I grew apart from my childhood friends, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them

So many times I’ve seen the same story played out again and again in movies or on TV: some girl’s first-grade best friend grows up and becomes her maid of honor. That’s an adorably sweet story, yes. But it hasn’t happened to me. Because, well, my childhood friends and I aren’t that close anymore. As I grew up, and as they grew up, we grew apart from one another. Now when I see pictures all across the internet of a friend of mine happy at a wedding, I think about how I knew them all in first grade. Then I start thinking, “wasn’t I supposed to be there, too? Didn’t we make a BFF pact to be in the other’s wedding, and we solidified it with metal heart necklaces from Claire’s?”

But I’ve learned that it’s OK if the “forever” part of “best friends forever” isn’t what you thought in third grade. I wasn’t supposed to be at that wedding. I wasn’t supposed to be there because I’m not as close friends with those girls anymore as I was when we made that pact. It sounds harsh, but I don’t mean it that way. As we grew in different directions, we grew apart. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s amazing if you can be close with the same people since middle school. But it’s not written in stone that you have to stay friends forever with the girls who knew you before you got your first bra.

I’ve always been one to move a lot. I moved from middle school to a new high school in a different town. I moved from my hometown to a different state to go to college. After college, I moved across the country. Along the way I made hordes of new friends at each stop, but in doing so, I also lost touch with old friends in the process. Soon, I found it difficult to explain to friends I had left behind exactly what I was doing with my life. One of my best friends from high school came to visit me in the first big city I settled in. We were still friends, yes, but it was hard to connect to her like I once had. I was at one radical end of the spectrum in life, and she was at the other. We had fun together, but that was the last time we were truly friends.

It was then that I really understood how friendships can change and evolve. It’s not meant to be viewed as a sad thing to grow apart from someone, because it happens all the time. I mean, the 5th grade me had weird bangs and only wore denim leggings and was ridiculously into Zac Hanson and now my bangs aren’t as weird anymore and I like Isaac more. People change, plain and simple. That means friends do, too.

I’ve got lost of old pictures of me and friends from way back when tucked away in a box under my bed. Every now and then I’ll happen to look through it, and I’ll remember the fun times we had. Those are great, amazing memories to hold on to, but it doesn’t make me sad that I’ve lost touch with them. Dr. Seuss says, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Shakespeare says, “We lose it not so long as we can smile.” I can still open up that box, and think about my 13th birthday party. It was a sleepover party and we did makeovers and had Chinese food. It was a blast. I hope wherever my 13th birthday party attendees are right now, they’re happy and having an amazing life. Even though they’re not part of my life anymore, we still had that childhood together and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s OK that I let them go.

So if you find yourself just like me, returning to your childhood home without any friends left in town, don’t see it as a bad thing (even though your mom will be like, “don’t you have any friends you can call?”). See it as the fact that you’ve grown up, and so has everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with having no childhood friends left, especially if your life is bursting at the seams with so many other wonderful people. And who knows? Life is strange. You may end up being close friends again someday.

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