It’s no lie that life has its joys and its despairs, and commonly mixed in each are relationships. Some are ones that you hold dear to your heart, others not so much. However, each relationship has a purpose in your life – each person that walks in and out do so for a higher cause. And of course, it’s ultimately our job to figure out if that person was supposed to stay for the rest of our story or if they were just a chapter in our epic novel. However, I’m going to let you in on a little secret – you are allowed to outgrow people. You are allowed to outgrow relationships that no longer serve you or your life’s purpose - which can be a fairly simple concept, but one that’s personally taken me and women I know ages to figure out. As women, we’re typically always terrified to hurt someone’s feelings. So much so, that we end up sticking it out in relationships (including friendships) that were more damaging than they were positive. So, what do we do when we realize that someone of whom we once loved has become someone we barely tolerate? How do we move away from the people who don’t fit into our lives anymore? Do we do it slowly? Or should it be like pulling a band-aid off?
As a 20 something young woman trying to navigate through relationships like the captain of the Titanic, I used to think that things only ended when they turned ugly (you know like directly hitting an iceberg), that relationships are only over when someone is no longer being respectful or committed. For me, relationships had to become intolerably annihilative before someone even made the first move to leave. But it never really occurred to me that people could just move on from relationships. That you could simply outgrow them because you changed. What I’ve learned from experience (and counselors) is that it’s perfectly normal (and acceptable) to grow apart from someone. Maybe even lots of someones. Think about all the moments that have shaped you and your life. Chances are, who you are now is different from who you were even a few years ago. We’re always evolving and changing. To live is to change. Nobody stays the same and this applies to everyone in your life. But if I’ve learned anything in the deep dives of my relationships, it’s that the people who matter the most can be measured by the trust and loyalty you two have developed. The truth is we outgrow those who don’t appreciate us. Those who are okay with our absence. Those who allow the distance between us and them to grow. We outgrow those who make us feel like we’re replaceable. And that’s okay. No code says every person you come across is destined to stay in your life forever and ever. Very, very few people will stay with you throughout your time here on Earth. This is not because you are too flawed to love, and it’s not because every relationship you have is destined to ultimately break down - this is because of change.
Life as we know it is contingent, subject to metamorphosis. It’s the one thing that makes living so damn beautiful. Movement is the train that gives you a tour of the sunlight you would never have experienced if you didn’t show up for the departure. It takes the willingness to travel to reach beautifully enriched destinations, and it takes knowing that amending our environment, or ourselves, is sometimes the only way to get us from point A to point B. Growth has no limits, and as disappointing as it can be, we can never accurately assume how much something is going to sprout; all we can do it nourish it in the meantime. So, when the time comes and you are questioning if a person is meant to stay in your life or not, the best thing that you can do is listen to your gut. That subtle voice inside of your head that talks to you every day is the one thing that you should trust without measure. Relationships end when they are meant to end. They are over when they need to be over. You are not meant for the people who leave you, you are not always at fault for the people who have left, and you are not broken for those who have faded into the distance. Embracing the ebb and flow of life, and the impermanence of it all is the way you will learn to love people when you have them and be grateful for them when you don’t. Every person comes into your life for a reason, even if their stay is short.
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