My World Wasn't Big Enough: Why I Had To Break Up With My Best Friend

by Sheena Sharma

It was the start of fall, which meant only one thing: change. I was looking forward to a change of dress, a change of schools, and a complete change of scenery.

It was my first day of college. High school was long gone; it was time to start over.

Friendless (yet fearless), I walked up to a girl standing in line at the cafeteria. Blonde and wide-eyed, she looked eager to be there. There was a certain energy about her, and I was immediately drawn to it.

We exchanged "hellos" and ended up talking for hours. Walking up to a stranger turned out to be one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made. That stranger ended up being my confidante, my best friend, and my other half for the next six years to come.

Eventually, though, it would end. And that would be my decision.

We did everything together -- the things that mattered and the things that didn’t.

We got our nails done and talked about boys. We complained about love and philosophized about life. We swore that someday we’d be each other’s maids of honor, and we swore we’d be best friends until we died.

She was there for me when I needed to cry and bitch. She challenged me in ways I wouldn’t otherwise have been challenged.

But she was also obstinate and relentless, short-fused and headstrong. It made her a passionate person to be around but a difficult best friend. And sometimes she was so fragile that you could practically see her insecurities.

A few months ago, we decided to go dancing in New York's Meatpacking District. A bartender struck up a conversation with me, but it just so happened that he had piqued her interest, too.

One flirty back-and-forth and a strong drink later, we both learned the verdict: He'd chosen me.

She shook me senseless, shoved me away and took him for herself. Her jealousy and possessiveness was a resounding blow, and it was the moment I stopped being her friend. That would be the last night I ever went out with my best friend.

I admired her tenacity in every way. But at the same time, I couldn’t stand to be around her. She was another version of me. And at that time in my life, I could barely stand to be around myself.

It had taken me years to realize I didn’t need another me in my life.

There were red flags, but I ignored them all. Family and friends warned me to stay away; they knew she wasn’t right for me before I could even see it myself. I might as well have been dating the "bad boy."

No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t stay away from the things that were the worst for me. I locked myself in a box of bad vibes and toxic relationships.

The night in the Meatpacking District was a turning point. I hadn't yet broken off our friendship, but I started to devote my energy to other people. They lifted me up instead of bringing me down.

As years pass us by, we don’t only get older -- we change. We learn to value our time differently. We outgrow the people we grew up with -- the ones who reflected our worst, most immature selves. They become obsolete in our journey to become our best selves.

A month ago, I sat my friend down and dumped her. It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, but I had to do it. It was a true breakup, like the ones I've had with boyfriends.

In fact, it might have even been worse. I realized the petty fights weren't sparks; they created simple drama. Mean words weren't "tough love"; they were just mean. And though friends are good at pulling each other away from creepy guys at bars, the guy in the Meatpacking District wasn't creepy, and she was straight-up cock-blocking.

Starting over is scary. It isn’t easy, either. If you let yourself, you can drown in the digital history you've created over the years.

Memories keep you two tethered. You feel allegiance to her. After all, she was there for you during your first breakup, your first horrible pixie cut, your one-million-and-one drunk cries…

But you met her when you didn’t know yourself.

Having one best friend is like being in an exclusive relationship: You’re technically allowed to see other people, but you almost feel guilty when you do.

When out with other friends, you think about how much more fun you’d be having if you were doing the same thing with her. When you're alone, you wish you were with her instead. She's the only one who can understand your ramblings and anxiety.

And once you lose that friend -- the girl who knew you before you found your flow -- you lose something else, too -- you lose part of yourself.

You're putting to bed the girl who lacked confidence. She fumbled through adolescence and took ages to find her rhythm. She thought that surrounding herself with people who were as misguided and lost as she was would ultimately save her.

In the end, our breakup wasn't about a boy at a bar. It was about a difference in character. Yes, sometimes I’ll see something on the street that reminds me of her and the laughs we once shared. But I no longer miss her -- and that’s how I know I made the right decision.

My world simply isn't big enough for the both of us.