On a breezy Southern California afternoon I picked up my best friend from the airport. We had not seen each other since my college graduation five months before. Prior to his arrival I counted down the days and planned out everything we would do together. Although I was overwhelmed adjusting to my first “real” job as a newspaper reporter in a state I had never even visited before, I anticipated his arrival with a lot of excitement.
I looked forward to spending time with someone who had known me for the better part of ten years, someone who I felt I could let my guard down with. That afternoon we rode bikes around San Diego, caught up on our lives over lunch and even contemplated getting tattoos. It was perfect.
Five days later, I woke up excited. It was Sunday and we had plans to have brunch with some of my co-workers. I walked down the stairs and found the sofa that he had been sleeping on empty. I looked all over the house anxiously and found not a trace of him. Until I went back to the living room and found four pieces of paper sitting limply on the floor.
In the letter he detailed all the reasons why he felt that our friendship needed to end. I was devastated and angry. I texted him to ask if he was OK. His reply said, “I don’t want to talk to you anymore and I don’t know if I ever will.”
I can’t say that I had not noticed tension brewing between us but I really thought it was something we would get to talk about. Maybe we were both exhausted and tired. Maybe we did not want to tell the truth because we knew it would hurt. I’ll probably never know the moment in which the person I considered a brother felt like he could not talk to me.
Many months have passed since that day and we still haven’t spoken. Still, there are some major lessons I have learned from the experience.
People change, and that’s OK
Sometimes that means growing apart. My friend and I met when we were freshmen in high school, and by the time we graduated college we were living in different states and had experiences that changed our perspectives. Although we had survived so many things, there came a point where our friendship didn’t make sense anymore. It is not what I wanted but it is what happened, and part of life is respecting other people’s decisions even when you disagree with them.
There is no perfect friendship
I always thought that my best friend and I had a “perfect” friendship. We had countless inside jokes, we had met each other’s families and kept in touch no matter how far away from each other we were. The end of our friendship taught me that no matter how good something is, it does not mean that it is perfect. We all have something we need to work on.
Wallowing in bad experiences will not help you get over them
After my best friend broke up with me, I relived every moment during his visit that had made me angry. I was under a lot of stress adjusting to my new job and thought of all the things I did to make him comfortable in my home even though I just wanted to come home and just watch something on Netflix. I felt like he had been rude and unappreciative. But after talking to my grandma about the situation, I realized that the best thing I could do for myself was to let go of the anger and move on. You have to feel your feelings, but at a certain point, nursing a grudge prevents you from moving on.
The process of getting to know someone is never-ending
After knowing my best friend for 10 years, I realized that I was still getting to know him. I thought I knew exactly what made him happy and how he would communicate his discontent with me. When he abruptly left my house, I learned that there were parts of his personality that I did not fully know. I also learned that there were parts of my personality that he did not understand. Getting to know someone, even your best friend, is a journey not a destination.
It’s not his fault, it’s not my fault, and it’s OK
When conflict happens one of our reactions is to place blame either on ourselves or someone else. I won’t lie, my immediate reaction was to blame my friend for what happened. Then I realized that our friendship had been rocky for at least a few years. There were probably things we both could have done better that in the moment we did not consider in the moment. Instead of placing blame, I accepted the fact our friendship ended because it had to. It’s sad, but I learned from it, and now I’m moving on.
Paulina Rojas is a journalist currently living in Southern California. Brunch is her favorite meal. When she isn’t reporting you can find her binge watching beauty tutorials on YouTube. Someday she hopes to publish a memoir.
[Image via MTV]