Dear Ivy: I HAVE NEW FRIENDS, BUT I’M STILL MISSING MY OLD ONES
I’ve had a lot of friends in elementary school, but now I’m graduating high school and I only have 2 best friends that I can be myself around. What I miss is my old friends that I grew up with. I drifted away from most of them and with others, things ended pretty badly. Because of these issues with my friendships in the past, I feel like it’s getting harder for me to open up and trust people, even my friends. I get sad because I love my best friends now, but I miss the memories and the friends I’ve lost. I have such good memories from my time with them and I’m sad that I never got to grow with them. I’m always on edge and I feel like I can’t trust when my friends say they are happy for me or when they want to be there for me. I feel like a burden on them and it’s like I’m just waiting for them to wake up one day and realize they don’t want to be friends with me anymore. I feel kind of hopeless and I just don’t know what to do.
- Hopeless, 17
I completely relate to your situation! I had a best friend I met in the second grade, and we had a terrible falling out in high school. I was very hurt and devastated and I felt like everything I believed in the past, was a lie. I know it’s frustrating always being on edge and wondering if there is something you could’ve done to keep the friendship and hoping things were different. However, it is important to know that in friendships, time isn’t important. I know what it feels like to cling to the happy memories and the nostalgia of childhood friends – I mean they were with you as you were growing. But here is the kicker, you never really stop growing, so the friends you have now have also grown with you. I am almost sure you are not the same person you were when you met them, because you, and them have grown together.
It may be upsetting to think about where things went wrong, but it’s important to understand that the good memories never go away. The good memories stay with you, and they can sometimes block out the bad ones. Even though you may not be friends now, at one point in your life, they were very important to you, and you loved them – hold onto that.
I can understand it may be difficult to trust again, and it might do you some good to communicate that with your current friends. Communication, trust and understanding is very important in friendships, so if you’re friends know and understand where you are coming from, it will help them in developing the friendship with you so that you feel loved and safe.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known them because sometimes the friends you’ve had for a short period of time can be better friends to you than someone you’ve known your entire life. I can admit that I’m not friends with a bunch of people I was friends with as a kid, but I found some very good people who I’ve developed very strong relationships with and I’m more than thankful for them.
But Hopeless, going back to the nostalgia you are feeling for your old friends is completely okay and normal. What people don’t understand is that friendships are just like any other relationship. This means that when you drift apart or “break-up”, you feel a loss in your life. It is important to acknowledge that – acknowledge the fact that you lost someone important in your life. It’s okay to grieve that loss and miss it from time to time – but remember, you always have the good memories associated with that period in your life.
You have these close friends with you now, and the number of friends you have isn’t what’s important, it’s the quality of them that is important. If these friends make you happy, and make you feel loved and accepted, it’s necessary to focus on that and build the relationship you want with them. Friendships come both easy and with a lot of work. It should feel easy to be yourself in a friendship, but you must also put in the work to maintain it, and that goes for all parties involved!
You are young, and you will continue to meet people in your life that are there just to pass you by, some will be there to stay forever, but whatever happens, life will go on and you will hold onto the good memories with those people.
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