People will always cycle in and out of your life. The “revolving” door metaphor that we so heavily rely on in order to understand our changing relationships has remained relevant because of our widespread acknowledgment of its truth. Relationships change and people come and go, and as one who enjoys analyzing the habits of the communities I live in, it seems only fitting I share the observations I have gathered.

Our world has become immune to relationships changing all the time. We go through “seasons” of being close with some people before eventually falling out of that community. This has led to the failure to commit; that is to really, truly commit to maintaining a level of knowledge about a person and his or her life. We should reject this passive, “that’s how things go” mindset, and instead, express an adamant and sincere effort to keep relationships strong. It’s impossible to do with everyone, and of course, that is to be expected.

But when we run into that old friend and say, “Wow, it has been so long! We should grab lunch soon!” Do we ever actually do that? If it has become a consistent habit to never follow through, is it because we are relying on the belief that we have lost touch with enough people in our past? And will it matter whether or not we make the effort now? When we say that we wish to see that person, are we also reminding ourselves that it likely won’t happen?

A few weeks may go by and you think to yourself: “I would have liked to see that person.” Maybe you could have cleared that window of time, but it didn’t happen. Those months become years, and soon you wonder what ever happened to the person you had seen so long ago on the sidewalk.

Maybe it’s just that a majority of our relationships lack substance, so it seems the shallow level of our friendships or relationships is just one more unavoidable fate and we lose touch simply because of that. I’m admittedly a victim of this mindset, and it has resulted in a consistent form of neglect.

Just a few days ago, my professor reminded me of the importance of maintaining these ties. He said: “We declare our priorities most in our use of our time.”

How we choose to use our time is among one of the few things we can actually control, and it reveals the quality of our relationships and our willingness to continually invest in them.

He went on to explain that if you walk around saying to people, “I care so much about you or I love you, but I am too busy,” then you’ve made your priorities abundantly clear.

Writing this as someone who was once told by a former boyfriend he was just too “busy” to date me, it seems appropriate to also address what implications these habits carry. Let’s get out of this ridiculous mindset that relationships should exist when it is convenient. The excuse you use today will change to something else tomorrow. By using the easy escape of claiming you’re “too busy,” you’re inexplicitly stating what matters most to you.

My point is that generally, people are always in and out of our lives — and many of those people we lose unwillingly. Sickness strikes and takes away a loved one. Friends move away. Family ties weaken. Relationships, platonic or not, fall apart.

In light of knowing people are going to leave, why not make more of an effort now to sustain the bonds with others when it is possible to do so? It takes tremendous effort and sacrifice, which I’m not convinced we are always willing to contribute to others.

Whether it is college, or wherever you go beyond this place, make sure you are aware of how you are investing in your relationships. If you prioritize such efforts, whether convenient or not, you’ll reap the benefits of relationships that are long lasting and persist even through the ever-changing circumstances of your life.  

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