I moved cities more than two years ago now, and without a doubt, this move has been the best decision of my life so far. In Johannesburg, I have gained everything I was looking for and more. Independence, accomplishment, love, art, diversity, and family. It was the perfect place to start my journey from scratch after my divorce.

On the verge of my 32nd cycle around the sun, I seem to be having some profound reflections. I’ve realised that it is time for me to grow beyond the confines of who I used to know because I am no longer the version of myself I used to be.

I have changed.

When I was younger, I was sometimes criticised for having many groups of friends in different circles. For a long time, it seemed like you had to be stuck to a group and not move… for fear of betrayal. Isn’t it funny how high school rules follow us wherever we go? When we enter high school, we want to belong so badly. We want to form an identity, and we find that in a group.

I find it interesting that so many of us thirty-somethings seem to not want to grow beyond that.

And don’t get me wrong. I am, by no means, saying that those old, memory-filled friendships should end… but people change. Let’s be real. And that’s okay. We are ALLOWED to change. And there should be no guilt in that.

How many of us, if we met the people we met long ago, would still choose those friends now? It’s a tough question to ask, but it’s a real one. Is there still common ground beyond the years we knew each other as children? Are these people who lift you up and help you grow? Do they understand the version of yourself that you’re becoming?

Sometimes the pressures of old friendship sets an unrealistic demand on ourselves – a demand to never change or evolve. A lot of the time, people stay friends because it’s all they know, or because they’re afraid of putting themselves out there.

But what if the version of yourself that you are now needs something different than it used to need?

Guess what? That’s completely okay.

It doesn’t mean that the old friends you have mean nothing. They just satisfy a part of yourself from a different time.

We all become different people in some way, shape, or form. Especially if we’re focused on bettering ourselves. In the case of female friendships, we tend to feel overwhelmed when distance is created. We don’t know how to deal with something “ending”, especially when nothing is wrong.

And it’s not a failure on anyone’s part. It is just evolution. Nothing IS wrong. You’re just different than you used to be.

As we grow older, our journey expands to so much more than we anticipate. We have personal goals, family responsibilities, and work tasks, to name a few. Fitting in time for you, and you alone is already a difficulty. And selfishness is not a trait that is commonly lived by most people. We are inherently used to pleasing others before ourselves. And we sometimes expect that to be reciprocated. Expectations need to be lowered.

It’s okay to not have the emotional capacity to take on more than you are able to. And it’s okay to accept that about yourself. It’s okay to catch up when you have the capacity to, and you shouldn’t be penalised for not doing it on someone else’s terms. No love is lost; change is just the constant. Embrace it.

In my opinion, friendships should be picked up where things are left off. They should be low maintenance and kind. Friends are people we CHOOSE to be in our lives. It’s okay to have many friends on different levels. Because we are multifaceted individuals.

We will NEVER have all our needs met in one place by only a certain group of people. For example, I love debating politics and current affairs. But a lot of my friends are not that interested in it. I used to feel sad that I never got to have friendly, heated debates about things that I am passionate about. And I can’t always visit my family to get my fix of that. I sometimes want different opinions about these topics.

At work and through my writing network, however, I’ve met a people who love books, friendly debates, and have strong opinions on current affairs – just like me! And it fills my soul with so much joy.

I’ve realised that expanding your world means expanding your world view.

I miss the version of myself that embraced the new and made connections easily. Granted, I was sometimes in unhealthy spaces and couldn’t see whether someone was good for me or not, at times. But I am excited in the prospect of reinvesting in my surroundings and finding like-minded individuals that I can form bonds with. Now that I know how to do it healthily.