A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about the things I learned during my freshman year of college. What I did not include was something I recently discovered: people change. Friends from high school do not stay the same after going to college, and this fact comes with mixed feelings for everyone.
I have many long-distance friends, who I haven't seen in years, but those friends never seemed to change while we were still in high school. College change is a different type of change.
People change in ways that you could never imagine. They act different, use different vocabulary, and often aren't good friends you can confide in any longer. Some go out partying every day and start using drugs and alcohol to cope with issues, some hang out with a new crowd that have values that you do not agree with and that your friend previously did not agree with, and some are stuck in a high school mentality and remain immature.
I've seen many articles about college kids going home for the summer and feeling out of place because everyone at home has changed. This is a sad realization to come to. It's hard to accept that you yourself have grown up and cannot relate to old friends the way you used to.
This is especially prevalent if you went away to college and lived on your own, and your friends back home did not. You matured in ways they did not get to. It's hard to relate to people who are not as independent as you are, and who don't know what freedom tastes like. Something I noticed from my experience is that when friends stay home, they change due to the friends they made at school, but that in a way, they remain static, because they did not have to face any major life changes, like living on their own.
Some friends find a group of friends who have nothing in common with you, and that can easily make you feel replaced and out of place when you see them again. Some friends do childish things all the time and you're forced to stay home because you don't want to participate. It's difficult to watch all of this unfold and it's heartbreaking to realize that the person you left a year ago is not the same person you are talking to in the present.
Environmental factors shape personalities like you could never imagine. You have to realize that the only reason you had some friendships was because you saw the people all the time and could relate to what they were going through. Once everyone goes off on their own path, you cannot expect them to be the same as they were when you shared a common road.
I think this was one of the hardest things I have ever had to come to terms with, but it was necessary. I needed to realize this one way or another.
The world turns every second and people change as fast as it revolves. The only thing any of us can do is try to maintain the friendships we can salvage while realizing that our growth may be stunted by some that need to be let go. Change does not have to be bad; we all must change with experience, but I have learned that there are some friends you can grow with and there are some friends you outgrow.