Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Letting People Go

Your twenties are a weird time, man.

When my friends and I left high school, most of us had been together since kindergarten. I think we all left high school with the intention of maintaining contact and staying up to date with each others lives. I think that every friend group does that. Most of my friends went away to college; I stayed back home at my community college and hoped that I would somehow be able to meet some new people after 13 years of having one group of friends.

Luckily for me, I did. My weird sense of humor landed me an even weirder group of friends that welcomed me as family without question. I have still never felt as accepted and loved as I do with them and I am forever grateful. But 18 year old me made a lot of mistakes along the way that cost me the friendship of those that I had been very close with in high school.

I don’t think that I realized just how much time I was investing in my new friends. I was so excited to be welcomed into a new group that I let my old friends fall to the wayside. I had figured that everyone else was finding new friends too so it never crossed my mind until I realized this past fall that very few of my old friends had any interest in talking to me. I was no longer invited to hangouts or parties. Nobody even told me what I did wrong until a few months ago. Even after apologizing, I could tell that I had seriously offended people without intending to.

I’ve spent the past few months near-obsessing over everything that I did wrong and what I could have done to fix it. I had declined too many invitations to hang out, canceled too many plans. I remember thinking that it wasn’t a big deal because I would make it up to them eventually but I never did. I had forgotten to return that sweatshirt that I borrowed. I hadn’t called that friend back when I said I would.

I feel like I’ve drafted a thousand apology texts since then. I’ve reached out on birthdays and special happenings in their lives. I’ve sat and convinced myself for months that I am an entirely garbage human being that can’t manage to take care or herself and her friends at the same time. It’s been a trip, truly.

But I saw a quote the other day that made me rethink what I was doing to myself mentally.

“Stop chasing people. If they block you, cut off contact, ignore you… Let them go. Let those who naturally gravitate to you enjoy your energy. We spend so much time begging for those who wouldn’t blink twice at the thought of you. Cherish those who are there by choice, and not there because you chased them every time they decided to escape.”

I’m not confident as to who said this or where I initially found it but whoever you are, thank you.

I recognize now that I have not been the best, most reliable friend in the world. But beating myself up for mistakes I made in the past is doing absolutely nothing for me; I’m not learning from it, I’m just making myself miserable.

I’m also starting to realize that, though I could have been a better friend, I wasn’t entirely in the wrong. There were a lot of times that I declined or canceled plans because I was taking care of myself. There were times when I knew that I just wasn’t up to socializing. I know now that you can let your friends know that you can’t give them your time because you need to be alone. That’s okay. I just wish that somebody could have told me up front that what I was doing was bothering them. I feel like I could write a book on things that lack of communication has ruined. Friendships. Relationships. Surprise parties. Suicide Squad.

The universe is in constant flux. The friends that I have today may not be the friends that I have a year from now which is a painful possibility to consider but important to ackowledge. I can’t change the past. You probably can’t either, but I don’t want to assume that because I don’t know you or your potential super powers. But instead of focusing on what I could have done, the best plan of action is to focus on the people I have in my life right now. Learn how to make time for the people that have gravitated towards me and enjoy their energy as well.

I wish nothing but happiness for the people in my past but I want happiness for myself too. I’m earnestly looking forward to the day where I can balance my personal life and an active social life. Until then, here’s to the friends with me at this stage in the game. I cannot thank you all enough for your endless love and support. May we continue to enjoy each other’s energy for many more years to come.





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