Growing Apart From Friends Back Home? That’s Okay #UnifiedFem

Have you found yourself growing apart from the friends that you thought were forever? You’re not alone. Megan Hunt shares her story and offers us words of comfort.

Friendships can be hard, especially when you go through massive changes like starting uni. Before then, the likelihood is you’ve had the same friends since primary school or most definitely since secondary school.

Here’s my story…

When I left year 13, my best friend had been there since year 4. I met two of my closest friends since year 7 and my other closest friend I made during sixth form.

Having gone to the same school from year 7 to year 13, I was pretty much friends with everyone at sixth form. I’d been in classes/form with most of the girls at some point in those seven years. We shared a massive chunk of our lives growing up together.

The last day of year 13 was full of tears and sobbing. And a lot of: “OMG – WE ARE GOING TO STAY FRIENDS FOREVER. I LOVE YOU ALL!”

Me and my best friend had many heart felt conversations along the lines of, “But no one will ever replace you” talk. And that’s on top of being very stressed at the thought of all the news friends we were bound to make at uni.

Then we started uni. The first few weeks were full of making new friends and forming immediate bonds. Because let’s face it, we all come to first year as a lone ranger. I found a new group within two days.

“Without seeing each other every day, I found that I had very little in common with most of my school mates.”

Reality check

Within the first few months of being a fresher, it was abundantly clear that I wasn’t going to remain friends with most people from my sixth form. This wasn’t that much of a surprise for me. Without seeing each other every day at school, I found that had very little in common with most of my school mates.

What came as a shock was that several of the girls who I thought were my very close friends, seemed to have swanned off to uni to become a whole new person. That meant I wasn’t involved anymore.

Old friends, new friends

Simultaneously, I was forging amazing new friendship at uni, while trying to cling on to established friendships back home. It also became pretty obvious that often the basis of friendship is shared experience. Uni just happens to be the most intense experience most of us will have gone through up to that point. It makes sense that the friends we run to are likely to be the ‘new’ friends from our courses, flat or societies.

“The basis of friendship is shared experience.”

I learnt a couple of valuable things about friendships during my first year that I think are worth knowing and bearing in mind:

Only the best will make the effort. It seemed to me that only your very best friends, the ones who really care, will make the effort to stay in contact regularly. Hand on heart, I have only remained in constant contact with 2 of my best friends from school.

That’s okay. It’s okay, because I made 5 really brilliant, supportive friends at uni who I’m in constant contact with, too. They’re the new friends who listened to me cry over assignments, moan about lectures and laugh at drunken nights out.

Just because you don’t speak every day, doesn’t mean that friend is gone. At first I found it really difficult to drift from my friends from school because we shared so many memories. Soon, I realised that maybe I needed to reach out too. When I did, it was clear that just because I wasn’t speaking to some of my friends from home all the time, didn’t mean they didn’t care or weren’t there for me. They were, we just had a friendship that was comfortable with more distance.

Distance has actually been really good for some of my friendships and helped me to trust and confide in my friends more. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder, even with friends.

It’s okay to lose friends. That’s it. I said it. It’s actually okay to not stay friends with the same people forever. It gave me so much confidence to branch out and make new friends at uni. I can guarantee I won’t speak to some of the friends I made in the last 3 years as often, or maybe ever again. Just like with friends from sixth form. But, that doesn’t mean that the friendship we had isn’t valid or wasn’t worth something. Whether a friend is in your life for 6 months or 60 years –  if they’re supportive, offer a shoulder to cry on, and make you laugh that friendship was worth it for the time it lasted.

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