All Your Hometown Friends Changed, Now What?

Going to college is frightening on a multitude of levels, but one of the scariest aspects is knowing you’re not going to be around your high school best friends anymore.

Your high school friends have been there with you through everything. They helped you with your science project in the fourth grade, they showed you how to use a hair straightener in middle school, and they wiped your tears during your first real breakup as a freshman. They were the ones who knew to get you that new Coldplay CD for your birthday, the ones you experienced your first concert with, the ones you took your first sip of beer with, and the ones you laid down with under the stars to talk about how messed up this world can be.

They knew what made you tick, what made you nervous, what made you happy, and what made you sad. Their hearts were simply an extension of your own. They were your best friends for a reason.

But what happens when you come home from college and realize your best friends from high school have changed? One joined a sorority and is obsessed with her big (when she made fun of that kind of thing for years), one started working out (and can’t find anything else to talk about), and one has a newfound love for politics (and disagrees with you on everything– even though just last year you were in agreement).

It’s simple. You accept them.

You’re not supposed to stay in high school. If you were to go off to college and never change interests you’d be stuck with 17-year-old viewpoints forever – which, honestly, isn’t a good thing. Be proud that your friends are maturing, experiencing different lifestyles, and are becoming the women they want to be. You’re all growing up. Don’t end a friendship because “they’re different” or “they’ve changed.” Of course they have – and so have you.

Start a conversation. If something about them confuses you, ask them to explain. Maybe they decided Catholicism isn’t for them anymore despite their upbringing and now they are Buddhist. Maybe you don’t understand what that entails, so ask.

Be open to new viewpoints. Perhaps you and your high school best friend bonded over your love for politics. The two of you could spend hours discussing women in leadership roles and how you both couldn’t wait to cast your ballot for the Democratic Party. Now, though, she’s conservative and you don’t understand why she changed her mind. This is the time for you to accept that you have different views and continue having educated conversations, but this time with opposing ideas. There’s nothing wrong with having your own thoughts and learning something new. You might even – *gasp* – agree with her.

Be proud of them. A lot of major changes happen in your first year of college and some aren’t as simple as new political beliefs. Maybe your best friend from high school, the one who never gave relationships the time of day, comes home and she has a girlfriend. You just assumed she was straight in high school and that she didn’t care for the guys you grew up with. Be proud of her strength. Coming out to family and friends is one of the greatest struggles she’ll ever face. She accepts you and all of your heterosexual relationships, which haven’t always been the greatest. Do the same for her.

You were best friends in high school because you could trust each other, have fun together, and imagine with one another what life would be like outside of your tiny high school in the middle of nowhere. Your best friends, the ones who have been there since day one, remind you of who you are, where you come from, and your roots. On a fundamental level, you have a bond that’s not meant to be broken. Your best friends will be by your side during all of your changes in life– return the favor. Let the high school best friend love live on through your 20s, 30s, and beyond.