It’s OK to leave high school friends behind

In highschool, nobody — not my buddies, my academics nor my household — thought I’d attend faculty wherever close to my hometown of Memphis, Tenn. I had at all times talked about how I needed to “get away” from the city I grew up in — one which at all times felt so small regardless of its metro space exceeding 1 million folks. Through the faculty software course of, the closest faculty I utilized to was seven hours away. After which I ended up on the College, which is 11 hours away from Memphis by automotive and a spot only a few college students from my highschool ever attended.

Because of this, I didn’t come to U.Va. with shut buddies, however I liked it that method. Not solely did I get to shed among the identification I had developed in highschool — one which was formed largely by an excessive dedication to lecturers — however I received to develop new friendships, many with the women dwelling in my dorm and people I labored with on The Cavalier Every day. 

As these relationships started to type, I noticed that there was one thing most of my friendships from house lacked — reciprocation. For the final two years, I had change into a third-wheel pal with out even realizing it. I discovered myself confused by inside jokes my buddies would reference, typically discovered about plans to hang around after they’d occurred and solely really hung out with folks if I initiated the get collectively. 

But, I held on to those folks — whom I nonetheless thought-about my greatest buddies — as a result of I didn’t know any higher. 

All through center faculty and the primary two years of highschool, we had match collectively like items of a puzzle, every giving one another energy the place the opposite had a weak point. However by the point senior yr got here, we had modified. I had stopped enjoying soccer and devoted myself to the newspaper and theater whereas they joined the cross nation staff, took artwork lessons and partied earlier than I used to be snug doing so. We had been turning into totally different folks, but I clung to the picture I had of us in center faculty — of the chums with bizarre nicknames for one another who would fairly sleep on the ground of somebody’s lounge than on beds in separate rooms. 

This warped my thought of what friendship was. For that point, I assumed that being buddies with folks meant having to plan hangouts, performing just like the “mother” of the group by being the designated driver and being OK with solely seeing some folks throughout faculty. 

This isn’t to say that the chums I had by no means supported me. In actual fact, they had been there for lots of ups and downs these first years — from my dad and mom’ divorce and my mother’s and my automotive wreck to my soccer staff’s state semifinal look and my election as literary journal editor-in-chief. Issues simply modified, and it took me till my first yr of faculty to comprehend it. 

My first semester, I made buddies who would cease by my dorm room simply to say hello, who commonly requested me to get dinner at O’Hill, who supported me when my grandfather handed away my first month on Grounds and who willingly spent fall break performing like a vacationer with me in Washington, D.C. They had been individuals who invested their time in sustaining our relationship and knew that being an important pal meant giving me as a lot love and devotion as I gave them. 

Whereas this had an extremely optimistic affect on my progress, particularly as I gained quite a lot of self-confidence, it made going house exhausting.

Though I used to be solely house for just a few days throughout Thanksgiving first yr — time I primarily spent with household as a result of the break was so brief — Christmas break my first yr was difficult. Rising up, I had at all times seen pictures and movies of buddies from highschool getting back from their first semester in school as shut as ever, so it was exhausting to steadiness this dream with my first-semester realization. I used to be scared that spending an excessive amount of time with that group might — as soon as once more — make me settle for lower than I deserved from the folks I known as buddies. 

Resultantly, I spent my break calling my buddies from the College day by day and hanging out with my household, solely actually getting espresso with a pair highschool buddies — most who weren’t from that group of buddies I’d had since center faculty. Truthfully, there have been instances when that break was lonely — once I was bored with being in my home and simply needed to do one thing — however that solely made the time I spent with buddies that rather more significant. Not solely had been our conversations about what extracurriculars we joined and buddies we made, however they touched on how we had been coping when it comes to our psychological well being and the way we handled the transition from a graduating class of 100 college students to one in every of 1000’s. 

This grew to become the way in which I spent my restricted time at house in the course of the summer time after which as soon as once more throughout Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks second yr. 

Truthfully, I don’t know if I remorse making that selection. After all, there’s an opportunity we might have discovered new methods to help each other regardless of having modified in faculty, and 20 years down the road, I could also be unhappy that I can’t introduce that group as my “greatest buddies since highschool.” However figuring out what letting them go has given me — the arrogance to count on extra for myself and my relationships — will at all times be a superb factor in my thoughts.

So to these at house throughout this quarantine, questioning the best way to work together with the hometown buddies you left behind while you got here to the College, know that it’s not your obligation to keep up these relationships. It doesn’t imply that you just don’t cherish the moments you spent collectively or that you just don’t love them nonetheless — it simply implies that you’ve discovered to depart behind the puzzle items that don’t suit your life’s image anymore.

Carolyn Lane is an Assistant Managing Editor at The Cavalier Every day. She could be reached at

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