There is no easy way to say it: It is perfectly okay to outgrow people. In fact, we are meant to… at least, that is what I believe on the matter. Having to let go of friendships, accepting that people can grow apart, and moving forward into new unchartered territory…these developments are all a part of the journey, and quite frankly, they are necessary for your growth.
As I have gotten older, one of the hardest realizations I have had to accept is that not all friendships last a lifetime. We get new jobs, we change area codes, people start getting married, some will start to regress, life will get in the way, our priorities will change, and we will slowly, but surely, start to fade away from certain people. That is not to say the relationship/friendship was not beneficial to your journey. All the friendships we have formed over the years were meant to teach you something, and bring value to your life in one way or another. Just because you part ways with someone, does not mean that your friendship was not important at one point in your life. It just means that you both took different paths, and not looking back is the only way you will ever move forward.
I am by no means good at the skill of letting go of people. That is something I have struggled with doing for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until the age of 25 that I faced the truth of friendships coming to an unspoken end. The one thing I can say about it? It’s life. If all friendships were meant to last a lifetime, how would we ever find time for ourselves? How would we ever grow if we are always surrounded by the same ideas? Who we were in grade school, is NOT the person we are today, so why should we expect all friendships to stay the same? It just simply does not work like that. If we are growing as individuals, there will be at least one instance of outgrowing someone you were once growing with. At least.
Another important thing to remember? We are all progressing at different levels and different speeds. Period. For example, let’s say that you are on the fast track professionally, and doing well at your place of business. If there is someone in your life that tries to belittle your success due to their own insecurities, or, put down your accomplishments because they cannot see your vision for your life, maybe it’s best that you start to distance yourself from anything or anyone that brings you negativity. We need to be surrounding ourselves with people who congratulate our steps in the right direction, not because we are needing to be praised, but because support for one another will go much further than bringing each other down.
The complicated transition from young adult to adulthood is filled with so many important lessons to be learned. Letting go of people is one of the bigger ones we will have to accept because let’s be honest, holding on to the good memories is what makes letting go one of the toughest things to do. We can recall so many times where that relationship/friendship was once exactly what we needed. Just because you outgrow someone, does not mean that you must forget about all the positive times. Those were moments that shaped you into who you are today. My point is that we cannot let memories be the thing that keeps us tied to the past when we are meant to form new connections and grow into who we are. Losing people along the way is just a piece of that process.
One of the most profound quotes I have ever come across was once said by Confucius, “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.” I interpret this in a handful of ways, and it can most definitely be applied to the relationships we have with other people. How do we know if we have outgrown someone? If you ever feel like you are constantly giving, and never receiving; if you no longer have anything new to talk about; if you have drastic differences in tastes, opinions, and beliefs; if you find catching up with someone as more of an obligation rather than a want; if you feel you must keep your successes to yourself for fear of upsetting them; if you start to notice that someone is no longer progressing in the right direction…Trust me, you will know when you have outgrown someone, and to be honest? You most likely already do, you are just struggling to say it out loud.
Letting go of people is hard. I will not sugarcoat it in any way. BUT, and this is a big one, we cannot hold ourselves back because we feel bad for wanting to move forward in our lives. This is NOT something to ever feel bad about. The people that are meant to be in your life? It will be a mutual give and take kind of relationship that will be filled with support, growth, challenges, and resolutions. The only friendships and relationships that you should want to keep around are the ones that inspire you to be better than the you that you are right now. Find rooms that are filled with people much smarter than you, hold conversations with those that can point you in the right direction, and let go of anything or anyone who is keeping you from that.
Life is far too short to stunt your growth all because you feel bad about leaving anyone behind. Do NOT be afraid to OUTGROW people!
Thank you for reading. I appreciate you.