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Column: Navigating the end of a friendship

Photo by Anaiah Davis

Before coming to Bradley, I’d dreamed about having a college dorming experience akin to the stories I’d seen on TV and testimonies I’d heard from my teachers in high school. I wanted a roommate that would become a dear friend, someone I would be able to confide in and make memories with now and after graduation. I imagined my roommate and I staying up late, dishing out relationship advice and cultivating a lifelong friendship.

For a while, I had that and I absolutely loved it. I was comforted by the effortless bonding and never-ending conversation that took place between us during the first months that we lived together.

But somewhere along the way, things changed.

When the underlying tension and the words left unsaid got the better of us both last semester, she decided to move out. I can laugh and joke about it now, but the truth is I was incredibly pained by the situation. I knew that this year, our second as roommates, would likely be the end of us living together. Yet, receiving that text message over winter break, returning to a half-empty room and knowing in my heart that we’d probably never speak again were hard pills to swallow.

I’ve tried my best to think of the exact moment I felt a shift in our friendship – a particularly awkward silence, a passive-aggressive text or perhaps an overly polite “Have a good day” delivered as one of us rushed off to class. I searched for wrongdoing in both of our actions and, in the end, I’m not sure either of us is entirely to blame.

I’ve dealt with a series of emotions about everything that happened between us. At first, I felt guilty, wondering if there was more I could’ve done to salvage the friendship. Later, I remembered that nothing is ever one-sided, and I was hurt by her unwillingness to resolve whatever issues were floating beneath the surface. More than anything, I was devastated because I knew then that a lifelong friendship was pretty much out of the question.

The older I get, the more I realize how much effort it takes to keep important connections alive. Friendships depend on equal levels of communication, understanding, honesty and a willingness to address conflict, especially when the person sleeps across the room from you. As I’ve learned from my recent experience, sometimes you can have the best intentions to execute those requirements and you still grow apart from the people you care about.

In more ways than one, my roommate and I grew apart and a lack of communication caused the chasm between us to stretch seemingly beyond repair. I still wish the best for her, especially if she reads this someday, but a part of me is always going to wonder what could have been.

A quote I’ve encountered a lot recently is “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” We all know this is true, but that doesn’t mean that it hurts any less when your season with someone ends.

The important thing to remember is that outgrowing people and friendships is normal and sometimes inevitable. When connections fade into walking in the opposite direction when you see that old friend on campus or swiftly unfollowing them on social media to avoid their status updates, know that it’s okay to miss them and to be hurt, but also to let go. You’ll always have the memories – unless you really want to forget. And if you don’t already have them, the friends that are going to be with you for a lifetime are out there waiting for you.

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