Growing up is weird. It’s weird and many times, it doesn’t make much sense. How is Sarabeth from middle school getting married to a guy twice her age who she met on the Internet and I haven’t had a stable relationship in 4 years? Why do I keep developing more and more health problems? Can you become allergic to something new in your 20s?
I can’t answer any of those questions, but I can say one of the weirdest parts of getting “older” are the old-new friends.
What does that mean?
Remember when you were in high school and you were in a clique or you had a group of friends who you felt comfortable with, who you felt you could relate to? Are you still friends with those people now? It’s likely that you haven’t spoken to those people since graduation.
Have you spoken to anyone else from high school, though?
This strange phenomenon, the old-“new” friend, occurs when you reconnect with someone you knew at a different time, but did not get to know. Maybe you liked the person, but never made enough conversation. Maybe they were in a different clique than you or had different interests and you just didn’t end up as a guest to their birthday party.
Usually through social media, you can find a new connection with an old friend. I mean, you could run into them at a grocery store or something, too. I’ve noticed this happen in my life a number of times.
One person, who I had been friendly with in high school and never ended up becoming actual friends during high school, reached out to me when we were both stuck in our hometowns at one point. “Are you here? Let’s go on a hike together sometime,” she suggested.
Yet another person reconnected with me over facebook. With others, we have met for lunch and sometimes it doesn’t pan out. Sometimes we never see or speak again. Other times, we continue to hang out more and more. This change get together becomes a real friendship.
How cool is that?
It’s literally the best thing to happen in adulthood.
Okay, maybe meeting the love of your life is actually the best thing to happen in adulthood, but I’m not engaged, so I don’t know.
Making new friends out of old acquaintances is pretty bomb, though. Why is this better than a new-new friend?
1. You feel less alone.
High school and elementary school and all of that jazz was weird. You stuck to a group of people (or one person, or no one) and many times, it seemed difficult to connect with other people because we would force ourselves into these groups. Reconnecting with someone who was merely an acquaintance reminds you that other people are pretty cool and you may have had more potential friends during those times than you had realized.
2. You have shared experiences.
Whether you attended the same schools, worked the same job, or went to the same summer camp, you can reminisce with your old-new friend in a way that you could never do with someone you had just met. There’s always music and movies. I was just in Montreal yesterday singing “The Bad Touch” with four other people all from different countries. One was 6 years younger than me and we could still bond over strange, over-sexualized 90’s music.
With an old friend, though, you have shared acquaintances. You learn more about other people you didn’t get to know too well through them. Maybe you’ll all hang out at one point – you and some former acquaintances from whenever.
3. It’s like meeting a new person with less stress.
You already know a little bit about this person. It’s not even remotely weird to hang out in real life. In fact, it might be weirder to hang out with someone who you had a falling out with. This is not the case here. You know what they look like, their general temperament, what they were like in the past, and now you get to see how they’ve grown and changed. Many times, their new, more mature self will replace the vision you had of them as an immature teenager. It’s like getting a chance to connect with someone all over again in a fresh new way and that’s super cool.
4. It gives social media a purpose.
I still keep Facebook for a lot of reasons. For awhile, it created a lot of negative energy for me, but now it has turned a new leaf. Weirdly, I’ve noticed that social media tends to connect and disconnect people who otherwise did the opposite when they first met in real life. Are you who you truly are online or are you a version of yourself? How much do you lie about who you are in real life? Are you more genuine in person? These things can change a relationship very easily. Maybe you get more angry online or no one can pick up your sarcasm through typing. Maybe someone stalks you to no end online and learns things about you that you wouldn’t have revealed to them so soon otherwise.
I’m not sure how to deal with social media yet. How do we regulate it within our own lives in order to use it effectively? What can we do to be responsible, to know and love people in the best ways possible?
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