Growing Pains


Reflections of a college kid, whose childhood friends are oftentimes nowhere to be found.

My childhood was a millimeter away from perfect. Though I did not realize it then, a little bit of heartbreak mixed with gallons of adventure made my budding years unforgettable; not one revocable moment. Most of these moments were composed of time with loving family, experiences of revelation as I was learning about the world around me, and escapades with my age mates that made this giant world seem conquerable. Prior to the world of overbearing professors and nagging boyfriends, we were free even though we were restrained by the oversight of our parents. The boundaries of the world would not dare cage us.

Then middle school arrived in all its glory (dumb dumb dumb!) What an awkward stage; the moment where we burst from our cute shells and became teenagers. Acne creams, tampons, sports bras, deodorant and other once foreign objects became essentials. Our bodies were transforming into those of women and our counterparts were starting to look more like men. It was a rite-of-passage when someone ditched their glasses for contact lenses or changed their haircut from ‘after school special’ approved to that of Seventeen chic. Junior high was that interface where experimenting was cool, changing our musical taste and redefining ourselves daily was habitual, surveying our world and hopefully becoming more socially keen was expected and realizing our preferences were what we least expected became normal.

Then high school rolled around and we were gridlocked. Categories became relevant all of a sudden and friends who we shared our lives with became strangers. How did this happen? We were just talking about how high school would not change us over the summer. Months pass without speaking to your former partner-in-crime and your mother asks the awkward question: “Whatever happened to {insert name here}? They never call or come over like they used to.” You sink into deeper loneliness after she verbalizes what you feel every time you see this person. What happen? Did I change? The questions haunt you and you wonder how you got to this point, several years ago you were inspecting the neighborhood together on your Huffy bicycles and now you can barely have a conversation with this person. Let’s face it, you both changed.

In my case, my parents encouraged me to focus on my schoolwork. While some friends were out partying and wasting time, I was forced to worry about my future. It got to the point where the only thing on my mind was getting into a good school and making a difference in the world. The last thing on my mind was having a life. How much of a life could I have without a car? By the end of the four years, all of us could drive, most of us could vote, and some of us were on the brink of something new and exciting. I then experienced another period of shedding.  The subtle jealousy and exclusive behavior of my peers made me realize who my friends were. In other words I left high school with one true friend remaining. Not to my surprise, my college friends had similar stories.

Some of you reading probably think I am really sad or hard to get along with. Nonetheless, as we get taller and curvier our minds also change, hopefully for the better. In the end many of us who started at the same place, end up miles away from each other with no common ground to relate on. Though it’s unfortunate, it is part of the growing pains that we must endure to better ourselves and our future.

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  • I think about this a lot. I moved around a lot as a kid(like 10 different schools) so I never really had a lot of life long friends anyway. Then I moved away at 18 and haven’t been back in close to five years. I wonder if I’ll still have anything in common with my old friends or even my family? I feel like we’ve all changed so much, where’s the common ground?

  • I feel the same way, especially when I switched schools in 10th grade and then moved to a new state for 11th and 12th. Now I’m in college and wondering if I even fit into a group of friends anywhere anymore. I’m truly only close to my sister, brother, and boyfriend.

  • Soul Glo

    This is SO my story. Went through that early teen phase with friends promising we’d all be pals, but different people ended up having different priorities and we all changed (and I guess grew up).

    A visit to the motherland (aka family in Africa) opened my eyes, and I realised how mature I was compared to my friends at that age. Coming back to school at that time, I realised how different we were.

    They were all getting into boys (not that I didn’t have eyes, lol – I just wasn’t OTT about it) and overexcited about wearing thongs (which in my eyes was immature – people it’s just underwear SMH) and I wasn’t.

    Factor in the feeling of loneliness from a cultural aspect (being the only black girl in a predominantly white school) I had never felt till then, and boy, it sucked.

    High school – did not like the social construct of having to fit into a particular group so majorly floated and didn’t really belong to one group. Focused real hard in school, ended up being the class president and valedictorian and having other roles of responsibility – cue jealousy and haters (lmao, don’t usually use the word – but trust – it’s necessary here). Similar to the author of this article, I only have one friend I am in close contact with from these formative years – we are about to celebrate 16 years of our friendship next month!

    Anyways (excuse my essay peeps!) all I ended up working hard for in high school has paid off. Am currently a freshman in one of the top unis in the country, with more like-minded and similar people than I could have met at high school. Don’t think I’ll have much in common with my HS classmates but that’s alright – it’s part of life. If I had one piece of advice for any teens going through all this teen angst stuff it’s this: don’t sweat it. You probably won’t keep in contact with 80% of them anyways. You’ll know who your true friends are in the end and those will be the ones you’ll want to keep!

    ps. I looove Clutch Mag and this article was on point!

    Much love,

  • jubilee

    I think girls are the cliquiest people around—long time ago, like in 5th grade, everyone is very friendly but later, they start to clique up and leave you out. My daughter is going through that now–most of her good girlfriends who were cute in 5th grade are getting into some kind of trouble now and she is feeling rather lonely. she concentrates on schoolwork and is a straight A student. Its really sad though; my mom,when she was alive, never had these problems with friends

  • AnonyMiss

    I consider myself to be very fortunate because I have managed to maintain close relationships with friends I met in elementary school despite now living two states away. It’s tough but I do go back to my home state frequently enough that I can and we’ve been through so much together that no matter what we will always have this special bond.

    There are also friends who I’ve lost pretty much lost all contact with and its due to the fact that we now have very different views on life and very different goals.