaining friendships, or creating new ones, friendships take hard work – and there’s still no guarantee that they’ll last. But I urge you to not completely rule out making new friends as an option. After you graduate, you’ll be exploring new avenues in your life that can open doors to new relationships. Whether you’ll be entering into the workplace, joining a new church, or joining come kind of interest group, you’ll be spending majority of your time with all new people – so why not try to make your time with them even more enriching by developing a bond with them? I’ve found that making friends as an adult is so much more rewarding because this is the first time you’re stepping out and attempting relationships outside of an academic setting, where friendships are almost forced to be created. Just as it can get awkward trying to maintain an existing friendship, it’s even scarier trying to create new ones. But no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise, confining yourself into a box won’t bring contentment. Friendships take work – both old and new.