I’m sat in my childhood bedroom.
With the four-poster bed I begged for when I was 15, and a wardrobe filled with hidden love letters and hazy polaroids, it’s a museum of my past.
It’s a symbol of love lost, friendships forgotten and unfulfilled plans.
It’s where I plotted a romanticised move to London, and retreated to when it felt like the city didn’t love me back.
It’s where I fell in love with my first boyfriend, and recovered from the subsequent heartbreak.
But, above all, it’s the setting of countless memories with my school friends.
We’d stay on mattresses on the floor until the early hours, bitching about our classmates, stalking boys on MySpace and imagining what our futures would look like.
While plans change, our hopes and dreams always had one consistent: each other.
Here, we grew up together.
But while so many of the memories we shared are still here, they are not.
It’s the classic coming-of-age story. We moved to separate parts of the country for university, and while they stayed together for group trips and birthday get-togethers, I did not. I was so fixated on building my new life that, in the process, I left my old one behind.
Life happened. Time happened. And the end of our friendship somehow, naturally, happened.
As such, I won’t attend any of the weddings I once thought I’d be a bridesmaid at. I’m off the Christmas card list. Unfriended on Facebook and now just another face in an anonymous crowd.
And, weirdly, I’m at peace with that.
Perhaps it’s because I don’t believe in staying friends with anyone for the sake of time or memories alone.
Allow me to explain.
Friendship is terribly important. (I’ve written more about it here). From experience, I know that having several friends, all with their own experiences and interests and traits, is the key to a profound and fulfilling life. When things get tough, you need your people. You need your friends.
But outgrowing certain friendships is inevitable. Painful, but inevitable.
It’s ok to move on. It’s ok to part ways. It’s ok to realise that, actually, that old friend has taken far more than they’ve ever given. It’s ok to think that, no, what they did wasn’t fair. It’s ok to accept that circumstances change and time changes us.
If two friends are meant to be, I believe they’ll one day find their way back.
But not everyone is meant to be with us until the bitter end, and a friendship doesn’t have to be permanent to have a profound effect on your life.
Your memories are still your memories, regardless of whether you’re still in each other’s lives.
Today, my closest friends are those with experiences like mine. People who lost touch or can’t relate to the majority of their school friends.
Your tribe is out there. And, like any wonderful, ever-evolving thing, it will continue to grow for as long as you do.