As a young person friendship is everything. Fitting in seems like the most important thing and the thought of losing a friendship can seem world-ending.
As we grow and develop, it’s natural for us to change, and that can also be the same with our friends. For many of us, our teenage years are stressful times; not only do we face pressure from our peers, social media, our parents, exams, school, our future and society’s expectations, but we are also trying to find our feet in life. With all this additional pressure relationships can become strained, and this is especially so with young people.
The end of a friendship
For me the pressure of year 11 was the catalyst that broke my last friendship. During the end of year 11 I tried fitting in with other girls but they were never very nice and kept leaving me. That feeling of being completely alone, like I wasn’t good enough for anyone and no one wanted me, echoed feelings I had in my wider life and my mental health seemed to spiral.
At the time, everything seemed too much and like I was drowning. Looking back, I wish I could tell myself it wasn’t worth the sleepless nights and self-destruction. I wish I would have spoken to my school, spoken to my mum, reached out and asked for support. Sitting alone in the corner of the library and refusing to go to school wasn’t the answer. Self-destructing and taking it out on myself only hurt me.
That feeling of being completely alone, like I wasn’t good enough for anyone and no one wanted me, echoed feelings I had in my wider life.
It is so hard as at the time you can’t see the wood for the trees, as the saying goes. It seems all-consuming and like your life is over. When I lost this friendship, I began to hear rumours about me, which really hurt. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy for people to realise that as we grow and develop, we change and that’s okay. Sadly, the aftermath is often worse than the break-up. I didn’t handle it well.
What I wish I'd known
Looking back there is so much I wish I had done. I wish I had understood that school is not the only chance of making friends and that there would be other opportunities to make friends. Friendships change and people grow apart and that is okay – especially when you are young and growing and finding out about yourself and what you like and what you want to be. You will meet and be friends with people who later on won’t be people you want to spend time with, and the same will apply to yourself - that’s natural.
I wish I had understood that school is not the only chance of making friends and that there would be other opportunities to make friends.
It can help to accept that some friendships won’t last. But it is still so important to have support with the loss of a friendship. First of all, tell someone you trust and explain how you would like them to support you. You can’t force a friendship and if someone doesn’t want to be your friend you can’t make them, however speaking about it to someone can be helpful to get an independent opinion. Sometimes there isn’t a clear answer and nobody is to blame, and you just want someone to sit in the rubbish with you. And that’s okay – you don’t have to muddle on alone.
The friends you meet in school can seem like the most important people ever and you may feel like they’ll be your friends for life. Although for some that is the case, it won’t be for everyone. Many people make life-long friends in other places like college, sixth form, university, at work or in other areas of life.
Focussing on understanding and liking yourself, and being happy with who you are, is such a positive thing to do for yourself. After all, how can we expect people to like us if we don’t even like ourselves? So if you’re struggling with the loss of a friendship, focus on learning to love yourself, spend time on self-care and finding yourself. As clichéd as it may be, finding yourself and being happy in your own skin is so important.
If you’re struggling with the loss of a friendship, focus on learning to love yourself, spend time on self-care and finding yourself.
Losing a friend can be devastating, but please remember that a fresh start can sometimes be the making of a new beginning. A new friendship could be just around the corner; you just have to be willing to have a look.
Where to get help
If you are struggling with your mental health, you're not alone. For tips, advice and information on where you can get support with whatever you're going through, have a look at our find help pages.