I was being a total lurk on Facebook and happened upon one of my old friends from college who was tagged in some photos. I clicked through mindlessly until it suddenly it me — Despite nights turned into mornings, hours of conversation, dozens of secrets shared, tears and laughter rolled into one — I don’t know this person anymore. And it’s both brutally heartbreaking and apathetically expected at the same time.
Isn’t it weird how you can know someone so deeply and relate to them so intimately and then two years later it’s like they may as well be strangers because they are, in fact, strangers? I am new to this phenomenon but I am sure it is something I will encounter frequently as I go forth into adulthood.
When you invest enough time, emotion and commitment to an individual, you are giving a piece of yourself to them. You are allowing them to change you and vice versa. You are experiencing life together, learning and celebrating wins. You are giving the finger to fate when things are just not going your way. You are eating fast food at 2 a.m. because you are young and alive and that means your metabolism is on crack. You are becoming more of you who are, because of these people you have let connect with you in so many aspects of your life.
And then all of a sudden, for myriad reasons, that person has disappeared from your life. You stop talking, you stop hanging out and you aren’t there to see what else life has to throw at them, and they are not there to see how you’re doing either. You don’t share their highs, their lows, their revelations and their stupidity. You don’t see them fixing their flaws or falling into new vices. Time goes by and as you live your life you begin to change and they begin to change and while you’re dating, working and dealing with life they are doing the same until suddenly, months or years later, you are a different person. And so are they. And the only thing you know you have in common with them is that you are a completely changed individual than who you were when you were with them. It is jarring to realize that 80% of the people in your current life know 0% of the life your past friendships were a part of.
I don’t know what music they like, what movies they have seen recently, how their dreams and goals have changed or stayed the same. I don’t know if they are emotionally okay or if they need help with something. I know nothing. I am not privilege to the inner workings of their minds and hearts anymore.
As I sit here and ruminate on those haunting Facebook photos — the ones of a stranger who happens to look like someone I knew inside and out — I think about my weekend. I spent a large portion of it at work and jumping hoops in many ways. My co-workers know me as this happy-go-lucky and confident individual and I can affirm that yes, that is who I am a lot of the time. But they aren’t aware of what it took to get me from the insecure college freshman I was to who I am now.
After work I went to grab a couple drinks with some high school friends. They have changed a lot too and we are very different from each other, but they have consistently been in my life and I am able to adapt to these changes because I am still connected with them. And yet even they do not know how much I learned and grew in college — they were not there for that.
And it is crazy to think that the two people who knew all of my struggles, saw all of my flaws, accepted me at my best and worst, who experienced some of the most memorable collegiate events of my life, who pulled all-nighters studying, who raced foolishly down the highway at 2 a.m. with me, who ate countless lunches, dinners and brunches with me, who played such influential roles in the way I see myself and how I interact with and treat others, those important people in my life, are not around anymore.
They have NO idea who I am or what I am going through in my life. And I do not know who they are or what they are experiencing in theirs.
Facebook gives us the false impression that we are aware of what’s going on in our friends’ and acquaintances’ lives but the truth is, unless we are speaking to these people and having real conversations with each other, we have no idea whose profiles we are really looking at. We haven’t the faintest idea of what is going on at the core of their lives. And for the most part, that’s a good thing. We don’t want or need to know the inner workings of Bob from Psychology 101 or what’s going on with Susie from that one time we went to Vegas. We don’t know and we don’t care.
But the people who used to be our “bffs?” The people who we barely talked to on Facebook because we were so busy getting to know each other and were so in contact in real life?
It’s weird to see their photos and see how they have physically changed and yet not know a thing about who they really are. All I can say is, I hope they are happier and doing even better than when we were friends.
As for myself? I don’t know if they think about me ever. I don’t know if anyone from my past is asking the same questions about me. I am happy where I’m at. I am meeting new people, learning new things, losing weight healthily and about to dive into a few new adventures in the next couple of weeks. I am growing and experiencing life and hope to go even deeper into what the world has to offer. I have dreams, fears, insecurities, highs and lows that a few people know about, but the people who used to be the first and only individuals to know all of that, are strangers.
It has been two years since my world began changing without them.
It will be decades of change and by the time Facebook dies out we may have forgotten we were in each others lives at all.