By Jen Fine, Regular ContributorSeptember 8, 2015
If you had asked me two years ago, the summer before I entered college, I would have told you that my friends from high school were the most important people in my life. I would have explained over and over again just how puffy my eyes were the day after I said the dreaded goodbye to each and every one of them or told you of how many picture perfect memories we made in those short four years of discovery and exploration. I would have told you that they defined me– not just because I grew and matured with them, but because that was really all we had as a measurement for who we were back then.
This past summer has certainly been an eye opener. Not only did I force myself out of my comfort zone by traveling out of the country for the first time, but I also ensured that, whether or not anyone wanted to join me, I would make these three months at home fun and exciting. All around me, though, the friends that I once thought were the definition of who I was as a person seemed to fade into the background. Sure they were around to do fun things once in a while, but for the most part we all kept to ourselves. With jobs, internships, romantic relationships, and family obligations to juggle, it became increasingly difficult to coordinate fun trips and even harder to justify spending our hard earned money on summer activities.
As hard as it was to accept, we were growing up and maybe even growing apart.
Now that I sit here just a few days away from the beginning of my junior year of college, I’ve realized just how important it is to accept all the changes that have occurred as a result of these last years. In the blink of an eye it feels like I have gone from an immature, unrealistic teenager to an accomplished, future-oriented twenty-something with dreams and desires that finally seem attainable. While my friends and I were busy maturing, however, we may have forgotten that change, responsibility, and the need to free ourselves from the trivial and the petty were imperative during this transition to adulthood.
image via justcheryltan.blogspot.com
Although I love my friends more than I could ever put into words, it’s no secret that we have all changed. We have all experienced incredible things with new people and have considered new friends to be some of the best we’ve ever had. If I’ve learned one thing this summer it’s that not everything is going to stay the same, and that while I’m changing, so are the relationships I have.
Although it may be hard to accept that nothing is as it used to be, I must remind myself that the art of growing up is not inherent, but rather learned; it is something that each individual must do at their own pace, whether that involves preserving past relationships or divesting of them.
For me it has always been hard to let go– to accept that change is coming and to let it happen without any intervention. I have come to realize that the company I keep no longer defines me, but instead how I prioritize the things that I love among the things I hope to obtain. While it may not be easy to grow up or move on, it’s necessary that we do so in order to find our own success and, while that may be scary, it’s also exhilarating, no?
How have you handled the changes that come with growing up? How have you changed? Tell us below!
Jen is currently a junior majoring in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She enjoys all things sarcastic, obsessing over the New York Rangers, and is a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee fanatic. When she’s not singing in the shower, writing her feelings, or dishing out life advice to her friends, you can catch her lying around watching One Tree Hill for the third time. Feel free to check out her personal blog at jenfine.wordpress.com for more!
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