Have you ever noticed the absence of someone is comforting because you’ve finally stopped missing them? Your personal feelings should never be dependent on what the other person has done or feels. You can’t force someone to mirror your emotions; you’re allowed to keep missing someone until the day you don’t anymore. Unfortunately, that’s not a day that can be predicted.
I’ve shrunk myself down throughout my teenage years and belittled myself in silence to comfort the people I once thought I needed in my life — even though I knew they didn’t feel that way about me. I knew I no longer needed them to become who I wanted, even though it hurt me at the moment to let go. For the longest time, I missed them, but then there was a drastic change in my mood when I realized I’m finally where I needed to be and surrounded by people who help me become a better version of myself.
Outgrowing people is a natural part of our lives. We all change at a different pace than others might. Therefore, sometimes when we find people who are not progressing with us, we cut ties. There’s nothing wrong with that because it’s not our job to force others to become what we need; sometimes, it’s better to leave someone behind to reach our full potential.
Ultimately, the ones who support and encourage you emotionally will follow you through life in a way you deserve. It’s common for most people to quickly gain friends in their teenage years and early/mid-20s, only to lose them just as quickly later on. An article by CNN health has discovered that women tend to end up with a smaller social circle by the time they’re 25. A woman will approximately contact 17 individuals/ month, while a man contacts 19/ month.
Do we lose people for a reason?
The answer is yes. As we grow up, we let pettiness get the best of us; we stop putting in effort when we start to feel like we aren’t wanted… And the biggest difference between outgrowing someone versus drifting apart from them is; one is necessary, while the other is inevitable.
Although it’s never easy losing years’ worth of connections, it’s even harder pretending and convincing yourself what you used to have with this person, or these people are still there. “People have conflicting desires to be good friends and to accommodate other people’s wishes, but also a desire to follow the rules, [sometimes those things align, and sometimes they don’t]” (para. 5). We are constantly changing, and the state of our minds develop more the same as our bodies do.
Once I realized that I no longer need people—and that I, myself and I are the only tools for growth that are necessary, it became easier to find happiness. People can be some of our biggest anchors that prevent us from sailing into bigger and better things. By forcing ourselves to stay rooted in relationships that we no longer have anything to learn from, we are held back from truly finding the people who are meant to be permanent.
Should I feel guilty?
Fortunately, the answer is no. We must prioritize ourselves above others, and if we drift apart from someone during the journey, it’s not selfishness or neglect but a crucial part in the process.
Eventually, people change, or they don’t change at all. Those could both equally be the problem and the solution depending on what chapter you’re currently in, in your life. Once a good rapport is established with the people we initially surrounded ourselves with, it feels unnatural when we start looking at them like strangers. “Being the person who feels [abandoned] because they have been outgrown, will result in more friction and fragmentation within the relationship. The easiest way to ensure that you are growing is through support … Stop feeling guilty, it’s okay to be outgrown, it can be used as the perfect wake-up call” (para. 10). It’s easy to view this feeling as selfishness because we’ve never been taught to be unapologetic about reforging our predestined path in order to reach our full potential. It’s okay to outgrow people because this just means that it’s the end of their chapter in your story. Sometimes good things fall for better things to fall into place.
At the end of the day, it’s not like we stop caring just because we cut our losses. We also outgrow our previous selves. And at some point in time, they were the friends, the significant others, or even the colleagues who played a role in your life to get you where you are now. It does get painful, but there is no growth without pain.