lifestyle

I’ve outgrown most of my friends – and I’m telling them the truth


Outgrowing people is terrifying as nothing prepares you for the moment it happens (Picture: Jackie Adedeji)

Have you ever had a moment where you plan to finish yet another unread novel on your shelf, but you end up scrolling through photos from 2017 onwards?

Last week, I was doing exactly that.

In my camera roll I saw many different types of people, venues, and poses – Cosmopolitans here, tequila shots there. 

Everything pre-Covid feels like another life, doesn’t it? 

Then, I realised that I no longer speak to half the people in those photos anymore. Not because we ‘fell out’ – but because I outgrew them.

Perhaps we outgrew each other.

Back when I was a teenager, my dad used to tell me that ’10 friends only stay for 10 years.’

I always thought that he was wrong – after all, I had many friends who I fiercely loved.

However, he was right in lots of ways. 

Now, I can’t even name you 10 people I have known for 10 years that I’m still friends with – it’s more like two. 

Growing up physically and mentally during the pandemic meant I changed, and the dynamics of how I lived my life changed, too.

Luckily, I spent the majority of the lockdown in Ibiza with my partner.

I started focussing on my career, which meant less time clubbing in Shoreditch on a random Friday night, and more time plotting my next career moves in different coffee shops. 

I would cancel anything and everything if it meant I could meet someone who could take my career further.

Little did I know, it meant losing friends along the way.

Everything pre-Covid feels like another life, doesn’t it? (Picture: Jackie Adedeji)

Recently, I went out with a friend I’ve known for a very long time. 

We used to go to every boozy brunch you can think of. 

We were well known in certain areas of London by bouncers because we’d always show up to empty bars and get people dancing.

Getting the party started was our thing. 

She hasn’t changed since I met her – we always laugh at how she’ll be in her eighties still going for brunch every weekend. 

We went into a bar that smelled like beer and sweat. 

She was egging me on to do what we used to – getting the party started once more.

I refused, feeling a physical and mental disconnect. 

I didn’t want to do this anymore because I’d realised that I’d simply outgrown that life.

She looked sad and attempted to push me to do it for ‘old times sake’ and I just couldn’t.

I was shocked at myself – thinking you’ve changed is one thing, but actually seeing how much it’s actually happened is quite scary. 

It didn’t help that my friend looked horrified – she was wondering where her friend had gone.

In fact I had to leave. I gathered my things quickly and left. 

She looked really surprised, which made me wonder if I had outgrown her, or was she holding onto an experience of me that has frankly died.

I sent her a long message on my train home that same evening where I felt I had to admit defeat. 

I was still the same person in many ways – caring, fun and up for a laugh – but my partying ways had evolved.

I’ve changed drastically from the person she knew me as. 

She was understanding, which made me feel confident – it was important to always express what’s in your heart. 

Outgrowing people is terrifying as nothing prepares you for the moment it happens.

You try to tap into what you still believe is you, but your gut puts its hands on your shoulders, telling you to simply move on.

It’s painful. 

You get used to seeing somebody you’ve had countless experiences with. From the good to the bad and the simply sheer ugly. 

You’re used to waking up with half a kebab on your face.

In a lot of ways I’m becoming a new, better version of myself (Picture: Jackie Adedeji)

Then one day, poof! That soon becomes a memory, and your old friend’s laughter becomes a distant sound in the noise of your ever changing life.

My well-known brunch friend wasn’t the first, and she certainly won’t be the last that I’ve outgrown. 

I’ve had to have tough conversations with other friends, as well as myself, because I’ve noticed I’ve changed.

My priorities have shifted and I’m spinning countless plates at the same time. 

These important conversations with my friends also involve me admitting that I used to go out so much because I was simply lonely at that time, living in a house I didn’t like.

Partying was me, but excessive partying came from a place of loneliness, and that isn’t me.

Now I plan dinners with people eight weeks in advance, for fear of cancelling at the last minute due to the business of my life, and having friends wrongly think I don’t want to see them.

Life as a twenty-something really can just get in the way.

I know it’s my fault. I’m changing, and it’s exciting but also scary at the same time.

One moment, you and your friends are in sync just like your periods.

Then the older you get, your lives become more out of tune, and more Google calendar-based. 

There’s less phone calls, more unlistened voice notes, and less Instagram comments on your latest post.

For lots of people, the pandemic drove friendships closer, and for many others – like myself – the person stepping into the pandemic is different to the one coming out. 

This means that friendship dynamics change, making it weird and nostalgic, almost, looking back at photos and realising you’re no longer in contact with, lamenting for lost bottomless brunches.

But, does change truly have to be a bad thing?

I don’t think so, because in a lot of ways I’m becoming a new, better version of myself.

However, while growth can be lonely and isolating, letting go isn’t exciting: it’s terrifying. 

This new, exciting, me is unknown territory. 

You’re saying goodbye to an old version of you, but if we aren’t growing then we are dying.

To me, I’ve realised that I’ve always lived with this notion that friendships are forever – basing my female friends, and the concept of them, on The Spice Girls.

All five of them against the world – but even they fell out and got married, got divorced, lost touch, made up, and disbanded again.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing jess.austin@metro.co.uk

Share your views in the comments below.


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