Keep up the friendship!
This is a phrase I hear from my mother far more often than I’d prefer. Every time she says it, she’s referring to one specific person, one friend of mine. The reason for her speaking it is because our friendship has existed since middle school. So why would I give up on it, after all this time?
In middle school, I’ll admit I was a loner. I did pretty much everything by myself. I didn’t really mind then, and when I think back to it now, I still don’t have regrets. In some ways, it’s good I was so independent because I avoided a lot of drama that stems from cliques, as well as dodging any chance of getting into “bad” situations or things. But this particular girl was one who seemed to befriend everyone. She had a habit of taking kids under her wing who didn’t quite fit in with everyone else, and making them feel like they belonged.
She would often invite me to sit at her lunch table or to walk to town to the local hangouts. And I always obliged. But every single time I was with her, I didn’t feel myself. There was always a part of me that felt I should act a certain way, should say (or not say) certain things. I felt fake and like I was putting on an act whenever I was around her. And the same goes for her herself: I sensed she was just humoring me and acting phony-interested a lot of the time. She felt bad I was alone, and I should’ve felt grateful she talked to me. Most of the time though I just felt like a charity case. Which I hate.
It became the basis of our friendship: she’d do something nice for me and I’d continue to hang out with her because, well, I couldn’t just walk away and leave, right? When she’d done so many thoughtful things for me, to include me in as much as possible? When I quite literally had no one else? But that isn’t friendship. Friends should be friends because they have stuff in common, because they feel truly comfortable with one another, because they have a genuine bond. Not because they feel as though they “should be” friends.
I learned this when I finally graduated high school and entered into college. The friends I cherish the fondest are ones I met throughout college, and the relationships I gained made me realize how artificial the ones I had before were. In addition to new environments, our personalities at this time were becoming more concrete. We figured out who we were and our places in the world, what works for us and what doesn’t.
I didn’t mesh with this girl, and it was the absolute truth this time. We hold totally different goals and attitudes, interests and views. I can tell she has no real interest in the events of my life I share; she acts supercilious and condescending to many people, myself no exception. There’s no real reason to keep up with one another, except due to a ridiculous obligation and not wanting to “throw it away”.
Now I know it wouldn’t be throwing anything away. It would simply be moving on. Yes, we had fun times and memories. It’s not a matter of being mean or not caring. If I feel she (or anyone for that matter) just isn’t a good fit for me anymore, I have a right to let it go. Not to be ungrateful or selfish. I think if anything it makes me more mature, to be able to recognize and clarify this is what I look for and deserve in any relationship. To be able to say no, I don’t want to keep up with it. And have that be the end of it.