Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s the high school friendships I swore I’d maintain fading into the distance as post-school life takes hold! Alas, university mathematics has become my only companion.

Sound familiar? Feeling like your closest friends from high school might just fade into nothingness is not uncommon.

For those who haven’t been through it already, it’s all too easy to let people we really love and care about fall by the wayside as we attempt to navigate a new life, at TAFE, university, or work. So how can we make sure familiar people we love don’t seem like strangers the next time we go to reach out or visit home?

Growing up after graduation and going onto uni, a gap year, work or whatever else is daunting, and not only because we are leaving the familiarity of high school. We also leave behind people who are our closest friends, who we may have been connected with for decades. Maintaining these friendships can be really hard but abandoning them altogether also isn’t the best option.

It’s not your fault if suddenly you realise you haven’t spoken to Sarah, the person you spent nearly every waking minute with in high school, in ages. But if you want to keep a solid friendship going, you have to put a bit of work in.

The most important thing to do is decide how you’re going to communicate with your school mates when you’re not being forced to spend hours together. Is texting the only way to keep track of your hectic lives? Should you Skype once a week and do an intense debrief on hook ups/your awful lecturer/your new skateboarding hobby? Is there a free day once a fortnight when you can go for lunch?

Once you’ve sorted the logistics, you’re more likely to reach out, and setting up set time-slots to hang out is another awesome way to stick to seeing each out. If you can commit to it, and not bail on your mates, you’ll realise it’s super easy to be friends without seeing each other every day.

But sometimes stuff just doesn’t happen. Your courses take up a lot of time, you make new friends at uni or you just drift apart. And it’s so important to remember we’re all trying to figure out how to manage life after high school. Feeling like your best mates are becoming strangers can be isolating, but know that as humans we grow and develop, and that’s okay. Try taking up a new hobby, volunteering at an animal shelter, joining a social club, or reaching out to services for help if it’s really getting you down.

The fact is, even important things like high school friendships are sometimes hard to hold on to, and all the best things take work. Growing up after high school is a wild ride and you’re going to lose people along the way. Don’t stress though, it happens to everyone and the people who do stick it out will be in it with you for the long haul. Hold onto those people who make the effort to make your friendship last, and let go of the ones who don’t.

by Hannah Worsley