The Complex Art of Letting Go
By Priyanka Sarkhel
I still remember the beginning of freshman year when I met my first best friend in high school. It was during gym class, and she came up to me and said, “I’m new here, and I don’t have anyone else to talk to, so I’ll just talk to you.” That day, I found out she lived in two different countries prior to the United States, a fact that intrigued me so much, I stayed for more.
It was easier back then to trust that every person I met and loved would stay the same way I stubbornly would. Throughout the past two years, however, it’s gotten so much more difficult, and getting to know me as a person has become a task many people cannot accomplish successfully. Back then, however, I was as vulnerable as a lamb. So it was incredibly easy for this girl, my former best friend, to weave herself into my life and stick there.
She was incredibly intelligent, beautiful, and charming, as in, everything I wished I could be. I wasn’t jealous of her, though. She became someone I admired instead of someone I envied, and I guess giving someone that kind of power more often than not leads to your own downfall.
The both of us shared passions, and our conversations consisted of heated debates, excitement, or a mixture of both. But we both shared the passion of reading the most, and it was through sharing book titles and words that we found out more about each other than we ever could by simply talking. She read way more than I did, though, and every couple of weeks, she would bombard me with a new title, with a new author, with a new story. I would do the same to her, except I would bombard her with my short stories, brief spurts of inspiration, and the rushed chicken scratch on a random piece of paper I wrote during a boring class instead of paying attention. I spoke with my writing, with my ideas, and she spoke with her memorable quotes and characters.
It was because of her that I was able to finish my first novel length work.
Throughout freshman year, we were inseparable.
In sophomore year, however, things changed. This is the part where she flourished in every possible way, and I slipped down into a seemingly unending chasm of restlessness and stagnancy. Depression spread through me like a parasite, and school became nothing more than a burden, a pain I had to endure for the rest of forever.
Nevertheless, I kept texting her (even though we had no classes or lunches together). Those texts stayed unread, my propositions to hang out together dried up and disappeared, and waiting for her to show up for the Skype call became way too tedious a task. I kept slipping into the background, and she kept stepping closer to the limelight. But I never hated her. Even now, when most of what we had is gone, I can never bring myself to resent her for using me up and leaving me behind. But that is my great, fundamental flaw: I let people back, no matter how much I need to let them go.
Truth is, she gave me a lot of my good qualities. I became a better person from being her friend. But here’s the uglier part of that truth: she also damned me to feeling disposable. Even then, I do not blame her. I blame myself.
I saw her yesterday talking to a boyfriend she never told me about, living a life I stopped being a part of. It was the salt in the wound, and it hurt.
It was also a wake up call.
She is happy. She doesn’t need to show me book titles, characters, and new authors to convey that to me anymore. I see it crystal clear in the way that she has moved on.
In all honesty, I am naive. See, she showed me what reality rearing its ugly head looks like, so maybe this whole debacle was not as depressing as I am making it out to be. People come and go, and life sure as hell loves to get in the way. Looking at her now, I cannot see the same person I used to share my writing with, nor the same girl who would jump with excitement whenever a new book came out. It’s been two years, and I am still stuck on the first chapter of a book that I’ve almost finished reading.
It’s junior year now, and I am not a freshman anymore.
Maybe letting go of someone does not have to be as complicated as it seems. People come and go, but they also change. She changed, but not for better or worse, but simply for the fact that life and its circumstances mold people differently.
Maybe it’s time for me to change too.