Weathering Seasonal Friendships
Written by: Charneise Alston, M.Ed
I dare to say that the majority of friendships accumulated throughout one’s lifetime are seasonal. Does that sound absurd? If not, then I was completely unprepared for this life lesson. In a world filled with billions of people, it is very comforting when you meet someone and there is a spark that later ignites a mutual bond of affection. Although one can exist without friends, most of us flourish from the company of true friends.
Have you ever examined your friendships and asked why certain people are in your life? During my elementary years, my friendships were founded on very weak but endearing mutual interests. Do you like to jump rope? So do I, let’s be friends. Do you like to go bike riding? So do I, let’s be friends. What’s your favorite color? Wow, that’s my favorite color too. So of course, most of those adorable friendships fizzled out as life continued.
Throughout my adolescent years, I developed a more sophisticated vetting process. I began to consider personality qualities, motives, and overall compatibility. I am proud to say that the majority of my current friendships come from this era in my life. But as you mature into adulthood, why do so many friendships end?
I have definitely placed unrealistic expectations on past friendships, I can admit that fault. I genuinely thought that every significant friendship would remain throughout my lifetime. My friendships did not have to maintain frequent interactions but I surely expected sustainability. Needless to say, as seasons changed I surrendered to the reality that all friendships are not forever.
Since all friendships do not last, honor the space and time in which it existed. Just because a past friendship no longer serves you or has run its course does not mean that it was not real. As trite as it may be, don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. We sometimes tend to discount the value of a past relationship or taint its beauty because it simply ended. Making a statement like, “Oh well, it was their loss” is unfair and not always true. When people exit your life, allow it to happen and wish them well. The amount of energy one must give to preserve a dying relationship is extremely taxing. For your own benefit, let it go.
The ramifications of an ended friendship can be painful, but not always. More than anything, you’re left with unanswered questions. I am absolutely guilty of either blaming the other person for leaving or not understanding how I possibly drove a person away. What did I do to cause the friendship to end? Well, there are many reasons as to why a friendship ends.
Distance is a common contributor to an ending relationship. Keep in mind that distance can manifest in a physical and/or emotional context. When the environment changes, so do some friendships. Under the condition of coexisting in a shared environment like school, work, the gym, church, and group organizations, friendships are often formed. However, when a person is no longer affiliated with that shared environment, the distance can surely affect the bond. If that happens, try not to take it personal. Sometimes we simply lose touch and become inundated with our daily demands. Over time, people can grow apart and unfortunately disconnect. Even with technological advances like social media and video calls, long-distance friendships are hard to maintain.
After years of self-reflection, the reason why many of my past friendships ended was because of changing lifestyles. In adulthood, my friendships become more centered on shared values. Despite the fact that my closest friends have different personalities, interests, and communication styles, we essentially share the same morals, ethics, and beliefs. The direction of your life may cause you to lose certain people along the way. Throughout life’s journey visions change, purpose surface, and self-evolution sometimes demand for isolation and a change in direction. Since I know that certain levels in life require sacrifice, I can not afford to dive into deep waters with those who refuse to get wet.
It is important to be aware of what you allow and tolerate in your sacred space. I am a naturally accommodating person, so remaining in certain friendships would be to the detriment of my dreams and goals. At what cost are you willing to keep certain people in your life?
In today’s culture, we often celebrate our “Day One” friends. Those are the friends who have witnessed countless birthdays, holidays, and memorable life events over a long stretch of time. Yet, I am more interested in the quality of friendships rather than how long we’ve known each other. In certain instances, relationships can be toxic and one should not feel bound to remain in unfulfilled affiliations. With that being said, sometimes you have to be the one who leaves a friendship and by all means do so if it no longer serves your betterment.
The older I become, the lower tolerance I have for stress and drama. I choose to vibrate on a higher frequency so I have learned to let go of certain attachments without hesitation. It is almost scary how content I am with accepting people’s exit from my life. Simply because I believe that anyone who is tied to your destiny will not voluntarily walk out of your life.
Friendships provide joy, comfort, a sense of belonging, support, occasional conflict, and forgiveness. Most true friendships are able to make amends from misunderstandings or temporary fall-outs. Long-term friendships are resilient. However, seasonal friendships have an expiration date and that is okay. There is a reason for every bond we develop with others. So as I close, I want to leave you with this thought. If all relationships provide an education, even the seasonal ones, are you willing to seek out the lesson once a friendship ends?
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“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart”