Old friends, new stories

[Originally posted on April 17, 2016 on my website. Copying it over onto this one for archiving.]

We meet all sorts of people at different times of our lives. There are those we meet at school, university, work or randomly (maybe through friends of friends?); whom we never speak to again after graduation or moving onto a new role/job.

But then there are those couple of people who manage to stick it out through years, maybe even decades of friendship. These guys are the ones we share endless amounts of inside jokes, memories and experiences with. They’re probably the same people you’ve had fights and disagreements with, but managed to come out on the other side with an even stronger friendship.

I am lucky.

I am fortunate enough to have a couple of ‘these guys’ in my life.

. . .

I am a firm believer that the depth of friendship cannot be quantified or validated by the number of years you’ve known someone, but through the journey and experiences you’ve shared with someone.

Childhood

The period of time wherein playtime was as good as it gets.

The bond you had which urged you to pick your best friend when ‘picking teams/sides’.

The time where you’d go over each other’s houses to play some more – because playing at school was insufficient.

The phase in our lives where our fights were so petty that it happened so often, that we can’t even remember what any of them were about; and somehow we were all best friends again the following day.

It’s the level of friendship likely to end the minute one of you moves schools.

. . .

Teenage years

The formative, adolescent years. The friends we make are often those whom we share some commonality with in terms of schooling – classes, sport, bus/train rides. And maybe, if you’re lucky, some from your childhood make it to this part of your life.

These are the years where play time turned into ‘going out’ – that is, being courageous enough to ask permission from our parents to go to our local shopping centre. If you’re really brave, you might even be allowed to go to the movies with your friends or even go to the city (without parental supervision, of course)!

The high school years wherein drama and crushes/puppy love consumed our energies. These are the years we spent moping, venting and reading into every single situation with our friends.

The phase in our lives where our fights could be so ‘big’ that it would drive a wedge between us – it almost seems like the phase that could make or break a friendship really.

For those lucky enough to have a childhood friend ‘level up’ to this part of their life, these are the years where ‘best friends’ tend to mean a lot more. It meant making the extra effort to see each other because you didn’t go to the same school – if it meant catching the same train or meeting up in the library, that was how you stayed in touch.

The stories and experiences we take from this phase in our lives are the inside jokes, the ‘heartaches’, the memories from school, and for those friends we make in high school, it’s at least 6 years’ (in Australia) worth of happy moments, conflicts and random ‘crap’ we take with us as we move on.

Graduating from high school – the day tears are shed, with the fear of never seeing our (best) friends again. How does one live without them?

. . .

Adulting’ – Transition to the adult world

We go from seeing our best and closest friends everyday at school or have regular catchups, to the years of our lives where your university timetables don’t align with theirs and full time work kicks in. The years wherein you either make an extra effort to see your friends or sever all ties from them – may it be for reasons like you never liked them in the first place, or perhaps you guys just grew apart.

This is the phase in our life wherein ‘our’ stories become your stories and my stories. From creating memories and sharing experiences with each other, we move to being the 3rd party to these memories and experiences. It is by no means a reason to drift apart, but definitely a shift in our lives, something we learn to adjust to. The stories go from ‘remember when we…’ to ‘do you know what happened to me and…’.

The transition into the adult world’s an interesting one because everyone moves through life at different speeds. The way we act, our priorities, and our level of maturity are not dictated upon by our age. Yes, there are social norms we all strive to abide by or even live up to, but we can’t. The pace at which we move at is different to our friends’, no matter how close or similar you guys are. Conflict, disagreements and disappointments arise because we end up finding ourselves in others. We expect our friends to act a certain way. We find fault in them when they don’t align their goals and priorities with yours.

It’s a bittersweet feeling really. We may no longer get to do everything together but we do have the pleasure of witnessing growth and maturity amongst our childhood and high school friends, as we move through the different phases of our lives. We go from sulking about how much we miss ‘the good old days’, to finding absolute joy in listening to our friends’ new adventures and find pride in their accomplishments.

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