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Akers: You might be outgrowing a friend and that’s okay

Clemson University
The hard pill to swallow is that just because we grow, it doesn’t mean our friends do too.

One minute, you’re hanging out with them every day, sharing every ounce of gossip and laughing so hard you can barely catch your breath while thinking you can’t imagine a world without them, and the next, you find yourself struggling to answer a text message.

We all know how painfully tragic a breakup can be, but outgrowing your friends is an entirely different type of heartbreak that often leaves you confused. But you should know it’s normal and a common yet unfortunate part of life.

Many people tend to believe in a “forever” friend who’s supposed to be there throughout your entire life and always knows how to be your friend in every situation, but this is an impractical and often unrealistic standard. It can be easier to find this type of friendship when you’re younger, but as we get older, we inevitably change most things about ourselves, including our goals, values and beliefs. The tough reality is that just because we grow does not mean our friends do too.

If you think about it, maybe you’re no longer friends with that person you used to call your best friend in middle school. At that point in your life, you were both inseparable, but maybe that friend decided to join a group you didn’t particularly get along with, and distance grew. Or maybe they didn’t take school seriously, but you were very adamant about studying.

You can outgrow friends for a variety of reasons, and sometimes they can outgrow you. As a college student, you may know some friends who have already graduated that you used to hang out with daily, but now you haven’t heard from them in almost a year. Don’t worry; it doesn’t mean they hate you or don’t value your friendship. They’re just at a different chapter in life, and they may feel like they aren’t the same person they once were during the height of your friendship.

Although this sort of thing happens often, just know that it doesn’t have to mean the end for you and your friend. Although you may be on different paths that don’t align now, perhaps in the future, your paths will cross once again.

It’s okay if your “best” friend ends up becoming just a friend that you occasionally check in with and hang out with every once in a while. You may feel guilt, but don’t force the relationship. Doing this will only cause distance to grow and resentment to build the more you realize the extent of your differences.
Depending on the situation, it is also okay to feel like the friendship has reached a natural ending.

However, don’t just ghost a friend if this happens. Be open and honest with them about your feelings and why you will be keeping them at more of a distance. A friend who truly cares for you may feel saddened by this distance but will ultimately understand and respect your decision.

Remember, as a college student, you’re young and still navigating life, and it isn’t uncommon for friendships to come and go.

Madison Akers is a senior communication major from Easley, South Carolina. You can reach her at [email protected].

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Madison Akers, Asst. Opinion Editor
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