For grades 7, 8 and 9 I went to an all girls private school and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Things weren’t always rainbows and lollipops, but those three years were mostly amazing. My friends were great, and the atmosphere of the school was very supportive, and everyone was a family. I went to a public elementary school before I went to the private school, and because my parents are in no way rich, I always knew that I would have to go back to public school for high school. I had a lot of friends in elementary school but I lost touch with them after a year, mostly because of this one very petty girl who is still petty now, but that’s another story.
I’ve been at public high school for a month, and at first I thought it was going to be great. I was going to reconnect with my old friends, I was going to get a boyfriend (boys are very much lacking at an all girls school), and I would slay with my new clothes. But, instead public high school was kind of culture shock for me. It’s crowded, and noisy, and almost everyone already has friends from junior high. People skip class for a smoke, so much effort is put into some girls’ appearances, teachers don’t trust you at all, and someone brought a gun to school and waved it in my face! (I am fine, it was not a personal attack towards me, and he has been arrested.)
Don’t get me wrong, I half expected this, and I love the diversity of sexual orientations, genders, and cultures that are at high school. It’s a welcome change from the Catholic, white, straight, all-girl school I went to. I also did reconnect with a lot of my old friends, and I have made a lot of new ones. The main thing is that I still miss the private school. I miss my friends, and I’m worried I’ll never have a friend group like them again. They all still go there, and I’m scared we’ll lose touch just like I did with my friends in elementary school, except this time I’ll never see them again. I still hang out with them on the weekends, but since school started we’ve all been hanging out less and less.
I miss hanging out with my best friend at school every day, and I wish I could share my public high school experience with her. I talk to her every night, and she is just as interested in it as I am.
Auntie, I’m terrified my relationships with my friends will end over time, and that I’ll never have a friend group that I’m completely comfortable with ever again. My heart aches every time I see a picture of them doing something that I used to do with them. I love them, and I miss them all so much that I cry sometimes. Will it ever get better?
Oh, Sparkler. Of course it will! That much, I can promise you.
That is, as long as by “better” you don’t mean “the same as they were in middle school.”
Because when you say that you’re worried that you won’t ever have a friend group like your middle school friend group again… well, that’s true. You won’t. Not because you are no longer capable of having close, comfortable friendships, but because you are no longer in middle school. Even if you stay in touch with some or all of those girls, your relationships with them will evolve and grow, because you yourselves are evolving and growing.
That’s not a bad thing, though! Because the friendships that lie ahead of you are going to be so good, and so rewarding. The life you build in your new school will eventually engage and excite you so that you don’t have to cling quite so hard to the one you used to have. And while you won’t stay friends with all the people you miss so much, you’ll find that this doesn’t feel like such a tragedy in practice as it does when you imagine it now. It’s sad, yes, but it’s also a natural, normal part of growing up—and it happens over time, in tandem with the arrival of new people in your life who you click with, who make you feel comfortable and complete. Some of the new friends you’ve made at your school will become incredibly precious to you within the next year or two, and some of your old friends will change in ways that make you wonder how you ever could have been so close. And of course, some friends will drift away from you only to come back into your life again, after a little while, or maybe even after a long time. (True story: Auntie SparkNotes went from a private middle school to a public high school, too, and I did lose touch with my middle school BFF, but ten years later, we got back in touch, and now she’s one of my closest friends. Life can be funny that way.)
None of which is to say that this process never involves heartache, or that there won’t be periods where you feel lonely and lost. You’ll probably have those, too, just because we all do. But even just based on the very little I know about you from your letter, I’m willing to bet that for you, those periods will be few and far between, because you are clearly a person who not only makes friends easily, but makes her friends feel loved and valued. Look how you’ve stayed connected to the people you care about most, and look how quickly you reconnected with the ones you’d lost touch with once before. Look how well you’ve weathered two major social shakeups, and come out ahead each time.
You’re doing so well already, Sparkler. And you’re going to be fine.
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