Friends. You can’t live with them; you can’t live without them. I guess you can say that about people in general, too. But with friends, it has a special meaning.
The way one changes his circle as he moves up (or down) in life tells a lot about that person’s character. Then again, sometimes people just move apart due to unforeseen, and often unavoidable, circumstances.
It’s been five years and change since I started classes in IBA. I have been five different individuals since then, if not more. I suppose I have had five sets of friends since then, too.
The M Stands for Magic
The magical nature of college friendships is that they are full of possibilities. You bond over the most random things. Four of us bonded over Star Wars. Another four of us tried our hand with startups because we liked creating presentations.
As we grow up, however, it becomes apparent that not all possibilities are created equal. We choose some over others.
After school, everyone went along their separate ways.
All of a sudden, it seemed like friendship was much more malleable, and much more commoditized.
People treat you differently when you are an entry level employee. It’s not just the work pressure, it’s the idea that you are disposable. People prioritized friendships and relationships, and sometimes, they chose poorly. I chose poorly too, sometimes. I kept contact with close people, even as I forged new relationships. But it just wasn’t the same.
“I think people chase career goals and money because they’re more tangible and easily measured,” said Mark Manson, the writer of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, in a Forbes interview. “It’s easy to know if your bank account is growing or not. It’s easy to know whether you’re moving up in your industry or not. It’s not easy to know if your relationship with your mother has improved or if your friendships are better this year than they were last year. These are very subjective things, and as a result, I think our ambitions drift towards the more tangible, and thus, often superficial.”
I reconnected with a friend during an event last July. People were much more selfish now, she said. Everyone seemed colder and more materialistic. I concurred. I probably was like that too, in some way. But I was fighting hard to hold onto the good things of my past.
As we grew older, we also became kinder in some ways.
We became more understanding, or at least more tolerant of each other. However, some of us drew lines in the sand. And sometimes, those lines became battle lines.
Friendships are, perhaps, like contractual relationships. Some of focus on the spirit of the contract, while others focus on the wording. There are a few levels of friendships, and it hurts when you realise that some people are climbing down to lower levels.
You Need All Kinds of Friends
It’s easier for some people to lose friends, because they only maintain low-effort, high quantity friend networks. They know everyone and their mothers, but nobody knows anything significant about them. They feel, at best, superficial, and at worst, empty of higher meaning. On the flipside of the coin, you have people who only maintain high level friendships, because they are naturally shy and hold on to the few deep friendships they have made over the years. People need a natural mix of both kind of friendships in life. It doesn’t work if you tilt your life too much in either direction.
We are too ready to sacrifice friendships because, perhaps, we never stopped and thought how important they were, how magical some friendships actually are. Sometimes, we took this magic for granted, and thought that it would last forever.
But we were adults now. The magic was gone, and the toil, scars and ugliness remained.
Rediscovering Witchcraft and Wizardry
As adults, you either accept that your life is mundane, and take relationships as they come to you. Or you go looking for that magic again, and greet it, as some kind of amateur sorcerer.
I found new people in the last two years, and in some cases, the magic we created was better and stronger. But you never forget the serendipitous nature of college friendships. That moment you ditched class together to hang out in Dhanmondi, or hitched a ride to campus on the hostel bus.
But those memories are lost, like Rutger Hauer and his tears in the rain, because we stopped believing in that magic and settled for the mundanity of life.
I ask them to not lose hope. Trade back mundanity for magic. Life doesn’t have to be hard all the time. You don’t have to be strong all the time. Your friends are there to make things easier, as you are there to do the same for them.
Farewell, old friends, here’s to hoping we meet each other again as new people, and perhaps, new sorcerers.