20 kids, 20 years (A rant on friendships)

Nnebuugo Paul.
3 min readMay 3, 2023

As kids, friendship was easy. All it required was a little something, a little push. A teacher places A and B as sit-mates, and they automatically become friends. A shares lunch with B, and the result is friendship. A helps B when she or he falls, and they have an instant friendship. It was easy; that may be why it sometimes ended quickly too.

But as an adult, friendship is way more complicated. I’ve learned that being sit mates is not enough because sometimes, out of sight is unintentionally out of mind. I have learned that friendship is a lot of work, like everything that is worth it.

I’ve learned that you can love someone with all your heart and still love the person wrong. I have learned that the dynamics of each friendship are different. You have to relate to each friend differently, even if they have similar character traits, and oh, you may not always agree with your friends.

I’ve learned that sharing your life with someone does not guarantee that they will share theirs with you. I have learned that no matter how beautiful your friendship is, sometimes friends keep stuff from you to protect themselves, the bond you share, or just because they can.

I’ve learned that people you love have the power to hurt you the most and that sometimes we hurt the people we love too, and that when your friends hurt you, many times it was not their intent, just like you don’t just wake up and say “hey, it’s a perfect day to make my friend shed sad or angry tears.”

I have learned that difficult conversations should be had, that misunderstanding does not mean the absence of love, that sometimes silence is enough and advices seems like judgment, and that the solution is not always to cut people off because as much as we love to convince ourselves and say good riddance, a lot of times, we start to miss them and it sucks.

I’ve come to realize that unforgiveness hurts us as much as it hurts the person we are unforgiving towards, it helps no party, that people need you to come through for them even though they don’t ask for help as much as they should, and at the same time that as adults, we should learn to open our mouths and ask for help, speak when something makes us uncomfortable — basically, communicate.

I’ve learned that see finish is inevitable, but it’s supposed to be alright because vulnerability is essential in every friendship, even though this is not always true. The heart is like a giant elastic bag; it’s big enough to accommodate as many people as you let in, but the fact that there is space does not mean that a person belongs in your heart. Not everyone should be your friend. Love yourself enough to know this.

The most painful lesson I have learned is that friendships evolve and leave you with 3 am memories and souvenirs. I have learned that holding on to evolved friendships causes more harm than good and that friendships evolve for many reasons but evolved friendship is not equivalent to enmity.

You can’t completely erase a person. We are not wired that way, but simultaneously, you can’t force a person to love you as hard as they first loved you; you can’t make a person stay.

People are not like clothes that can be changed often (depending on the TikTok transition); love alone doesn’t just change people. People have to decide whether they want to change or not, and acceptance is essential in friendships, empathy too.

I’ve learned that empathy, like every other life skill c̶a̶n̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶l̶e̶a̶r̶n̶e̶d̶, should be learned, that people will always be people, and this sometimes includes me, that to love is complicated and friendship is a lot of work but oh, doesn’t it make the world less lonely?

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Nnebuugo Paul.

Words are beautiful, stories are beautiful pieces of memories.