To All the Friends I've Lost
Do you have a friend you used to hang out with but now, your chat has been inactive for months? What started as awkward ‘how are you?’s and one-line answers slowly turned into less and less activity. Until you both gave up. And moved on.
Being back in my German hometown made me realise how many friendships I formed here were lost. Being back felt strange because although the city is still familiar, I lack connections to its people. I know my way around the public transport system and I know how much you should tip to be polite in a coffee shop, but I do not have many friends I could call up to sit in that coffee shop with me.
My old high school is very close to my home and every time I walked by, I was reminded of how many great friends I made there and how many of them I lost since leaving my school. I moved from Germany to Hong Kong in 2016, leaving all my friends behind. Although I tried to stay in touch with many of them, I learned that we all move on. In the beginning, you text regularly and Skype is your new method of meeting up. But after a while, life gets busy for everyone and we make new friends.
I feel like talking about friends we lost has a negative connotation - like there must be bad blood when friendships do not last. But I do not think that this is true. Most of the friends I lost are people I still love. And if they called me at 3am because they needed someone to talk to, I would pick up. I made this video to show others that sometimes, friendships just do not work out but that does not mean that they were not worth your time or that you do not care about your ex-friends anymore.
Looking through old chats, I realised that I lost different kinds of friends. I lost one of my best friends. Close friends who I wish I could talk to again like we used to a few years ago. And friends who I never missed. The video is for all of them. I chose one of my former close friends to represent the different close friends I lost because I could not address every single one of them. But the video is nonetheless for all of them. Here are the letters I wrote to them:
Dear ex-best friend from high school,
I wish I knew how your life is going. I wish I could see your smile again. And go swimming with you and laugh about boys you used to like.
But you have a new best friend and so do I. But it will never be the same. You were so different than me. Always asking people to hang out and having ideas for things to do. You craved social interaction and my introverted self did not. But you accepted that and loved me anyway.
I don’t think I miss you. At least not the you you are now. I think I just miss us. The old us. The one I can look back at in my box of photos from high school. The us that went on vacations together and knew each other’s homes like their own. The us that joked together and chatted about everything and nothing. This version of us belongs in a past where we wore ripped jeans on the daily and where my curls were an insecurity I tried to hide from the world. I don’t miss the us we were at the end. We grew out of our friendship and into adulthood. Putting a continent between us was certain to be a tough test for our friendship, but I really thought we would make it through.
Our final awkward ‘how are you?’s didn’t do our friendship justice. I don’t know which one of us stopped trying to force a conversation - I still can’t bring myself to open our old chats because I’m scared of the memories hurting too much. But sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we had tried a little harder. I don’t know if it had changed anything, but I would feel better knowing I did everything I could to save our friendship. I’m sorry that I didn’t.
I know that we ended up having nothing to say to each other, but I think I should have told you that I love you. I still do. We will probably never be friends again, but I learned a lot from you and our friendship changed me for the better. I met you when I had just left a private school where all that mattered were the brands you wore and you taught me that those things don’t matter at all. Your integrity inspired me to be better. I am grateful for what you taught me.
And I hope you’re doing well - wherever you are in life.
Lots of Love,
To the friend who I never really knew:
I don’t even know if we’re still friends - or if we ever really were. We just hung out because our friends hung out and we were brought along like the speakers for the terrible rap music we used to listen to.
I miss your calm voice and the way you used to joke about your stress. I miss the way you made me comfortable because when we were brought along to big events, we faded into the background. We were never the people others showed up for, but it didn’t matter because we had great conversations anyway.
We never really met up by ourselves and I don’t think I ever texted you outside a group chat. But you nonetheless know stuff some of my friends don’t. You were so easy to talk to. I miss that.
And I miss your stories about people I’d never meet but you would describe their characters with such precision that it felt like I knew them too.
I wish we had met differently. By ourselves. Maybe that would have changed things. I haven’t talked to you in months. But I wish I had.
To the ones I don’t miss:
I heard of fake friends long before I realised I had some. And that I’ve probably been one to some.
You were the ones who didn’t care about me but made me care about you. And I did. In hindsight, I see what was wrong with us. When a friend never asks you how you’re doing, but instead only tells you about them and asks for favours, they’re not your friend.
For a long time, I thought I couldn’t tell you that I don’t want to be your friend anymore. Because how would that make you feel? Would it crush you? The sad truth is, keeping you as a friend did that exact thing to me.
And so at some point, I cut you out of my life. I didn’t do it the clean and adult way… instead, I simply replied to your texts days later and sometimes ignored them altogether. I did it the coward-like way because I was more invested in your emotions than you were in mine.
To all the people I’ve lost by cutting them out of my life… I don’t think I lost you. I think I gained something by getting rid of you. I don’t miss you and I don’t think you’re missing me either. You needed to leave my life to make space for better people. Thank you for leaving. And for teaching me that I deserve to have people in my life who care about me.
I hope you’re being a better friend to someone else.
So there you have it. Sometimes friendships end and that is that, It does not mean that there is nay bad blood or some secret feud. Sometimes life simply gets in the way. Sometimes we make new friends and stop prioritising our old ones. Some friendships may not be meant to stand the test of time, but they are nonetheless worth spending your time on. As you can see from the letters, all my lost friendships taught me something - even the friendships I broke off intentionally.
Reflecting on these lost friendships also made me realise that I miss the comfort and safety some of them provided. Sometimes, I wish I could go back in time and put in a little more effort. Try just one more time. If you have a friendship which makes you feel like that, please feel free to send the link to the video or this post to your friend to remind them of your friendship.
Lots of Love,