but outside of these familial relationships, rarely do two people maintain a relationship forever. and that isn't necessarily a bad thing, and i'm not saying it to be negative. part of growing up is moving on and letting go. and as much as we may want to hold on to a certain epoch - high school, college, 21 - forever, we can't. and there's nothing wrong with that. one of the most exciting things about life is how it is constantly changing and never knowing what's waiting around the next bend. but it's awfully hard to get to peek around that corner if we're afraid to take a step away from what is and anticipate the next big thing to come.
we outgrow our shoes and our pants, and we give them to good will and move along. why are we so afraid to admit that as we grow older, we outgrow relationships too? the people in our lives who bring us joy are not much different from those artfully faded jeans we clung to throughout high school. they give us weeks, months, years of comfort and consistency, but we can't always hold onto them forever. they teach us things we need to know about life and about ourselves, allow us to learn the lessons we need, and give us experiences we need to grow. but the relationship won't always grow with us. and that's when we face the real-life tragedy of outgrowing people.
it doesn't mean abandoning people we love. it doesn't mean tossing a friend into good will. it means accepting real life and understanding things don't last forever, but loving and cherishing them while we have them. and when it's time to move on, we take those memories and lessons learned and let them guide our paths to the next big thing. there's no shame in outgrowing people. it's a part of life. and the best thing we can do for ourselves is open our eyes when it happens, instead of clinging to the past in the hope that things will never change. because here's something important to know: things will always change. and that is a truly beautiful thing about life.
losing people is never easy. but reliving the same era over and over again isn't either. as time goes on, it gets harder to cling to those relationships and people as they fade quicker and quicker. it gets easier, though, to look fondly on those relationships with love and joy and gratitude. it's no one's fault that we have to grow up. it just is. our neverland fantasies have to die at a certain age, and it's just a part of life. the people we outgrow will never be insignificant. they will always remain a stepping stone and a part of us - just not a part of the present. there's something to be said for being a part of the past.
lately, i've come to realize the people i've outgrown and the relationships with expiration dates. and i was sad at first, but i can't be anymore. we had something wonderful while we had it, but it's evolved as many times as it could before finally meeting its end. and if i keep chasing after something that ended long ago, i'll never move forward. and the thing about moving forward? it's an adventure. going backward is easy - you've already been there, you know what will happen, there are no surprises. but what is a life without surprises? sure, some of them are scary surprises - monsters lurking around the bend - but i'd rather fall and scrape my knees a few times as i race forward than move backward into the safety of what's already done.
it's time to get up, move on, fly back from neverland, and admit that i've outgrown you.
but i will never forget what you've given me.
"growing up is never easy. you hold on to things that were. you wonder what's to come. but that night, i think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be. other days. new days. days to come. the thing is, we didn't have to hate each other for getting older. we just had to forgive ourselves...for growing up."
- the wonder years