16 November 2009

on becoming an adult, hopefully.

As most of you know, my daughter graduated from high school this past May.  In August she headed off to college, and after a couple of bumpy weeks she found her groove.  I knew she would.  She's smart and sensible, and while it's scary being away from home, on your own – for the first time – it does get easier.  In fact, most folks learn to enjoy the autonomy and freedom of being away from home.

Some not so much.  The world is too big and too scary.

Sadly, while my daughter has started to progress and grow, some of those close to her have not.  It's sad actually to see the demise of what used to be very close friendships.  But honestly, I'm not surprised.  It's hard for high school friendships to survive when the people involved go in such divergent directions.

It's even harder when one of the friends does not appear to grow or mature, but in fact shows signs of regression.  Add to that comments such as, "people who go to college are wasting their time," and it makes me think that perhaps someone is feeling a bit insecure and left behind.

My daughter is hurt, and even a bit angry that she is being mocked and being treated as if this is somehow all her fault.  As her mother, it hurts me too, but this is something that she is handling quite well on her own.  After trying to communicate and being bombarded with nasty responses, she's decided what the best way to deal with the angry and mean messages is.  She's ignoring them.  Sometimes you just have to let it go. 

My daughter may be young, but she learned at an early age that there are some people you just shouldn't argue with.  Some of these people see themselves as they want to be seen, not as those around them see them. 

And maybe that's not such a bad thing.  Eventually, some (but not all) of these young adults learn the hard way that the friendships they broke in the name of "being more mature and adult" and "leaving high school drama" behind them was due to their own immaturity and their own desire to continue with the high school drama.  It's scary growing up, so it's easier not to.

Over the course of the past few months, my daughter's friend has severed many friendships.  My daughter's friend has said many times that she's left the high school drama behind her and is a mature adult.  Many times.  Many, many times.  To the point where one begins to suspect maybe the only person she's trying to convince is herself.

I actually experienced the same exact situation when I went off to college.

One of my best friends and I went away to college together.  A couple of weeks into classes she became so homesick and overwhelmed with the work load and with having to do things for herself that she quit.  She moved back home, but I stayed.

On going home to visit, it became obvious to me that she was still stuck in high school.  Her treatment of me was confusing.  She was angry and belligerent and petty.  Frankly, it was very hurtful.  What had I done?

Then it dawned on me.  I had grown.  I was moving on.

She was "stuck" in the same podunk town, in a dead end job, and didn't see any way out.  After many attempts at rebuilding the friendship and failing, I realized that our friendship was irrevocably damaged.  The problem was my friend would see me and how I had made new and different friends and I was doing new and exciting things and learning new and different things, and it just reinforced her perception that she was a failure.  Until she figured out the problem was within herself, there was nothing I could do.

I had reached the point where I didn't want to do anything more for our friendship.  I was tired of trying to make our friendship work.  I was tired of being made to feel as if the whole breakdown of our friendship was my fault because I chose to stay in college.

I've heard of her now and again, and she seems to have turned out OK.  Perhaps she was just someone that was content to stay in our hometown and raise her family.  And there's nothing wrong with that.

But I wanted more.  I wanted to see the world.  Go places and do things.  And I did.

And my daughter will too.

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