Shola’s Note: Hey Solutionists! In my effort to introduce you to some amazing people who are working hard to make this world a more positive place, I have a treat for you! On this month’s Solutionist Spotlight, I have the honor of presenting professional self-development and personal growth writer, Mike Jones. Without further ado, here’s Mike!
I think we don’t talk often enough about what it is like to lose your best friend.
Not in some catastrophic, dramatic way, but just slowly drifting apart, until one day, you realize they are completely gone, even though they’re standing right next to you.
In pop culture, losing a loved one almost invariably means losing the person you are romantically involved with. Best friends always patch things up in the movies, even if their relationship goes south at some during the story. But in real life, that doesn’t always happen.
And I can tell you for a fact, dealing with this sort of loss is hard.
Let me give you a little bit of context, so you understand where I’m coming from.
My best friend and I knew each other since middle school. In retrospect, I don’t really get why we got so close, but we did. I guess each of us had something the other one didn’t. I was always the bookish type (I avoid using the terms ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’ because they would sound way too cool for how I was). My best friend on the other hand was a veritable popular kid. Together, we were one unstoppable duo.
We stayed really close all throughout high school, and a good while during college. I started to focus more and more on my studies. I really liked going to class, and making the most out of my courses (I did mention I was a bookworm, right?).
I kind of stopped seeing my best friend as often as I used to. And often, I’d catch the both of us slowly drifting away as the other one talked. I know a lot of people say that their friends just changed a lot, and that’s why they no longer clicked–but with me, it was quite the opposite.
I felt like I was changing, and my best friend was still somehow stuck in high school. Long story short, I realized I no longer felt comfortable around her.
And that’s when it dawned on me that I had lost my best friend.
Accepting That It’s A Memory
Accepting this conclusion was very hard.
At the time, I was really into psychology and human behavior, so naturally I hoped science would help me patch things up. I looked up everything I could get my hands on, from victim psychology to symptoms of distorted thinking. They kept my mind busy, and they helped me understand the reasons why I felt the way I did, but they didn’t really help me cope with the situation.
But then I thought to myself, why hold on to this? What are we getting out this? Am I a better person for trying to make this work? Is she? I don’t know if asking these questions is going to help you, but they certainly helped me.
Because I started thinking about why we hold on to these things. And I guess, many of us are actually holding on to something that what is basically a memory of a time when everything was easy and fun. Deep down inside I knew I couldn’t help her grow as a person anymore, and neither could she.
I understood that the first step towards healing was letting go. Easier said than done. There’s was always the nagging feeling that maybe just maybe…
I took a step back, and thought to myself, wouldn’t it be weird if we hadn’t changed at all during these years? If we had just stayed exactly like we were in high school? Whatever was lost along the way is part of who we are right now. It’s neither good nor bad, it just is.
This thought really helped me accept the situation.
The Strength to Move On
Obsessing over my best friend, and the times we shared also helped me remember all of my other high school friends I’d never kept in touch with. I realized friendships are all in your head. The stuff my best friend and I did together was more or less incidental. It was the fact that I decided she was my best friend that made this so very important.
There’s a lot of pressure on friendships. Everyone talks about how important friends are, and why friendships are vital for our happiness. And I’m not the one to deny that. But, if they don’t contribute to your overall happiness, well, they’re not friendships.
More importantly, there’s no reason to hold on to them as if you’re life depended on them, because it doesn’t. I might seem like I’m a bit too pragmatic about all of this, but thinking about what we were getting out of this relationship helped me come to terms with the fact that sometimes it’s okay to let go of a relationship that’s not working out.
Friendships should help everyone involved grow, and as mentioned before, when that doesn’t happen, it’s not much of a friendship.
Later on, during my research I found a study that seemed to explain the whole process behind losing childhood friendships. Apparently, when you’re little, similarities between you and your friend don’t really count that much. But these similarities become increasingly important as you grow older, and eventually, if there aren’t enough things to keep you together, your friendship is going to break apart.
Dealing with the loss of your best friend is not going to be easy, no matter how you try to figure it out. I’m not entirely sure I’m ever going to get over it. But in time, all of that sadness and frustrations is slowly going to change into a warm, fuzzy, bitter-sweet feeling of nostalgia, that makes life worth talking about.
With a Master’s Degree in Mass-Communications, Mike Jones is a professional writer who focuses on personal growth and self-development. He is fascinated in psychology and in what makes people tick, and he uses that information to help people reach their full potential. You connect with him on Twitter here.