Inevitably, the day you separate from your best friend will come. When it does, it comes in the form of a kick to the gut. For a moment, you may forget how to breathe because this is the person who you’ve learned to rely on, trust and love and you can’t imagine life without them.
I met my best friend in fifth grade and have perfected the act of latching on to her since eighth grade. She has this wonderful way of reading my mind and knowing what I’m thinking even when I’m incoherent to myself and she is the first person I’d choose to be on my world domination team. She has guts, humor and the perfect degree of salt and for a very long time, I expected her to be by my side always.
When neither of us got into our true dream colleges, we acknowledged the possibility of ending up at the same school and spending another four years together. We planned out our future dorm room, apartment and pet fish. We even decided to invest in succulents. I was excited about leaving home and exploring college life from the very beginning, but knowing she would probably be staying with me made my excitement that much more real.
Then, she visited Carnegie Mellon University.
I texted her while she was there, bitterly hoping she would reply to me with a variety of complaints regarding the campus. I hoped despite my better self that her visit would confirm her negative preconceptions of the school. I wanted so desperately for her to stay by my side.
Her response was simply, “CMU looks like a castle!”
A thousand thoughts went through my head when I read her reply. She had fallen in love, I could tell. But was I happy? Yes, I was extremely happy for her. Yet, I couldn’t help the sinking feeling in my heart that I had lost a very, very important person. A deadly sort of loneliness encased me. The idea of separation suddenly felt so real.
Two weeks later, she asked me to help her decide which college to attend. She wavered between CMU and the University of Texas at Austin and I wavered on whether or not I should be selfish. I chose not to be and supported her in her desire to attend the more expensive school. I urged her to follow her heart despite my own. I wanted only her happiness. Even then, I understood that the cost of keeping her against her will was much too great for my shoulders.
As graduation nears and summer commences, many of you will experience similar separations and thoughts. You will want nothing else than to stay with your “people” for as long as possible. The alternative and the thought of being forgotten will be frightening. When such emotions grip you, my advice to you is this:
1. Always remain true to yourself and your friend.
Do not let your desire to be with those you love overshadow your desire for their happiness. Support them in their endeavors for they will do the same for you. The transition to college is a frightening one for everyone and they will need you by their side to help them bridge the gap. Always ask yourself this – am I doing this for them or for my own benefit? Will my actions cost them their happiness?
2. Spend quality time with your friend before summer escapes.
Surely you and your friend have a bucket list – that three-page long list of empty promises y’all never kept. Go canoeing, bake cookies, learn to fishtail, etc. Enjoy every single month of your last three months. At the same time, involve your friend in your excitement about your future college life. Go dorm room shopping together, comment on each others future roommates, and scout out the best clubs. Getting excited about each other’s new lives is the best way to avoid being salty.
3. Close up loose ties.
Never let things end with a string of regrets and unspoken words. Did y’all have a fight that was never resolved? Do you have a burning curiosity that hinges at the bottom of your lungs? Ask. This may be the last time y’all are truly able to be there for each other. Tell them you love them and how much they mean to you.
4. Develop individuality and foster a life outside of your friend.
Remember that you are your own independent person. Embrace the interests that you and your friend do not share, explore the other friend groups that you may have been neglecting and pick up those alone time hobbies that have been gathering dust. Part of maintaining friendships and connections is being able to live without them.
5. Respect your friend’s decisions and desires; they are not yours to control.
In the end, the hardest thing to do will be wishing your friend the best. Remember that they are making the decision that is best for them and you cannot judge them for it. At this time of wild emotions and untamed thoughts, the only thing you can do is be willing to catch them and prop them up. Love them, care for them, and wish only the best for them, because nothing is worth more than the smile of happiness on their faces as they leave for the college they’ve always dreamed of.
Always remember that regardless of how long a friendship lasts, the marks it leaves on your soul last forever. The end, when it comes, will be tragic, but never forget that both you and your friend are about to walk towards a new world of possibilities. So when you hug them for the last time, tell them how much you love them and wish them the best in all their future days.
Lead Image Credit: Mariano García-Gaspar via Flickr Creative Commons
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