Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometimes

I am realizing this only as I get older. If I were two years younger at the least, I probably would not have to worry about keeping and losing friends. But given that a lot has happened in the past two years, I doubt if it even matters.

During a particularly interesting conversation with a friend a few days ago over Sangria, I believe that our slight intoxication drove us to open up our woes about friendships, some of which we have lost or are in the process of losing (or maybe that was just me?).

Why can’t they love us back? Why can’t they give us the same kind of attention and affection that we give them? Why are we set aside the moment a man or woman comes along in their life? Why are we always considered as just backups?

Looking back on our conversation, it is painfully funny to think how needy we both have become with our friends. The only consolation that we managed to convince ourselves with is that all of us—yes, in this world—feel the same thing. It cannot be just the two of us. That would be the saddest thing. To realize that you are not someone’s reason for happiness; that you are not anyone’s drunken call buddy; that all of your friends would be fine if you went your separate ways.

You cannot even count on your childhood friends. You cannot hold them on a promise you made ten years ago at a Bougainvillea bush, tearing its leaves and showering it around you like confetti to seal the vow of being “friends forever”. You cannot rely on friends you made as a kid during a particularly intense battle of Agaw Base. As you grow old, prerequisites for friendship become more serious: Is she into good books? Does he smoke? Didn’t she sleep with a lot of people? Is he into K-pop? His hair is blond—BLOND. I cannot live with THAT. She doesn’t like the Beatles?! I can’t be friends with someone who thinks Casablanca is a brand of chocolate.

When I was younger, I was not exactly hell bent on finding the one—but I did think “the one” would be the one person that would be difficult to find. After all, you are going to spend a lifetime (ideally) with that person. Growing up, almost every adult I know, and a lot of the movies I loved, talked about finding the one, or going on an adventure in life to find the one, or even leaving everything behind and starting their lives over because they lost someone whom they thought was “the one”. “The one” was a very big deal. And it sucks to realize now that these people—whether fictional or not—were so focused on finding the one person they were hoping to spend the rest of their lives with, that they ignored the people who were already a big part of their lives, and whom they had vows of eternal friendship with (regardless of the means by which it was made).

You know the romantic comedy movies that we love, when the girl is having problems about love or finding love, and there is always one person who sticks up to her, the best friend whom she could always count on regardless of how many times that friend gets screwed over or left behind? That is just a stupid concept.

All of us want to be the protagonist of our own life. No one wants to be the unnamed and stupidly loyal best friend who does not even get to deliver more than three lines. And that is where the problem starts. All of us are looking for someone who will stick with us through thick and thin, but almost always, no one wants to be the person someone depends on, the best bud a friend can call when she is drunk and wants company.

Nietzsche said, “Blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders.” How can you hold someone up with promises and life plans made years ago when that person does not remember, or does not want to remember? The answer is, you cannot. You cannot force someone to stay in your life, no matter how much they mean to you. You cannot throw all those promises made to their faces, because they would have most definitely changed, and you would have too.

The only thing you can do is treasure the current friends you have, refrain from making promises you know you cannot keep (forever), and live in the now. Accept things as they happen and let go of friends when they want to get more out of life, even if it means leaving you behind. In the long run, not only will you leave your bitter self in the past, but you will also be happier because of it.

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