Activated - - NEWS - Elsa Sichrovsky is a free­lance writer. She lives with her fam­ily in Tai­wan. By Elsa Sichrovsky

Vanessa waved at me as the doors shut, and I watched the train whisk away a friend­ship of six years. Vanessa and I had met in ju­nior high school, and our com­mon in­ter­est in writ­ing sto­ries and shared taste in nov­els had started an un­break­able friend­ship that had lasted through all the highs and lows of our teenage years. Now she’d won a schol­ar­ship and was go­ing abroad to pur­sue her de­gree, leav­ing me to try to fig­ure out how to go on de­spite feel­ing like her de­par­ture had pulled the bot­tom out from un­der my life. Of course, I’d al­ways known that one day we’d both leave home and go our sep­a­rate ways, but now that it was ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing, I was crest­fallen.

Dur­ing the first few weeks af­ter her de­par­ture, Vanessa’s ab­sence awak­ened me to how much I had de­pended on her. In­stead of spend­ing time with many dif­fer­ent friends, I’d stayed in the safe zone with Vanessa and a few of our com­mon friends. It was eas­ier to adopt the views of some­one so lik­able and in­tel­li­gent as Vanessa than to come up with my own views on ev­ery­thing. For ex­am­ple, I al­ways fol­lowed Vanessa’s opin­ions about which books to read or what movies to watch.

While be­ing staunchly loyal wasn’t a bad thing, I re­al­ized that I’d been re­luc­tant to take the per­sonal risk of mak­ing up my own mind and chart­ing my own path. Though I ad­mired Vanessa’s courage to leave her fa­mil­iar sur­round­ings and pur­sue her dream, I was also ter­ri­fied at the thought of go­ing through the emo­tional tur­bu­lence that comes with reach­ing adult­hood with­out the as­sur­ance of my best friend’s val­i­da­tion and emo­tional sup­port.

Vanessa and I kept in con­tact for the first year or so, but nat­u­rally grew apart as time went by. Back then, hav­ing my hopes to pre­serve our friend­ship crum­ble away was heart­break­ing. Yet look­ing back, it’s clear Vanessa’s mov­ing out of my life gave an im­pe­tus to my per­sonal growth.

I was forced to meet new friends, to make mis­takes, and then pull my­self up to stand again on my own two feet. Not be­ing able to ask for her ad­vice about ev­ery­thing made me search my heart more and con­tem­plate is­sues for my­self. Though at the time I felt lonely and aban­doned, I un­der­stand now what Faraaz Kazi wrote about friend­ship: “Some peo­ple are go­ing to leave, but that’s not the end of your story. That’s the end of their part in your story.”

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