Growing out of toxic friendships is OK


Jennafer Bowman | @jennaferbowman, Staff Columnist

College is hard. Moving, roommates, classes – it’s all added stress that can eat you up inside. However, nothing can prepare you for losing your hometown friends. 

You come home, excited to hang out with everyone again, and instead of smiling faces and a hug, you’re greeted with hostility. It’s heartbreaking. Someone who you told your deepest, darkest secrets to has turned into an alien – a familiar form from a past life.

You come back from college excited to share everything. Maybe you even brought a tangible piece of work you’ve put time, sweat and tears into. You hand it to them, and it’s as if their anger at you has burst. They dismiss you, your work and your friendship, all because of their personal experiences – all because you had a good semester and they did not. They become angry at your successes and resent you. They don’t realize that everyone blooms on their own, that not everyone is going to have the same college experience. 

Maybe their peak came before your own. Something that you weren’t particularly good at in high school was their crowning achievement. They go to college expecting to be king at that activity and quickly realize that 20 other people are also extremely good at it, maybe even better. Then, a month in, they scroll through their social media feed and see you with any sort of an accomplishment, and it makes their stomach churn. Or, it could be that they’ve never had to deal with someone besides themselves thriving, which is hard. I’ll admit it’s not easy to see yourself become the one struggling, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to tear up their work and spit on it. Sure, I’ve felt resentment, but I realize that it’s not about me; it’s about them. For 10 minutes of my day, I stop thinking the world revolves around me and that I revolve around that person and their life.

If you are that friend or you think you acted like that friend, here’s some advice. 

Do you remember when you achieved something extraordinary? You were so proud, and the friend you had previously dismissed was there for you, in the stands, in the crowd or on your couch, supporting you. So, when it’s their time to shine, it’s not that they’re expecting a bouquet of flowers or for you to bow at their feet. All they expect from you is a tiny bit of interest. They’re also most likely not trying to one-up you either; they’re just genuinely excited to show off their work, just like you have been at one point in time. 

It’s not hard to be a good friend. You don’t have to be available 24/7, and you don’t always have to be attached at the hip; you just need to be there for them. Not every act of friendship has to be a five-hour hangout, a gift or a physical notion. A simple text is enough. 

If your achievements make someone hate you, they’re not your friend. But, that means you’re doing something right.