On Tuesday, the 13th of June 2017, everyone was bubbling over with excitement. With dresses, shoes and make-up strewn around the hostel rooms, people rushed past in a blur to make it in time for the ceremony. The graduation countdown had started officially on our hostel wall using pencils to write the days left. I watched as it began from "238 days left" down to today.
After six years of being around the same people and living together, it is inevitable for a bond to form; a connection to bloom. Four of my friends and I posed, all dressed up in our navy blue graduation gowns, our caps with the tassel thrown to the right forced atop our heads and our feet tucked into heeled shoes and sandals, with smiles on our faces as people took our pictures. That picture was my wallpaper for the longest time. My friend carries the Polaroid of that photo around in her wallet. A depiction of our bond.
Choosing a boarding school for secondary (high) school they say is one of the best decisions you can make. You get to have wonderful experiences and meet amazing people, which is true. The journey was amazing. Being constantly surrounded by your friends and having an endless flow of laughter.
Most people say after secondary school, you forget your friends. You all separate and move on with life. I refused to accept that. I believed that other people didn't try hard enough. I believed it would be different with us. A set joined so strongly by their experiences it seemed impossible for us to lose touch. 'Besides,' we thought, 'it's the communication age, the world is a global village, keeping in touch will be easy.'
After the graduation ceremony, my friend and I were crying after vowing not to shed a tear on this day. We went around hugging people and telling them how much we'd miss them when we ran into a roommate of mine. She asked why we were crying and said: ''It’s a small world, we’ll definitely run into each other.''
Another one of my friends stood cry-laughing, calling on everyone who passed individually asking where she would find another person like them. She looked at me and said: "Where will I find another Fatima?" With tears running down her eyes.
When I went for my first year of Uni that October, I was optimistic I would meet new amazing people at the same time not forgetting my old friends. After a short while, I discovered that I was an exception in meeting the so-called amazing new people in university. The gravity of everything hit and my optimism faded and turned into cynicism. I lost all hope in my happiness in university and clung to my old friends as strongly as I could.
During the Christmas break, I was ecstatic to see them. We had sleepovers and Harry Potter marathons. Some days with them rejuvenated me. But I dreaded going back to school. The second semester of my first year came around and school was less depressing. I met some people and by the time I started my second year, I had people I could call friends but I didn't. I constantly compared these people to my old friends. They didn't get the twitter memes I showed them and they didn't know old Disney songs to sing with me and reminisce about. Once, my brother called and asked: "How are your friends?" "They're 'acquaintances', not friends," I corrected.
At this point, I had stopped speaking with most of my set mates and though this was saddening, I still had my closest friends and I was happy. As time lasped, messages were left unreplied, conversations turned cold and awkward and phone calls that were missed- because of different time zones- were promised to be returned but never were.
About a year and a half ago, I remember waking up to see a missed call from one of my closest old friend (who was abroad) around 2am. The next night, I set my alarm for 2am excited to finally hear from her. I called and she picked up. We were all giggly and excited. Then she said: "I'm out now so I'll call back immediately I get home, okay?" I agreed and she said "love youuu" and I laughed and hung up. I fell asleep while waiting and that conversation never continued.
When this epidemic that is losing touch with people began to slowly seep into my relationships with some of my closest friends whom I thought I'd be with for life, the realisation then hit me: losing touch is inevitable and that is completely okay. I decided to let go and stop being so uptight and anxious. To stop forcing conversations and friendships that seemed one-sided. To not be afraid of letting go of some relationships. The people who are meant to be in your life will be there so there's no need to fret and stress. Sometimes, people are just passing through your life to teach you something and are not there to stay.
During this summer holiday, I started conversations with my so-called 'acquaintances' and they turned out enjoyable; filled with laughter and inside jokes. Sub-consciously, I had upgraded my 'acquaintances' to friends by not measuring them by the standards of my old friends. Presently, we speak regularly when I'm not in school compared to before when I totally avoided and ignored them. I still speak with some old friends who stuck closer than glue and refused to let go. Maybe distance and other contributing factors of losing touch were a filter for the ones who would remain and those who wouldn't.
I realised having strong old friendships is amazing, but they shouldn’t limit you from building relationships with new people. You never know the wonderful people you could meet. Know when to let go of some relationships because sometimes, connections fade away and that’s okay. Remember to: Take a chance.