I will never forget one small statement made to me sophomore year, as I sat on the floor of North Gym getting my hair braided by a graduating senior.
She said, “You won’t leave high school with the same people you went into it with.”
I was taken back. What did she mean? My best friends from middle school were still attached to my hip. So far, we had taken on the start of high school together, demonstrated by two years of Spirit Week pictures with the same exact people. I couldn’t foresee that changing. Every moment of the past four years had been spent doing the same things with the same people, like clockwork. They were just a part of my life at this point.
Sophomore year began blazing by. As the months passed I began getting more involved in things I’d never done before: new sports and clubs graced my daily schedule. Suddenly, I found myself asking my mom to drive me to more and more houses outside of our familiar bubble. Conversations filled with joking suspicions that I was “making people up” were clarified with, “yeah, she’s from Salem…she’s in my gym class,” and promises that all these new friends were, in fact, real.
On top of my tendency to talk in class, my love for being social and attending every dance, game, and school event did nothing but serve to grow my amount of friends. While I grew closer to many new people, my social growth forced me to leave behind the familiarity and comfort of my “middle school friend group” and branch out.
When I moved lunch tables midway through sophomore year, the senior’s statement floated back up front and center in my mind. At my fourth lunch table in my high school career, the words are more prevalent than ever. As I make plans with my friends for Prom and other school dances, I realize that I’m not going with a single person I did when I was a freshman.
And that’s okay.
High school is characterized as a terrible time of personal growth and finding who you are before you step into the real world. While the comforts of habit and “it’s always been this way” are nice, to grow, you need to experience new things and people. Sometimes, people you’ve known for a long time no longer serve the same role of support and positive influence in your life that they used to. As people mature they will gain new values, habits, and hobbies. Not everyone will still get along how they used to, and that’s just life. Hindsight gives you the distanced perspective to realize why, although it was heartbreaking at the time, you and your freshman love didn’t make it past a few months, or why you and your best friend don’t talk anymore.
So, Carly- thank you for reminding me that this change is normal. While I’ve always kept good friends by my side, this little statement made it easier to let people go when I realized that they weren’t meant to be in my life or that they weren’t good for me. As a piece of advice to underclassmen from a former freshman: allow yourself to branch out even if that’s not what your current friends are doing. You’ll find more friends out there with the same passions as you and trust me, your future self will thank you.