Friends are a dying breed. I think I've reached the point in my life where I'm meeting fewer and fewer people. I've been out of school for 6 years now, so the opportunities for meeting new people have significantly dwindled. In university, you could meet new people almost anywhere - in class, in the library, in the cafeteria, in residence, at the gym. You get the point. Then, "real life" kicks in, and if you're lucky, you will retain some of the people you met along the way as friends after graduating. Of course, it's always hard to retain friends after school ends. I've classified friendships as follows:
You hung out together because quite frankly, there was nobody else better to hang out with during class. These friends would be great for group assignments and study groups. Maybe you all even went out for nachos after exams to celebrate. But would you consider hanging out with these people in a non-school setting? Probably not.
Good Friends in Far Places
These are the people who you hung out with in a non-school setting. Unfortunately, these good friends moved away after graduation and your once-close friendship has dwindled into the occasional e-mail, instant message, or even annual Christmas/Thanksgiving/insert-holiday-here get-together where you catch up for a bit and then run out of things to say to each other. You live in different cities now, and your lives are so different that you find you don't have as much in common as you thought you did.
These friends are similar to Good Friends in Far Places in the sense that they're not just class buddies. Since they've stayed in town since graduation, you get together quite frequently - once a month or even once every couple of weeks. These friends might not be confidantes, but you share some good laughs every time you get together. Of course, you have to be careful with these friendships as well because they can easily turn into a Good Friends in Far Places relationship.
The Old Friend
I classify these as friends from grade school or high school. You've known them pretty much all your life and you can't even remember a time when you weren't friends. This can be total hit and miss. One might be led to believe that because you've been friends with a certain person for 10 years or more, the tendency is to stay friends forever. Unfortunately (or fortunately), people change. Your once-close high school friend may now be a perfect stranger to you. Different goals and career paths may have led to the divergence. Sometimes we still keep these friends for the sake of nostalgia, knowing that the friendship in its original form was probably over a long time ago. Other times, however, your friendship HAS managed to survive the test of time, which is priceless.
I guess if you sit and think about it too much, it can get depressing. The older we get, the tendency is to have fewer friends, not more. We're not exactly meeting new people every day - definitely not in the way we used to in school. Maybe even if we were meeting that many people, I think age makes us a bit more anti-social. I know that I myself am usually caught by surprise when somebody starts talking to me out of the blue and tend to shy away from such encounters. You can even see friends dwindle from your well-established clique of friends. As life goes on, friends move away, become less interesting to you (or you to them), or die (be it old age, freak accident, or some other cause, there's not much we can do there).
The point is, friendships come and go. It's always sad when a good friend is lost, but we can't dwell on it. What we can do is enjoy our friendships while they last, fight for the friendships worth keeping, be grateful for friendships we still have, and be open to starting new friendships.
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