"We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy change if we, changing, continue to love a changed person." William Somerset Maugham
The quality I most appreciate in a good friend is understanding. Understanding that who we are, as friends, as people, is an ever evolving process of our lives and of our friendship. I've always felt that, as I've grown older, the friends that made it easiest were the ones who wouldn't chastise me for going months without a phone call. The ones who understand that I am as busy as they are. That friendship works both ways.
I really love my friends. Without them, a vital part of my happiness would be lost. As I've said before, there are many different levels of friendship. What I haven't said is this: of all of the different levels of friendship, there is one thing I always expect. It is very basic to a functional friendship. I will rejoice in your successes as you rejoice in mine. And judgment has no place.
I have made many friends in my adventures through life. I met my best friend when we were 3, and regardless of how much we have changed (and lord, have we changed), I know she will be with me forever. I still have friends from elementary school. I see my friends from high school every chance I get. And I go visit my college friends when I get a weekend of non-crazy (which has been slim, lately). I have friends post-college.
My wedding invite list is out of this world.
But to all of these friends, I am a different person now than I was when I met them. If I wasn't, we'd all be a little worried.
When I was 3, I wasn't a real person--so, I've grown up with Emily and experienced every change with her. I'm sure that I am not the same as I was in elementary school, singing Phantom of the Opera on the playground or trading POGS. And I know for certain that I changed immensely through high school and college. I learned how to put on makeup and pick out clothes that didn't make me look like a little boy. I learned how to handle responsibility and how to make smart decisions about every area of my life. I learned who I was. And I've changed since then.
All of my friends have changed. And their changes are entertaining and mature and beautiful. Its when my friends stop changing that it worries me. If you're not changing, don't you feel like you have nothing to bring to the table?
Some friends change and then quietly make an exit out of your life. This is not to say that they are not your "friend," but that they've moved into another category of your life. And this, as in all stages of life, is fine.
I've never understood, however, an abrupt realization that a friend has changed--they've changed and you just don't know them anymore and the friendship is forever altered. This abruptness, to me, is ignorance. You haven't been paying attention to the process. In reality, you have probably changed just as much.
Change is necessary. At least, in my opinion. If we weren't constantly changing, we would be stuck. We would stop learning about ourselves and about our world. We would stop thinking, rationalizing, considering. Stagnant.
I understand that people want stability in their lives. Stability does not have to mean stuck. You can acquire financial stability, stability within your home, stability within your state of mind. Stability can be a soothing, necessary element of life. But there are so many things outside of stability that necessitate happiness.
We all make fun of the old ladies who dress the same way they did in their great decade. Don't deny it. We all do it. Or the old men who are stuck in a trend intended for the cool guys 30 years ago. It's funny. But it's also sad. Because these people made up their mind years ago who they were going to be, what they were going to eat, who they were going to socialize with, and what they were going to wear. And they haven't looked beyond that.
If I still dressed the way I did in elementary school or high school, you'd think I didn't care about my appearance. I'd wear a Starter jacket and a Hornet's t-shirt with shorts too big. And if I dressed the way I dressed in college, you'd think I was cheap. Because I was. I wore whatever the softball team supplied--sweats, t-shirts, a warmup, shorts. And now I can dress however I want to.
I agree that clothing is a weak example. Dress in whatever makes you feel comfortable. But, if I'm your friend, and you're still wearing the same sweater from high school, I'm going to encourage you to let go. Move on. Try something new.
A major component of change is how we think. If we stop considering things from different point of views, how will we ever move on? How can you hate or love something for an entire lifetime?
My parents always baffle me. They met in high school and began dating when they were sophomores. They got married at 22, had me at 23, and didn't stop having kids for 12 years. For a long time, their relationship was in survival mode. Don't screw any of the kids up, remember to pay the bills, work to pay the bills, and get everyone where they need to go. Five kids later, their relationship has evolved. And it keeps changing. When I was in college, I got to experience this rekindling of a relationship I never knew growing up. They became friends again after they got rid of most of us. They had to get to know each other again. They go on bike rides together.
New is hard. Change can be hard. But change is also fun and refreshing.
In the past, change has caused me much anxiety. I cried every day in 1st and 2nd grade when my parents switched me to a new school. And before my first try out for middle school softball, I called my mom crying and she picked me up and drove me down to the softball field (on campus) and pushed me out of the car. Somehow, change began to grow on me.
I didn't go to college with any of my high school friends. Most of my friends went with at least one other person that they knew. I did not. I still can't explain why or how I did this. Or how I never even thought about the fact that I would be a new kid on campus with no friends. But I did it, and I made friends, and I allowed myself to accept the changes in my life. As uncomfortable as they were.
I went to a new school to play my last year of softball eligibility. The only person I knew on campus was my sister, who was a freshman. She was doing all these new-college things that I had already done. I was in grad school. And I lived alone. That's the biggest accomplishment to me. That I did that. That I stepped outside of my comfort zone and allowed EVERYTHING about my life to change. And it was rewarding in ways that I can't explain.
And Matt. I always have to include Matt. You can ask him if you want, but the changes he's experienced with me are hilarious. I went from this little girl with a huge shield around my emotions to a person who asks to be hugged and kissed. Matt has been an amazing catalyst of change.
So, I like change. I've said it before in different words. Evolve. Keep growing. Keep finding new things that make you happy and be willing to move away from the things that don't. Even if it is uncomfortable.
I know I'm different now than when you first met me. I listen to different music, I eat differently, I dress differently, I may talk about different things. But aren't you glad? It's like getting to meet me all over again.