As legendary rapper Tupac puts it: “things will never be the same: that’s just the way it is.” Change is inevitable, and yet we do our best to try and resist it while growing up. We may have some tight friends from childhood/adolescence all the way up to adulthood, but when people grow, everything becomes a bit more complex. Although many people believe they can relate to the old adage “true friendship isn’t being separable; it’s being separated and nothing changes”, we all have to admit that eventually people and things do change: values, ethics, households, careers, etc. It’s natural and even necessary to lose friends, especially in the transition from high school to college. Unfortunately, the immediate aftermath just plain sucks.
So how to deal with the heartache?
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard actually comes from Tyler Perry’s poorly rated film, Madea Goes to Jail. His alter-ego, an old, sassy woman named Madea, spits serious wisdom on relationships:
“This is what I’ve learned in all these years I’ve been on this earth: if somebody wants to get up and walk out of your life, let them go.”
The aforementioned adage only rings true if people still value your friendship despite all of the changes. But if you are no longer a priority to someone, you need to remember that you don’t deserve to be a mere option. As cliché as it is, it’s true when they say that “if it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.” People make time for their priorities. If you are doing everything in your power to catch up with an old friend or see them, and they keep blowing you off, you need to stop trying. As Madea says, “they don’t care. Move on. Let ‘em go.” She also goes on to say:
“Let folks go, son. Some people come into your life, some come for a season, and you got to know which is which.”
Some people really were only meant to be in your life for a certain period of time for a certain purpose. As much as you love your best buddies from high school, they may very well have only been supposed to be in your life during those four tumultuous years. This will happen for the rest of your life as well, and it’s important to identify who will be there for you in the long run and who shouldn’t be.
So how to distinguish?
Madea puts everybody in the category of a tree:
“Some people, are like leaves on a tree: the wind blow, they’re over here. They’re unstable. The wind blow, they over there. The weather changes, they wither up and die. They’re gone. And that’s alright. That’s some people; most people in the world are like that, they’re just there to take from the tree. That’s all they do, take from the tree and give shade now and again. That’s all they can do. But don’t get mad at people like that, that’s who they are, they’ll never be anything but a leaf. That’s what they were put on this earth to be: a leaf.”
These are the flaky friends. The people who only hit you up when they need something. The people who call simply to gossip or bitch about their problems, but are nowhere to be found whenever you need them.
“Some people, are like a branch on that tree. You gotta be careful with them branches too, because they’ll fool you. They’ll get there and make you think they’re a good friend and that they’re strong, but the minute you step out there on them? They’ll break and leave you high and dry.”
These are probably most of your old friends — your closest homies from childhood, middle school, and high school, who were there during your hard times in your younger years. Yet now they turn their backs on you when you need them most because they don’t understand your new life, or they resent the changes that have come about you. As difficult as it may be to admit, although cutting off a branch may seem like a heavy loss, the tree is still able to survive without them.
“But if you find you two or three people in your life that are like the roots at the bottom of that tree? You are truly blessed, ’cause the’s the kind of people that ain’t going nowhere. They ain’t worried about being seen, don’t nobody have to know that they know you, they ain’t got to know what they’re doing for you, but if those roots weren’t there that tree couldn’t live. You understand? A tree can have a hundred million branches, but only a few roots down at the bottom to make sure it gets everything it need… when you get you some roots, hold on to them. The rest of ’em? Just let them go. Let folks go.”
This is family, whether blood or unconditional. These are the people who have not only seen you changed, but both allowed it and still love you for it. These are the people who have changed themselves. These are the ones that you can call at 3am in the morning crying your eyes out, who you can grab a fatty brunch with at 10am, or with who you can go on a silent drive because no words are necessary. These are the people who help you function and support you no matter what you do.
Cherish and love them, because these kinds of people are rare.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with trying to keep as many friends as possible, whether old or new. However, be aware of whenever a friendship is starting to cost you too much time or energy, or whenever a friend is hurting you and can’t care two sh*ts. Leaves and branches do make up a tree: just remember, they’re not necessary for its survival. Keep your leaves and branches, but let them go when they start rotting and always, always hold on to your roots.