As the Earth spins on its axis, every creature on the planet must learn to adapt in order to survive the changes that have occurred. On a smaller scale, as human beings we too must do what is best for ourselves if we want to keep on living — even if that means letting go of what is familiar to us and accepting that our lives will not always be what they were.
I’ve focused on change a lot in this blog: a change in location, a change in circumstances, a change in ourselves. But what happens when we pick up on the changes in those around us? What happens when we realize that the people we’ve known for years are no longer the ones who make us happy? What happens when our memories and nostalgia are eclipsed by our differences in interests and behaviors? And what happens when we don’t like what we see?
All too often, people hold on tightly to relationships simply because of the length they have lasted so far. “She may seem selfish and manipulative these days,” one might say, “but we’ve known each other since kindergarten, and deep down she isn’t actually like that.” One girl may fight with her boyfriend every day, then argue, “We’ve been dating for two years and we’re in love,” even though she stresses out over the relationship constantly. More and more, we find ourselves defending those close to us long after we’ve drifted apart, when the only thread holding the friendship together at that point is the highly coveted Past. The trouble is, we’re often too afraid to let that thread go.
We tend to place a lot of importance on early experiences, especially firsts, because those are the ones that helped us to grow up before we even knew we could grow up. It makes sense! Connections to those from our past allow us to hold on to a simpler, more innocent time in our lives, before we had the Real World and its tragedies to worry about. — Tweet this!
And it’s not like pop culture helps us at all — movies and television seem to worship this concept of “together once, together forever.” For instance, on The OC, nerdy but super cute Seth Cohen remained in love with the beautiful and popular Summer Roberts since she read her poem about mermaids to their class in third grade, even though she hardly even spoke to him until their sophomore year of high school. Don’t get me wrong — I love Seth and Summer, but this is just another example of longevity’s importance in the media.
A shared history can bring people close together, but it doesn’t always have to. We have to remember that the fact that we have known each other for a long time doesn’t mean we need to accept a friendship or relationship that will never be what it once was. Sometimes, we’re scared to let go of what’s familiar to us — we’re afraid of falling out of our comfortable habits — either because we fear the unknown or because we fear that we will never find someone else.
I’m not saying that you should drop every relationship that’s ever lasted in your life. But when a friendship or relationship starts to do more bad than good, it’s time to let go. It’s time to free ourselves from the relationships that no longer make us happy and find others that will. 🙂