There are so many articles on the Internet these days about how amazing it is to have best girlfriends. There’s an article for pretty much any friend you could ever imagine: high school friends, college friends, sorority sisters, coworkers, you name it. I’ve had some pretty amazing friends in my life so I read these articles and remember all of the good times that we had. However, there are so few articles written about letting those friendships go.
My mother always told me that my friend groups would change as I grew up; I would trade in old friends for new friends in college, when I got my first job, when I got married, and when I had children. However, I was never one to always listen to dear old mom.
Growing up, I had just about the best group of friends anyone could dream up. In fact, when I first saw the movie Now and Then when I was 14, it reminded me of our bond so much that I immediately booked a photo shoot so our group of teenage friends would be stamped in a photograph forever. Most of us had been friends since early grade school and we had been there for each other through so much. We genuinely cared about one another and I couldn’t imagine living without them by my side. So when I left for college and most of my best friends moved to universities hours away, I was unprepared for how lonely I would feel.
To fight back my loneliness, I decided to join a sorority. Unlike most universities, our recruitment happened a few weeks after school started so that girls like me could decide if they wanted to rush. I got into an amazing sorority and immediately set out to make friends just like my old ones. I already knew the kind of girls I got along with, so why would I even bother making friends with girls with different personalities? This was the beginning of my demise. I was so determined to find a match for my old best friends, that I was blind to making new best friends.
All four years of college I inserted myself into a group in my sorority, became really good friends with the girls, decided that maybe there was a better group out there that would be more similar to my old friends, and ditched that group to join a new one. Needless to say, instead of making those everlasting bonds with my sorority sisters, I lost almost every one of them. I found myself back in that lonely boat I was in before. To make matters worse, I would call my old best friends just to find that they had all found new best friends and were having the time of their lives.
After I graduated from college, I decided to move to the city. I figured there had to be plenty of opportunities for new friends in a major metropolitan area. In fact, I even found some old acquaintances from my small hometown that I began to bond with. However, I still found myself unsure if these friendships were going to be equally as good as my original friendships. I started to turn my back on my new friends again and fell into a deep depression. How was I ever going to find happiness again? My old friends had moved on, so it was pointless for me to push myself into their new lives.
I was sitting in my apartment alone when I glanced over at my bookshelf. Sitting in the middle of the shelf was that old photograph of my friends and I at the age of 14. My eyes filled up with tears thinking of those old memories and how happy I had been. But we weren’t those girls anymore. Like the photo, I knew that it was time to put my old friendships on a (very special) shelf. I didn’t need to be carrying them with me like a photo in my pocket that I took out to show everyone I met. I needed to let go, just as they had, and find a new path. So I let those tears fall out of my eyes, took a deep breath, and called a new friend I had made in the city. We began to hang out all the time and before I knew it I had finally made a new best friend.
The path hasn’t been easy, but I finally unclipped my wings and flew. I still talk to those old high school friends and we get together for weddings and such, but now I can tell them all about my new friends and the new memories I have made. I’ve found myself finally not calling or texting my old friends when something major happens, but relying on my new friends. I still get scared sometimes and it makes me sad that one day soon I might not even have a sliver of friendship left with those girls, but that’s ok. I still have that picture on a shelf that will always remind me of the amazing friends that helped me grow into the woman I am today.
Kerri Essner is a millennial living it up in St. Louis. She is currently trying to find her dream job in the Lou, but when she’s not job-hunting she can be found binge-watching Netflix and obsessing over her Scottish Terrier, Scottie.