By Emma Whitaker | Broadcast Reporter
High school graduation came at just the right time. By the time senior year ended, I was so exhausted I did not have mental capacity to be sentimental. All my mind could envision was moving on — I wanted to know God better. I wanted to be known. I became involved in a community that was more life giving than my wildest dreams could believe possible.
However, the forever dilemma of life is how to keep up with old friends as seasons change. My high school friends were a part of me. In our graduating class of 30 students, I knew everyone’s handwriting like it was my own. We knew each others’ moms. We knew each others’ cousins.
Some of my friends went to the same college as me. At first I loved it, but then the situation started to sadden me. These friends that I once knew so well were now involved in different clubs, different sororities, and different churches than I. Where I once saw them three times a day, I now began to see them only three times a year. It didn’t bother me that we were involved in different activities. It bothered me that time was passing and my people did not know the new me. While I had become a completely different person, I felt like all they saw was high school Emma. How do I communicate this change within me? How do you convey your heart’s new passions in one single coffee-date conversation?
While my musings must sound a little existential, I’m sure we all struggle with the juxtaposition of our old and new identities. Sometimes when I see my high school friends, I just want to say the word “sorry.” It’s not that I’m guilty of a crime or anything. I’m just sorry I allowed life to pass by without them. I’m sorry they experienced new seasons without me. I’m a little sorry time moved on so quickly.
Therefore, these are my three essential tips for your high school friends.
First, do not approach them focused on yourself. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to see the changes of seasons from their perspective. If you feel like something is different relationally, do not take it personally. Try to understand what’s underneath the surface of their conversational smile.
Secondly, take your past memories seriously. While I might not have appreciated the end of senior year at the time, I look back on those long moments before the bell with absolute fondness. I share something with my high school friends that I cannot share with anyone else: the past.
Lastly, love your friends unconditionally. Because at the end of the day, we all need grace. It’s hard to grow up. Becoming who you want to be in a long and tedious process. I cannot say I have done a good job with keeping up with my high school friends. I regret it immensely. Today is a new day for me, and hopefully for many others, to put aside past insecurities and regrets and see my high school friends as more than just their high school selves. I love them for them — past, present, and future.