He was my best friend growing up.
We used to share everything.
Our toys, our ideas, our moments.
I would beg and cry to spend time with him.

But then we grew up.
And as we did, we became two different people.
He made friends with folks I could not relate to.
But he maintained that he hasn’t changed.

In fact, whenever we used to meet, which had become rarer over time, he would often say “tu badal gaya hai (you have changed)”

I questioned myself.
“Had I really changed?”
“Was I betraying him?”

There were a lot of moments I felt guilty, felt ashamed, felt embarrassed.
A lot of moments when I told myself that he must be right. Maybe I had indeed changed. Maybe I was hurting him.

One day, we were chatting and I was telling him about my IIT preparations.
He listened and then remarked “kya kar lega IIT jaakar? (What will you do even if you go to IIT?)”

And that’s when it hit me.
Yes, I had changed.
I had started to take my life seriously.

While he was still there.
Living in the past.

We drifted apart.

I have lost a lot of friends in my life.
None of them intentionally.
But all of them have a common pattern.

They wanted to continue living in the comfort zone of the past.
While I wanted to shape the future.

And that is when I realize – they weren’t friends all along. They were friends with an image of mine that I knew didn’t exist anymore.
They were friends with an identity that wasn’t mine anymore.
And if I lost them, I am not losing a friend.
I am making friends with a new me.