Are you wondering why you outgrow friends? How old friendships aren't working out or feeling disappointed your childhood best friend just isn't the same person you thought they were? In this blog post, hear a licensed teen therapist share her reasons why it's okay to outgrow friends.
Growing, adapting, and changing is a normal process in life. However, sometimes our friends aren’t growing with us. Especially older teenagers and young adults who go off to college and notice their high school friends aren’t on the same page as they are. Or you notice that your childhood best friend just isn’t connecting with you like they use too. Making the transition from high school to college is a monumental step and an incredibly big adjustment.
During that adjustment, an older teenager is practically forced to adapt to their surroundings, establish a new friend group, build a new routine, and figure out who they are outside of their family unit. It can be a very challenging and an anxious journey for most young adults.
Typically, the young adult will come home during a holiday break or upon completion from college to realize childhood and high school social connections and friendships are not matching where they are currently in life. The realization can bring upon anger, disappointment, and especially grief and loss. At times, young adults might internalize and look at ourselves thinking, “what did I do wrong?” or they might get disappointed expecting their friend to be someone they use to be. And then, grief and loss creep in when you become aware that your childhood or high school friends don’t fit in the present picture nor future outlook. That creates a lot of emotions in a young adult, especially if they are going back and forth visiting with family or coming home from college figuring out how to set up their adult working life.
Some helpful reminders why it's okay to outgrow friends:
1. It’s important to REMIND yourself that you are still a good friend.
It feels sad and confusing when you outgrow friends or an old friendship drifts apart or having to make the decision to back away because you and the other person don’t have the same values anymore. Just because you decide to back away from a friendship or allow a friendship to drift apart does not mean you aren’t a loyal person. You have great qualities to offer in a friendship. You and that old friend might not be on the same path or have the same values doesn’t mean you can’t have meaningful and deep relationships with the current friendships you have right now.
2. Understand that it is a normal process for people to grow and mature.
This natural process means that you will more than likely outgrow friends. Outgrowing friends could signify that you are in a healthier place emotionally or maybe you have solidified your life goals, or you have adapted to a new geographical location. Specifically, when you adapt to a new geographical location, you are immersed in different cultural, ethnic, and possible spiritual traditions and values. Assimilating to new surroundings could mean you have adopted some of those new cultural, ethnic, and spiritual views that you might not have had in childhood.
3. Take an inventory of your current friendships.
Look at your friends to see what attracts you to them. Is it a specific quality you are seeking or needing in your life? Typically, if you are struggling through sadness or anxiety, you might be seeking friendships that are supportive, open, and nonjudgmental where you might feel more comfortable to be vulnerable. If you are struggling through grief or loss, you might be attracted to friends that have gone through a similar experience or are currently experiencing grief or loss of some sort. Seeking friends that are going through a similar experience of outgrowing friendships helps you feel validated and seen.
4. Give yourself and that person some grace.
It is sad, frustrating, or aggravating that an old friendship isn’t what it used to be. It’s not easy nor helpful to consistently analyze why an old friendship isn’t what it was or not what you expect anymore. It’s important to give yourself some grace to go through your own journey right now and what life is offering you in the moment. In addition, it’s ok to allow the other person to go through their journey. You never know… your paths might cross again some day in the future or you could look back understanding why it didn’t.
Sometimes the sadness and grief of outgrowing friends can become problematic or you might be experiencing more symptoms than warranted. I help clients navigate through depression, anxiety, grief/loss, and life transitions in a safe and therapeutic space.
Please feel free to contact me to schedule a free consultation.