The year is 2016–17. Life looks to be ideally on track. You are in the last years of your teenage and entering adulthood or have just entered adulthood. You have many friends- some general, a few close ones and best buddies whom you consider to last till perpetuity. You are enjoying your life alongside your friends, creating beautiful memories along the way, picturising yourself five years down the lane how your friendship will evolve and mature, romanticising your friendship, thinking this friend will always be on your side, planning future road trips, treks and trails together along with a “list of places to visit before I die” with your friends, creating your career action plan and doing a lot more exciting things together.
The period of 5 years flies lightning fast. Fast forward to 2021. You realise that the plans you made together with your friends five years ago never really took off. You recognise that some people who had the privilege of becoming your best buddies are no longer a part of your life. You suddenly realise that the “best friends” with whom you didn’t mind depreciating your throat and spending extravagantly on increasing your mobile tariff speaking hours and hours in the day have now been reduced to just a name on the contact list on your mobile. You realise the once countless chats with your “close friends” have now been reduced to just birthday-birthday greetings or New Year-New Year greetings. The highly anticipated returns from your friendship then start to feel like a sunk investment cost now.
An idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Even when your mind is not idle, notifications from Facebook or Google Photos manipulate your mind to years down the memory lane. You look back, shudder, cringe, curse yourself and regret making them “best/close buddies” of your life. You even laugh at yourself for such naivety. The graph of your friendship with some of your close friends reaches a downward spiral out of control due to many possible reasons such as enduring disagreements, differences of opinion, ugly fights to call it an end of a chapter in your life, constant misunderstandings and lack of interest & ability to reconcile them. Sometimes it just depreciates over time without any fights or arguments.
Later, this transforms into frustration and hatred. You either begin to hate yourself for befriending the person or hate your friend with whom friction has developed after or without any arguments. Instead of “regretting” the “errors” that you feel you committed, you should be grateful to those “close friends” of 2016/2017 who are no more a part of your life or whose names have been reduced to just a contact list in 2021.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once famously said, “Life is a journey and not a destination”. Now let’s imagine you and your “close buddies” have planned a journey from Mumbai to Manali via Delhi. You make a list of “to-do things” along with your friends in this journey. Your journey begins, and you reach Delhi. The journey from Mumbai-Delhi is among the most memorable phases of your life. You feel blessed to be a part of that journey, and thank God for allowing you to be a part of that journey.
However, things start to turn downhill in Delhi. Differences of opinion and frequent arguments leads to friction between friends. It reaches such an extent that some friends decide to part ways in Delhi. All the seven universal emotions are pouring down in your heart all at once. However, you make some new exciting friends along with your remaining existing ones who have continued with you on the journey from Delhi- Manali. You have mixed feelings on the journey from Delhi-Manali. You are happy that you made some fantastic friends who you wished would have entered your life much earlier, while you are sad that you had to part ways with some friends in Delhi. You reach Manali and look back at the journey from Mumbai-Delhi.
Relating this journey with your life, this journey from Mumbai-Delhi is the journey you have had from your childhood till your teenage. Delhi is the last years of your teenage where you start to grow into young adults, you figure out the kind of life you wish to live, you understand things and people better, and you begin to realise that maybe, these friends probably do not fit in my scheme of things because your thoughts do not align with your friends with whom it once aligned in your childhood. You are seeking validation, acceptance and appreciation from them and vice versa.
This is the phase where you grow as a person. The movie “500 Days of Summer” quotes a beautiful line, “Sometimes when people grow, they also grow apart”. It shows how losing friendships can be a sign of growth. Perhaps, change also comes with its cons at a certain cost that you have to pay.
The journey from Delhi-Manali is your adulthood, where you hold grudges against your close buddies with whom you parted ways in your teenage years, or your journey of friendship reached a dead end.
We should all thank those broken friendships, unsaid goodbyes for the lessons they taught us and the guidance that friendship brought you over time. The Earth is round, so the places that may seem dead-end may also be the beginning. The world is a crazy place, and close friends who are no longer a part of your life may reappear again at some later stages of your life in a strange way. Future encounters with them may become unavoidable and necessary due to the prevailing circumstances at that time. It becomes essential not to hold grudges and burn the bridges right away so that future encounters will be smooth sail.
The moments you lived and the memories you created continue to travel in your life journey. Neither can the memories be erased, nor can the moments be relived. The close friends you had in your earlier years had a vital role in making those days of your life memorable and worth remembering, which you now feel are worthless. You had always wished then for them to be a part of your lives forever. You didn’t imagine even in your wildest dreams that as you grow, you’ll grow apart. In 2021, nothing changes the fact that whatever feels like a “mistake” now was a “masterstroke” then.
Be grateful to them for those beautiful memories they gave you, which are still very dear to you before you parted ways. Be thankful for the times you enjoyed in each others company that are still warm in some corner of your heart. Be grateful for those fond memories that make you laugh or light your face with happiness even today when you recollect them. Be thankful for the rich moments of a lifetime in which your friends had a stellar role to play. Recollect those times when these friends were there by your side in some challenging moments of your life, supported you and were your pillar of strength on a decision when the entire world seemed to be against you and thank them for it.
Recollect the times when they gave you hope and strength when you were down and out, and be thankful to them for believing in you when nobody had their hopes pinned on you and had expressed doubts over your talent and abilities before your friendship broke or fell apart. Ask yourself whether you would have felt the same about those friends the way you think about them today when they had an important role to play in your life. It is okay if you do not want to speak with them but hating them or blaming yourself is worthless. The key lies in letting go and not holding on to grudges.
The loss of close friends continues to prickle somewhere. To lose friends suddenly with whom you shared all your secrets until yesterday is a nightmare. But these factors are beyond your control. It is important to treasure those who you have today in your life and won’t leave you instead of feeling dejected over the friends that you lost on the way. If your communication with some friends has reduced over time, it certainly does not mean the end of your friendship. A strong friendship does not require you to talk daily. Even after months of no conversation, nothing changes between friends, even with time.
We see many entries in our lives of different friends with different personalities and attitudes for various reasons. Some pure souls enter the lives that remain tied to us till our very last moments. Such friendships are eternal and last for a lifetime. You stay loyal even when you change cities and even when you don't talk that often anymore. The roots of such friendships are strong enough watered with trust and love, which ultimately leads to the blossoming of fruits and flowers that lead to mutual prosperity. These friendships see all-weather, batter rough storms, stand the test of time, and survive strong because of their deep roots.
Another fundamental reason to be grateful to broken friendships is the critical life lessons they teach you on the way. They help you to identify and distinguish between real and fake friends. They teach you how to improve as a human, being careful in letting new people enter your life and helping you identify the kinds of people and their qualities that attract you to make them your friend. It becomes necessary to identify the purpose of people entering our lives, expectations and boundaries of friendship with them and the scope of growth of friendships after analysing their nature. These crucial lessons would not have been possible to learn without the broken friendships. Therefore, it becomes necessary to acknowledge this and thank them for teaching these essential life lessons.
The world needs more people who are kind and forgiving as it is choked with grudges and hatred. Forgiveness with your friends and with yourself is vital. Having closure by letting things go will lead to immense satisfaction and peace. Not having a formal closure is something beyond your control. When this happens, you will slowly and steadily start to have faith once again if you have lost it and start to trust people if you have stopped it.