March 29, 2011

Maybe It's Me: Growing Out, or, We Aren't All Moving in the Same Direction

It isn't surprising as we grow older, mature, and develop a solid sense of self to grow out of certain material items and even behaviors. Who we are today isn't necessarily who we were a year ago - physically we expand and shrink; intellectually we learn and forget; meanwhile, our personalities, emotions, and morals develop, adapt, and evolve according to our own individual life experiences.

To grow out of something is completely normal. We aren't meant to hold on to the things of our youth as we move through life.

Sometimes, as harsh as it sounds, that includes friendships.

Maybe it’s me, but as we grow up, we need to let the idea that growing out of a friendship, or having your friendship being grown out, grow on us.

We aren't all moving in the same direction at the same time. Some of us are moving at an accelerated speed: some of us aren't moving at all. The rhythm of our lives don't always coincide with the people around us despite our best efforts to dig in our heels to slow things down or keep up at a speedy pace we aren't meant to.

But we live in a society that wants so desperately to cling on to the people that have journeyed with us through certain avenues of our lives. They're like living reminders of who we were, where we've been, and what we've gone through. It’s difficult to let friendships like that go no matter how out of place or forced they may feel or be to us in our current lives. They meant so much to us that it’s challenging to accept that they and their friendship are no longer beneficial or compliment who we are, where we are, or what we're doing.

And looking past this moment to the person we will be, where we will be, or what we'll be doing can be exhausting if we're trying to manipulate a sustaining relationship with someone were naturally drifting apart from.

As we move forward as individuals we need to let go of those friendships that are preventing us from coming into our own. Hopefully, if were in tune with ourselves and our immediate surrounding world we'll be able to recognize when it’s time to step away from certain people. After all, friends are supposed to respect, encourage, and embrace you. When your friends lifestyles are stuck on repeat doing the same things over and over, while you're expanding your horizons, maybe it’s time to accept the fact that you and them just have nothing in common any more. When they berate you for your “boring” or “adult” choices, it’s time to purge yourself of these folks. There should be no shame in wanting something more from your Friday night - or, from your life for that matter - then drinking and hanging out at the same bar with the same people.

After all, at some point we all have to come to the realization that we're not the carefree twenty-one year olds we once were. We’re growing up. We've got more responsibilities and bigger wants from life than just a good buzz (at least we should, anyway). If anything we should be embarrassed as late twenty-something’s when we habitually act immature or are content in our uninspiring, cyclical ruts while our friends get "big boy" jobs, "big girl" apartments, or enrich their lives in positive way.

In the same breath, though, we need to not feel bitter or left behind when our friends advance on from us - which some undoubtedly will. While we'll move on, we'll also be moved on from. After all, we may not be ready for what they're ready for.

There have been several things friends have gone on to do that I knew I – at the time - was just not emotionally equipped to handle yet, like marriage or purchasing a home. And not so selfishly, if I’m not ready for something like that, than I shouldn’t have to do it. I get to make my own decisions about my life and the living of it; I refuse to be influenced in such big affairs by the people around me. I shouldn’t feel like I have to be carried away in the same current everyone else seems to be swept up in. And if that dissolves a friendship, then so be it. But I certainly don’t need to maintain relationships with people who I have nothing in common with.

And again, that goes both ways. I don’t expect certain friends to continue on with me in this part of my life’s adventure. The best I can hope for is that they won’t let this natural deteriorating bond negatively affect how they view the relationship we once had. I certainly think as fondly as possible on past friendships for what they meant to me then, and more importantly, how they got me to where I am now.

Surrounding ourselves with people we're in sync with helps us to continue to find ourselves and appreciate the life we’re living now. Friendships that happen organically, especially the older we get, the more we can identify with others, and the less consumed we are with our own points of view are healthy. They rejuvenate and stimulate us to keep striving for more; as opposed to those ailing, lingering relationships that stifle us creatively, physically, and emotionally.

We don’t need that.

We deserve to be surrounded by the best-for-us people as possible.

To grow out of something is completely normal. We aren't meant to hold on to the things of our youth as we move through life. And we have to start practicing that. It’s all a part of growing up. After all, if you’re not sleeping your childhood bed, if you’re no longer wearing the jeans you wore in high school, if you no longer believe in your own naïve views on how to fix the world that you held when you were an immortal twenty-something’s, then why are you still clinging on to friendships that you’ve grown out of as well?