My happiest memories from my school years are those spent with the friends I made after years of feeling out of place and excluded. You can imagine how difficult it has been in the years since we left school that I fell out of touch with all but two and have always felt this sense of disappointment and regret.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I haven’t always felt disappointed or regretful – there have been times they have behaved in a certain way which has made me think ‘ah, I’m glad we didn’t remain close friends’. But then there were those times where something would remind of a memory, and you would be hit with feelings of sadness and would shrug in acceptance that this is the way life is now.
I made attempts to reconnect, but with our lives going in different directions, things just never seemed right. Not the way they used to be. We have been through so much in our own individual lives without each other, we didn’t have that feeling of dependence anymore as we had coped without each other’s support. It makes me sad to write that, actually. Because at one point, nothing would happen in my life without them knowing about it. They were my confidants, companions, friends. I’d had so many firsts with them backing me – first kiss, first ‘time’, first boyfriend.
I have missed them at points over the last 11 years, absolutely. And I had accepted that we were no longer going to be friends, really. Just another ‘friend’ on Facebook, someone who’s pictures I liked and whose posts I saw now and again. I resigned myself to realising that was the fate of our friendship.
Until last week.
In the last week, I have planned and booked a Hen Do for our close friend – and I will be going on a weekend break with the girls. Something I’ve never done, and it feels quite special that the first ever is going to be with the girls I used to be so close to. I’m so excited – I feel like this river of ice we’ve been stranded on for so many years has finally shattered and the barrier has gone. It’s amazing how different I feel in myself, too. I have a new purpose – I no longer think about the past with dread, as though I’ve screwed up any chance of retaining meaningful friendships in my adult life. I feel positive and giddy.
It also gave me a new desire to make an effort and motivate others to push their boundaries too. One of the girls became a recluse after school and no-one has really seen her since 2008. Until I text her and we went out for dinner on Sunday. And it was like no time had passed. She told me she was so nervous about how it was going to go – but realised I was the exact same person I was in school 11 years ago. That made me feel so happy. She said that she hadn’t laughed so much in years. Told me about the tough times she has faced and why she became a recluse. I told her she didn’t need to be lonely anymore and we were going to get her to her happy place again. We went swimming together last night, in fact. And on a night out in a few weeks.
See, I started this blog because I realised life is far too short to get hung up on the little things and stay unhappy. I told myself 2018 was going to be the year of change. I would make better choices, make my life worthwhile – through big and small steps. And this week has been incredible. It may sound small to some, but to me, having my friends again is like coming home. They were the first people to make me feel accepted and loved for being myself. I’m so excited to get to know them again – and rekindle the bond we once had.
The easiest thing in the world is to make excuses as to why we can’t. But what if you can? What if all it takes is a bit of courage and an open heart to try again. I could easily have been bitter, and said ‘nah, I’m not bothering’. Instead, I made the Hen Do happen. I booked it, I made sure the people my friend wanted there were coming, and there was a snapshot of our old selves again. Oh, how I’ve missed it. I forgot how much I missed it, but I have.
Don’t get hung up on the small issues – in the grand scheme of things, none of that will matter when it comes to meeting the end of our journey. We don’t know when that will be, or how, or why. But I would rather say, ‘I tried’ than say ‘I wish I had tried’.
The past isn’t always the past for a reason – sometimes we neglect the present and it becomes the past. But it doesn’t have to stay there forever. Love freely and love often.