My high school prom was held the day after graduation, back in 2009. It was one final hurrah, before we all went our separate ways. You know, all those cliché phrases.
If I’m honest, I would’ve rather been at home watching the NHL Draft that night. I’m not one for parties. But not going to prom felt too much like being a rebel without a cause. So, of course I went.
The time came where it was acceptable to start leaving. So I jumped at the opportunity and left. My dad picked me up.
I remember leaving the banquet hall knowing it would be the last time I saw most of the people in it. I said goodbye to a few people, nothing too sentimental, and walked out.
Don’t get me wrong, I had some great friends in high school, but there wasn’t any feeling in me that said, “Oh man, you’re really going to miss this.”
I wasn’t sure why that was.
Fast forward four years later to my final day of university.
I wrote my final exam in the morning and spent the next 14 hours hanging out with friends who had become family to me over the years.
All of a sudden, 2AM rolled around and everyone was gone. It was just me, wandering around an empty campus, letting tears roll down my face. It was over.
It was the most bittersweet day of my life.
I had all these people who had become a part of me. When I defined myself, they were in the definition. And all of a sudden, they weren’t even in the same dictionary.
Sure, we could stay in touch via text message or Facebook. And yeah, we could have our reunions and go places together. But it would never be the same.
It would never be all of us in the same place at the same time, ever again. That’s why I was crying.
I wasn’t ready to let it go because these people had brought out the best in me and I was scared that when I moved back home, there’d be a void in my life. That there would be a piece of me missing.
As the weeks turned into months and the months into years, the friendships I had built at school slowly slipped away from me. I don’t blame anyone. It’s hard keeping in touch with everyone.
And I’ll be honest, sometimes I don’t want to keep in touch. Not because I don’t care about the person anymore, but because I don’t know what to say.
I hate putting people on the spot and asking them what they’re up to, because I know they’ll ask me the same thing and my answer probably won’t be as impressive. How’s that for honesty?
So I keep a distance, hoping that my birthday wishes on social media, coupled with a “Hope all is well” is enough to show that I still care. And in between birthdays, hopefully a “like” on their Instagram photos send that message.
Sad, right? But I doubt I’m the only one.
Subconsciously, I think I started filling the void of not having my school friends with me, by becoming friends with bloggers.
There’s no physical attachment with bloggers – in the sense that we won’t eat lunch together and then go walk around, before sitting in a lounge and laughing. All just to do it again tomorrow.
There is no smile to miss. There is no laugh to never hear again. There is no company that was once there, that isn’t.
Here, there are just words.
That being said, whenever I really click with another blogger and we become friends outside of these WordPress walls, in the back of my head I’m always nervous that we’re going to run out of things to say to each other. That our friendship is going to end, just like others have.
Sad, right? Again, I doubt I’m the only one.
I remember one of the first weeks working at camp a few years ago and having a lot of fun with the staff. And then it hit me like, “Man, this is all going to be broken apart in less than two months.”
I blame my last day of university for all of this – this habit of me looking into the future and knowing that the good times don’t last forever.
I’ve come to the realization that people will come in and out of my life, forever. They may stay one day; they may stay fifty years. But no matter what, they all contribute to who I am.
You can’t replace people; you shouldn’t even try. You can’t replace the memories, with new memories you make with others. They won’t compare.
On July 6th, I deactivated my Facebook account. I don’t know if I have a definitive answer as to why I did. I just know it felt like the right time to do it.
I didn’t get Facebook until the summer between my last year of high school and first year of university. It was July 12, 2009, if you want a specific date.
You know how I remember that? I was going to my university for orientation day on July 15th and had been reading the incoming students Facebook group, where everyone was saying what dorm they were in, and I thought, hey I want to do that too.
I got Facebook. I never posted in the group. It was too intimidating. Facebook was too intimidating.
I remember someone posted on my Facebook wall and I asked a friend where I was supposed to respond to them. Was I supposed to post the reply on my wall or theirs? They replied with, “Seriously? Lol”
Thanks for the help!
Fortunately, I posted my reply on their wall, instead of accidentally making a status update of my reply to them. It was all very confusing.
This is what people were begging me to get in high school?
This is what people dressed up as for Halloween?
I knew I was in trouble when a few months later, I would sign out of Facebook to start doing school work, and then found myself signing back in 10 minutes later. I was hooked.
Hey, Facebook is great for what it is. It was a great outlet for me to post creative thoughts before I had this blog. It was great for communicating with friends at school. It was great for many other reasons.
I could even return to it someday.
But for now, it got to a point where my list of friends didn’t reflect the people who were actually in my life. At the end of last year, I started unfriending people. I had never done it before and actually felt a bit guilty.
I went person by person and could remember a bunch of things about them and our friendship that no longer existed.
Listen, there are only 24 hours in a day for me to care about anything. I’m not going to spend even a minute worrying about what Johnny Calculator from Grade 9 math is up to.
I’m not that curious. I don’t need it. I don’t need to compare. I’m tired of comparing. We’ve been comparing ourselves to others since Kindergarten. Except, back then, it was about who came to school with the best snack.
When you don’t talk to someone for six years, what is that? Is that a friendship? By Facebook’s standards, it is. But if Facebook didn’t exist, it’s not. It is not a friendship.
And that’s where the world of social media gets weird.
Because I can sit here today and say that by me “liking” someone’s Instagram photo, and by them “liking” mine, that we are friends. And yet, we never speak to each other.
It’s weird, is it not?
I was tired of Facebook. I didn’t have a purpose for it anymore. I didn’t need it to post pictures. I didn’t need it to write words.
I just wanted to disappear from a social world that did nothing but remind me of how long it’s been since I’ve spoken to everyone on my “friend list”.
By the way, your official “friend list” is the one that exists in your head. The ones on social media are greatly exaggerated.
All this brings me to this past weekend. Myself and three friends from school went on a road trip to watch a hockey game in Ottawa. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.
The 4.5 hour drive there was nothing but stories and laughter. I didn’t stop laughing the whole way there. My cheeks hurt, my vocal chords were sore, and my “ribs” were in distress.
That set the tone for the entire weekend. It was just great being around these people again. They’re the kind of friends who I can go months without talking to, but as soon as we see each other, we snap right back into where we left off.
I first met them in my second year of university. I thank God every day and twice on Fridays that I decided to return to residence for my second year. It scares me to think of what my life would be like if I hadn’t.
The individuals living on my floor that year changed my life.
This is why I’m so certain that people are put in our life for a reason. I am proof.
As people get older, you hear them say that it’s all about quality and not quantity, when it comes to friends. Maybe we should tell young people that.
Maybe we should tell them that just because someone has 800 more friends than them on Facebook, doesn’t mean they aren’t cool.
Heck, “cool” isn’t even a thing that exists, really.
We all talk about “the cool kids at school”. What exactly made them cool? If they were so cool, why didn’t we want to be friends with them?
“Cool” is just a word that creates a fake hierarchy. It is a word that allows insecure people to distance themselves from the words “lame” and “nerd” for fear that no one will like them, or worse, add them as a friend on Facebook.
I’ve gone all over the place in this post, but I think everything is connected, so it’s fine.
I want to end with a quote from a book I read earlier this year. The book is called, Hockey Towns, by Ron MacLean.
“Life really is about collecting people you like to be around, and when you come across them, you don’t take them for granted. If you want them to remain in your life, you’ve got to make an effort to keep them in your life.”