Growing Together Instead Of Apart: A Guide To High School Friendships

By Amaya Jackson & Nari Crabtree Only 5% of high school friendships remain friends into adulthood. Sometimes when you think you’ve found your lifelong friendship, high school throws you a curveball. Let Nari and Amaya share what they’ve learned on our journey to building a strong friendship.   Where It All Began Amaya: During October of […]

By Amaya Jackson & Nari Crabtree

Only 5% of high school friendships remain friends into adulthood. Sometimes when you think you’ve found your lifelong friendship, high school throws you a curveball. Let Nari and Amaya share what they’ve learned on our journey to building a strong friendship.  

Where It All Began

Amaya: During October of 2020, Nari and I started playing on the same soccer team. It took us months to discover we would both be going to CB starting in the fall. Nari was very opposed to leaving her friends behind, as they would all be attending the same public high school while Nari was starting fresh at a private school. On the other hand, I was ready to start somewhere new and excited to see what going to a private school would be like. We stayed close leading up to the first day of school, and as school started, we both made friends quickly. 

Nari: The summer before my freshman year at CB, I was absolutely dreading high school. I wanted to go to the high school where all my friends were going, and I went through the five stages of grief trying to cope with going to CB. Upon reflection, it’s possible I was a bit dramatic. But in 2020, I thought going to CB would ruin my life. I met Amaya when I joined her soccer team that summer, and when I found out she was going to CB, I latched onto her, desperate to know anyone before I started school. Little did I know, she would become one of the most important people in my life.

Finding The Right Friendship

Nari: The foundations of my early freshman year friendships were based on how many classes we had together or if we had similar hobbies. I found myself drifting more towards people who were taking my classes as I was able to easily relate to them since we already spent so much time together. As I went through freshman year, I learned more about myself and what was important to me in a friendship. I realized that the number of classes I had with certain people didn’t constitute a friendship. I learned that I value people who share similar values with me and with whom I can feel truly comfortable around. Learning this shifted me away from people freshman year with whom I thought would always be my friends. This is when I began to get close with Amaya. Amaya and I shared similar personal values and valued the same qualities in others. What made me and Amaya’s friendship work was that we had experienced unhealthy friendships and knew what we were looking for in healthy friendships. We both value loyalty and trust, and we quickly became best friends.

Amaya: For most of freshman year, I was close with people with whom I had things in common. When you see someone in class everyday or go play sports with them after school, it becomes really easy to be close with them. But the longer you are friends with a person, the more you learn about them. Freshman year is a huge period of growth. People change. As the year goes on, you will learn more about your friends and about yourself. You get deeper with people and learn the true roots of the type of person they are. Sometimes you have to learn everything about someone before realizing you need to let them go. 

So how did I know Nari was a friend to keep around? To be honest, it took a lot of unrelated changes for us to grow closer. As we learned more about each other, we realized we were similar in all the important ways. We don’t always agree on surface level things, but we realized basic interests truly don’t matter. We both understand the importance of working hard in school and aspire to do well in life. We both have goals and enjoy being supportive of one another. We know when and how to be honest without hurting the other’s feelings. There has never been jealousy in our friendship, and we both know how to genuinely care and support each other. Nari is a good friend because she knows me and puts in effort everyday to support me however it is I need her. Nari and I come from very different walks of life, but we both see each other for who we are. She is someone with whom I can share my life stories — judgment free — that made me who I am. And I try to provide the same support and respect for her. 

Nari: Being friends with someone doesn’t mean you have to always agree or have to like the same things. In fact, that is what makes me and Amaya such close friends. We both have very strong opinions and they aren’t always the same, but we have gotten to the point in our friendship where these differences don’t matter. We support each other in everything and are honest with each other (sometimes brutally so). Amaya has always been completely honest with me in our friendship, which has helped me through a lot during high school. Amaya was one of the first people I met at CB where there was zero competition. We really are just there for each other. I have never felt any jealousy in our friendship and I can genuinely say that I would trust Amaya with anything and everything going on in my life. Our friendship from freshman year to now has changed, and we have both grown a lot as people. Luckily for us, we grew together instead of apart. 

Long Distance High School Friendships

Nari: The biggest barrier to a friendship is the biggest test of a real friendship — going to different schools. One of my best friends since eighth grade goes to a different high school than me. We don’t see each other very much, so how did I know she was a friend worth fighting for? 

She never made me feel like we would drift apart. 

We both put time into texting each other almost every day. We update each other on the drama going on at our different schools. The biggest indicator of a friendship worth fighting for is effort. No matter what happens in life, the amount of effort a person puts into their relationship with you determines the trajectory of your friendship. My best friend from another school and I put so much effort into keeping in contact and hanging out that it never really feels like we’re apart. I will never know what it is like to go to high school with my “long distance” friend, but I’ll never feel like she’s missing from my high school experience — and that’s how I know this is a friend worth fighting for.

Friendships While Dating 

Amaya: Friends come first. 

Until they don’t. 

63% of high schoolers will date at some point. You or your friends may be part of that 63%. I personally have been on both sides of this equation: the friend of someone in a relationship and the one managing a friendship while in a relationship. Dating makes it very easy to lose a friendship. It takes both friends to be understanding and gracious with one another during this new phase. During this time, your friendship will go through a major change — it’s important to communicate.

As the friend of someone in the relationship, you are responsible for being supportive of your friend. You may not always like the person they are with and you may be frustrated you now have to share your time with your friend’s significant other. But you have to put that all aside. I’d suggest giving your friend a three month pass. The first three months or so of a relationship can be very exciting. Allow your friend to experience this time and try to be patient with them. If they are a true friend, they will find their way back around. After about three months or so, have a talk with your friend. Let them know you miss them and would like to spend more time together. Plan something. If this behavior continues, I’d suggest taking a step back and finding new friendships. Don’t stay where you are not valued or wanted. 

If you happen to find a special someone in high school, allow yourself to experience it, but don’t forget about your friends. It’s normal to want to be with your significant other a lot of the time, but it’s not healthy to make that person your only friend. Make an effort to be with your friends as often as possible. You can even switch off weekends — one weekend for your friends, one for your significant other. Find balance. Thank your friends for being understanding. It’s going to be an adjustment, but never forget the people who were there first. 

Remember your time in high school is so short. Be open to all friendships and allow them to change  as you grow. Put effort into the friendships you want to keep around and be kind when it’s time to let a friendship go.

Friendship Breakups 

Amaya: As life changes throughout high school, it is natural for your relationships to change as well. No matter how close you might be with your friend, life happens. Where do you draw the line? When do you decide your friend is no longer your friend? 

Well, that’s up to you. A friendship is a two-way street, and you get to choose what friendship means to you. If your friend’s life changes or you begin to become distant, remember to give your friend some grace and allow them to adjust to the changes. After giving some time, you should have a conversation with your friend. Let them know what you’re feeling and what changes you’d like to see in your friendship. This gives your friend the chance to decide what type of friend they’d like to be for you. You may get your friendship back or you may need to take a break. Friendship changes just as life does, and you may have periods of time where you are closer or more distant from your friend. This is completely normal, especially throughout high school. 

If or when you lose a friendship, let it go with grace. Losing someone you were once very close with is hard. Remember your friend is figuring out life just as you are. It hurts to miss someone, but do not allow that to create issues. High school is short. Don’t waste your energy being mad or having problems with someone. For your own good, let go. Let your ex-friend grow and be their own person and focus on finding new people to fill your life. 

So When Is A Friendship Worth Fighting For?

Nari: If a friendship is truly worth fighting for, there should never really be a question to stay. Any doubt that a friendship is worth your time and energy is proof that it isn’t. If you are truly questioning why you are friends with a person, that is a sign to stop and examine your priorities. Is your friendship with them a priority to you? Does this person make you a priority? I truly believe that a healthy friendship requires you both to mutually prioritize each other. Taylor Swift said it best: “Putting someone first only works when you’re in their top five.” If you and your friend don’t prioritize each other or if the priority is one-sided, the friendship is not worth it. 

But we’ve been friends for so long. Who will I hangout with if we stop being friends?”

This is something I’ve heard a lot of people say when considering a friend breakup. It can be a really difficult process to initiate and experience a friendship breakup. But if it is meant to be, everything will work itself out. 

Amaya: Amen.

Nari: I have learned from experience that life goes on after a friend breakup. If someone is not contributing anything positive to your life or is causing you a lot of frustration, there is no reason to hold on to this person. Leaving a toxic friendship can make your high school experience more enjoyable and may even lead to you meeting your true friends. Letting go of someone who brings you pain is the only way you will experience happiness. 

Sometimes a friendship breakup isn’t a big, dramatic deal. Sometimes you grow apart from a person and you both accept it. Sometimes you drift apart due to uncontrollable circumstances. The things that happen in high school either have the potential to bring people closer together or tear them apart. Surviving the ups and downs of high school is a true test of friendship and not everyone passes this test. It is important to accept that some friends aren’t meant to be your best friends. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still be friendly with this person. It is important to, if possible, end a friendship with no beef (unlike Drake and Kendrick). Things happen, and blame can never be placed on one person in these complicated situations. 

Nari: High school has a great way of exposing the fake friends!

Amaya: Real friendships won’t be threatened by high school. You will change. Your friends will change. But when you genuinely care for someone, you will make it work. 

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Written by Talon Staff