What Losing Friends Has Taught Me

By Gianna Pagano

My Sophomore year of college I met a girl and we instantly connected on so many levels. From that moment forward we became best friends and we were practically inseparable. We did everything together, and I literally mean everything. She was the person that I looked up to for advice on family, friendships, boyfriends, and even academics. Not only was she nice, but she was smart, loyal, spontaneous, hilarious, and most important, she always supported me whenever I needed her.

As we get older and mature into who we decide to become, we often grow out of friendships or lose touch with them. A lot of the times these falling outs can be completely unintentional. Whether we get busy with school, work, family, new relationships, or we simply just change, the truth is that this is just the reality of life. 

I’m sure many of you have experienced something similar, and you can relate that it isn’t easy. There was never an argument or a huge fight that ended our friendship, we simply had a falling out. The past few months have been extremely difficult for me, and I feel that both my friend and I have missed out on being there for each other for many important events.

Having a falling out with a close friend can be emotionally draining, so here are 5 recommendations that helped me and can help many others going through the same process:

Give yourself time to process your emotions and understand the situation

A breakup with a friend can be just as tough as a breakup with a significant other, and it is normal to experience a wide range of emotions. To cope with your emotions, start by giving yourself time to grieve and assess your feelings about the situation so you can come to terms with the reality of losing a friend. During grieving, ask yourself: Are our problems beyond repair? Did they do something unforgivable? What caused this to happen?

Since the breakup with my friend, I have experienced about every emotion possible. I initially tried to brush it off and pretend I did not care. However, as weeks turned into months, I realized I was genuinely hurt by the situation and I missed her. I experienced a range of emotions: jealousy, anger, disappointment, loneliness, and confusion. I cried, A LOT.

It is important to remember that it is okay to feel vulnerable during these situations. You might force yourself to hold in your emotions, but bottling up your feelings is not healthy and it is normal to cry it out. 

Look at the situation from their perspective

Everyone has flaws, even you. Try to be more self-aware and understand you might have been in the wrong too. If you both equally contributed to the falling out, then you cannot throw all the blame on them nor should you hold a grudge. It is better to ask yourself: Why did the friendship end? Should I have tried harder to maintain it? Remember, friendship is a two-way street and it takes two people to communicate.

You should take into consideration how they are feeling. When you lose a close friend, it is likely that they are also experiencing the same or similar emotions as you are. And guess what, she probably misses you just as much as you miss her.

Do NOT make your mutual friends choose a side

I cannot express this one enough. A good friend would NEVER try to put their other friends in an uncomfortable position by forcing them to take a side. This problem involves two people, and no one else. Your mutual friends might be hurting too because they’re conflicted and feel they now have to split their time. Making your friends choose a side will only cause more drama and could ultimately make you lose those friends too. 

When both of you are in the wrong, you must be mature and refrain from speaking negatively about them. In my situation, I know that the girl was and still is an amazing person, so I never could say anything bad about her. Talking crap to your mutual friends puts them in an even more difficult position, and frankly, it will make you look petty.

Make new friends

Moving on is never easy but making new friends can be when you put yourself out there. While you may think that no one will ever compare to your lost friend, surrounding yourself around different people can fill the void and offer you new friendship qualities. Evaluate which qualities you look for in a friendship, then find the courage to expose yourself to new people.

I used to struggle when it came to making friends, and when I was younger, I honestly did not have that many. After my falling out, I decided to put myself back out there because I was tired of feeling left out. I ended up meeting a few girls recently that welcomed me in with open arms and have since become people I could not imagine my life without.

And finally, reach out when you are ready

If you are as stubborn as I am, this will be the hardest part. This requires you to be the bigger person and to take initiative. If you realize that you still want them in your life, start by apologizing or reaching out. If the two of you are still unable to resolve your issues, then at least you know you did everything that you could.

I found myself reaching out many times during the first few months, but I eventually stopped because nothing was changing. We would agree that we both missed each other and wanted to resolve our issues, but after each time I reached out, I never heard from her again. It turned into a never-ending cycle and only caused me more pain. I finally had to accept that when she was ready, she would let me know. 

If the friendship was genuine, remember that this is only temporary. Eventually you will both come around and have the opportunity to discuss the situation, but for now it is going to take some distance. In the meantime, be patient, focus on yourself, and understand that sometimes people change.

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Expectation is a Curse, Unless it Isn’t

How often in our lives do we find ourselves over analyzing or even mourning the circumstances in our lives after some situation or, more often, some person doesn’t live up to our expectations? Then again, how fantastic is it to be in the middle of a moment that so far exceeds anything you could have imagined that you almost have to pinch yourself to make sure it’s real? For what it’s worth, these are universal human experiences because we are all blessed and cursed with the ability to imagine what we want and then to desire that it comes into our lives.

Since it is a universal human experience, it probably means it’s also a necessary part of the human experience and one that has contributed to our evolution in one way or another. Without expectation of reward, positive or negative, why do any of us leave our houses in the morning and face the day? It is because we have expectations that the day offers something new and amazing, or that it will at least move our lives forward. Hope, after all, is just another name for positive expectation.

The dictionary says that expectation is both A) “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future” and B) “a belief that someone will or should achieve something.” I think this perfectly captures the dilemma of expectation. Expectation is a belief about the future and a belief is not necessarily a truth, nor does is guarantee an outcome. Expectations are sort of like goals, except that people rarely put effort into the creation of expectations. A goal is a decision injected with purposeful action, whereas an expectation is an idea mixed with varying levels of conviction. For the most part, goals are actively pursued and expectations are passively accepted.  

I believe that the way people understand and manage expectation is a defining factor, if not the defining factor, in the quality of their lives. Expectation can act as a guide, allowing us to move through the world with some evolving hope about what we may encounter in the world. Otherwise, expectation can become a liability when they are rigid and inflexible, eventually dragging us down into a fog of disappointment.

This topic has been at the forefront of my mind because I just experienced a wildly challenging period in my life. One in which I have felt my motivation, focus, energy, and self-worth drain out of me through the cracks that appeared in my well-being during this time. These cracks and the collateral damage they created in my life were all caused, in their essence, by my expectations. More accurately, it was my relationship to my expectations that lead to all this difficulty.

For the better part of a year, I have been grappling with various expectations that I let become a prison cell around my life. This time taught me a lot about how powerful expectations can be when they become too inflexible. One of the nefarious qualities of expectation is that when we commit to them too strongly, the doors of opportunity to anything else slam shut. For me, I had created a scenario in my life based on the assumption that when people say they feel a certain way, they will behave a certain way. As I read that sentence now, I see how ridiculous it is because I know it’s completely untrue. But I believed so overwhelmingly in what I felt and how I expected things to turn out that any reasonable perspective was completely lost.

Because of this, I pushed for things to be a certain way despite a horde of circumstances that absolutely required flexibility. I spent every day wanting things to be a certain way and then felt progressively worse as each day passed and what I expected never came to pass. This made every part of my life difficult, making me question my motivations, my abilities, everything. Needless to say, I don’t recommend letting this happen in your life.

If we allow expectations to exist with some lightness in our lives, free to evolve with changing circumstances, instead of hurting us, they can buoy us when things get tough. Strong, heavy expectations keep your focus in the future instead of in the present moment.

Here’s the challenge with adjusting your expectations: when someone says they have low expectations, what is your initial reaction? You probably react with concern, confusion, or pity. But this reaction is a mistake. Having low expectations is not the same as having low ambition. It also doesn’t mean a loss of faith in people. Instead, it means being ready to let people and situations unfold naturally without the need to push for particular outcome. I’m not saying people should stop expecting others to treat them with respect or fulfill their responsibilities, but if expectations get set of everything and everyone around us, whose fault is it when these expectations are not met?

The only person anyone can or should expect things from is themself. While this might sound sad, this is actually a good thing. First, others WILL show up for us, even if sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. If there is a time in life when it seems like no one is there or expectations won’t be met, turn to oneself to get through it becomes an incredibly powerful and transformational moment.

This blog post is just me scratching the surface of a pretty intense topic. Changing the way we manage expectations isn’t something that happens overnight. We have to shift our mindset and that should be done thoughtfully and at our own pace. But it’s definitely worth it.

For a more clinical breakdown of this topic, check out this link.

Written by Chris Jambor

Friends: Reason, Season and Lifetime

Disclaimer : In third grade I had to write a book. My book was about a secret pencil. I think it was magic. In my book, which we had to read aloud in class, I loaned my magic pencil to one of my new friends. This did not go over well when my BFF listened to my story. She was probably mad at me for the rest of the day. In third grade, all day felt like an eternity. That being said, I will not use real names in case one of my friends reads this and refuses to talk to me until the end of the day.

Being a friend means so many things to many different people. Someone once shared a quote with me about the three types of friends.

“We have three types of friends in life: Friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a life time.”

Setting the stage; I live a nomadic lifestyle and one of the benefits is having friends scattered around the country. However, not all of these friends make it into the “friends for a lifetime” category.

For example, I shared an instantaneous connection with one friend, Sally. We were inseparable for about three months. Our friendship was so strong because of our personal situations and its convenience. When both of these variables changed, we stopped talking for a while and when we did talk, it was as though we had nothing in common. I had a hard time understanding why we started to fall apart. This is when a good friend of mine shared the quote with me. The quote allowed me to understand a little better. We were friends for a reason. We both needed someone to connect with during a frustrating time and it was easy for us to be there for each other.

Some friends are more seasonal. For example, these types of friends have a really good bond for one season, then the season changes and you are not really sure if you will see each other again. I spent a summer working with a group of really great individuals and had a lot of fun. We celebrated the fourth of July and threw a big party when the experience was over. They will always be good friends, and for that summer they were my best friends. However, when the summer ended the regular conversation starts to fade. I still know what they are up to, thanks to social media, but I don’t regularly connect and we may never hang out again.

Then, you’ve got the friends for a lifetime. They are the friends you have known for a while, or maybe only a couple years but the bond you share will last a lifetime. They are the friends that no matter how long it has been since you have spoken to each other, or have seen each other, you know they are always there and always will be. I am fortunate to feel like I have a lot of these friends. We may not see each other all of the time, or talk on the phone but we still chat every once and while. It is these friends that have become my sisters, brothers and maybe one day I will become an honorary aunt.
There is nothing I would do to trade the people I have met even if they are in my life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

Get Out of Your Own Way

All my life I have abided by this plan.  A plan involving a series of life goals to be completed in a particular order at a particular time with little variation.  I am very much a perfectionist – refusing to accept any standard short of perfection and breaking at the seams when things stray out of my control.  It is something that I found little fault in until I realized that it was actually getting in the way.

I grew up in Charlo, MT, a small town about an hour north of Missoula, MT.  You can verify this with my parents, but I believe I got off to a good start – not getting into a lot of trouble growing up, smiling for pictures, and eating my fruits and veggies.  Like most small-town kids, I was involved in a lot of school sanctioned activities.  I stayed busy spiking volleyballs, dribbling basketballs, or leaping over hurdles after school.  I was a part of several student groups aimed at developing various skills and helping the community – all while maintaining good grades.  I had the support of my family, the tight-knit community, and all the hours invested into me by my teachers and coaches.  When it came to my senior year of high school, I knew where and what I wanted to study before that notorious “last first day.” I was too proactive for my own good.  I filled out as many scholarships that came my way to ensure I could afford my college education without taking out loans or burdening my parents.  I received my high school diploma and was set to attend the University of Montana and study Marketing through the school of business administration in the Fall 2014.

Everything seemed to be going according to this meticulous plan I had my mind set on.

Although I know many non-traditionalists, adventurers, free spirts and the like that contest this idea entirely (and there is nothing wrong with that), I imagined my life following this ideal order in which I went to high school and graduated with good grades and big dreams for college.  I would start college the following fall with an idea of what you wanted to study and make a career out of.  I imagined meeting all kinds of people, growing as an individual, graduating 4+ years later, and stepping immediately into the ideal career the day after I receive my diploma.  To date, my life has followed this plan.  As I near the end of my college endeavors, I fully expected to make the later part regarding a career a reality.

Up until recently, I felt that I had to tailor my life to this rigid plan otherwise I wouldn’t succeed at getting where I want to be in my life.  I would fail myself, my family, and everything that had gotten me to this point.  I felt so constrained by this expectation I had put on myself to follow this plan exactly that the thought of not knowing exactly what I want to do with my life – let alone after college – was alarming.  As you can imagine this was a HUGE obstacle in my plan. I assured myself that I would figure it out.  I had to figure it out, but I was running out of time.  Quickly the seams of my sanity pulled further and further apart with each passing day.

I finally realized that it didn’t have to be this way at the source of many great epiphanies – a long car ride.

It all bubbled to the surface after spending a much needed four-day weekend away from Missoula.  On the ride home with my long-time boyfriend, we started talking about school and how we planned to turn our degrees into a career.  As the conversation progressed, I realized that I don’t honestly know what I want to do with my life, and I probably won’t find my ideal job right after college.

The more I thought about it, the more ludicrous this expectation seemed to me. Not only did I come to terms with that fact that it’s okay to not know exactly what I want to do, but how could I possibly know what I want to do for the rest of my life?  Why should I base the next 40-60+ years of my life on a mere 20 years of life experience and knowledge?  I was fed up with the preconceived idea that I had to stick to the plan.  I realized that it was unrealistic, and although it is a potentially suitable path, it is not the only path.  I finally committed myself to being less of a perfectionist and letting life take its course.

I don’t know exactly what I want to do and that’s okay – but I’m not going to stop trying to figure it out.  I want to be honest with myself and let go of the things I can’t control.  I want to search for opportunities to grow and become more of the person I want to be – whether that be job opportunities, painting, internships, traveling, volunteer opportunities, or voicing my thoughts in my first blog post.  I am a business student, but I don’t need a big corporation and paycheck for a satisfactory life.  I don’t want to get washed up in something to big.  I want to be purposeful and make an impact with the work I am passionate about.  I want to network with people not because “a bigger network makes you a better prospect” but because I want to have genuine relationships and get to know others who are finding or have found themselves to.  I want to be inspired by what I am doing.  I’ve realized that there is so much more to life than simply making money and living for the weekends.  If I want to accomplish these things, it is unlikely that I will get it all on the first try.  So, I need to stop thinking I will.

This is the type of realization that everyone seems to come to at some time in their life – a series of “mid-life crises.”  I have shared my quarterly life crisis in the hopes that it might inspire those of you that feel burdened by plans, expectations, social norms or whatever it might be to come to terms that sometimes it really doesn’t matter that much!  Even more so, I wrote this for myself – to hold myself accountable and remind myself to let go and live a little looser.

I will always plan, but I have made a pact with myself to not be tied down by it.  Someone once said, “Just because my path is different doesn’t mean I’m lost.”  I haven’t always believed this, but I’ve decided to start thinking this way.  Don’t be afraid to get lost occasionally and embrace your own journey.


Aspen Runkel is a student at the University of Montana pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration.  When she graduates in May of 2018, she will have majored in Marketing with a certificate in Digital Marketing and a minor in Media Arts.  She enjoys painting, cooking, DIY, and being active with sports, hiking, and traveling.

Say Productive again…. I dare you. I double dare you…

The traditional view of productivity that has been pounded into your head is so wrong.

You’re almost never “traditionally” productive. So stop freaking out. Honestly it sucks seeing how stressed people get about their work, even when they love it. Your real productivity will never be quantifiable in the “output over hours worked” model that businesses use. That has nothing to do with personal productivity! There is so much more to you being productive that whatever tangible output you accomplished today.

Do you find yourself dismayed when you have an idea, but can’t seem to put extra structure to it upon reflection? It’s a relatable feeling. We all want to see our ideas come to fruition, and are almost always willing to put in extra work. But even if you can’t… why are you upset? You had an IDEA! Do you understand how fucking cool that is? That’s abstract thought. That’s peak terrestrial consciousness. You came up with an electrical impulse that fucking meant something? WHAT? Just now thinking about how cool thoughts are my mind is being blown, and at one point you came up with one that had NEVER been thought before? You quite literally, momentarily, rival Einstein at that time. I want to be a writer, a philosopher, a marketer, a politician, a diplomat, an actor, a musician, and a whole host of other things. You want to know how many ideas I have a day? Like, good, content driving, possibly inspirational ideas? Two on a good day. And most of the time they are: what if I gave this character the ability to time travel, or should I write a blog about having ideas, or hot damn what if I put feta cheese on this pizza? Every once in awhile I hit gold though: one time I thought a short story about a species with four arms would be cool. Now I am working on creating a fictional Universe about an Earth-Like planet and a bunch of other weird stuff. That is how ideas work! Write them down! Think about them more than once! It really doesn’t matter at all if you can further anything about it right now, that idea was the most integral part of your soon to be creative process!

Want to really, really know why you’re almost never “traditionally” productive? You’re a living being! I don’t mean you engage in destructive habits to avoid productivity, you just have to spend most of your productivity being a person! Eating, sleeping, loving, showing, hiding, pooping, crying, aging, growing, eating again, you’re most important productive times occur when they are strictly for you. Without that, the rest of the shit doesn’t matter!

I do have some advice in terms of being productive, because I’m sure you didn’t click this to hear some hippie tell you that work isn’t the most important thing in life. I am and it’s not, but that’s not my point here. If you want some tangible advice, I have a few quick tips for you:

1. Eat slightly more than enough food on a day you hope to be productive. Just do it.

2. Find a flow process. There are an infinite number of structures out there, but only a few will work, but one will work wonders. How do you find it? Trial and error. Then perfect it. You will know once you’ve found it because holy shit all of a sudden you produced so much stuff and didn’t realize it was happening, how did you do that? Because you found out how you work, silly.

3. It’s impossible to be productive when your emotions aren’t playing the same game as you. Have a nice long talk with them. Go to a movie together. Eat some chocolate. It’s not about being happy, or content, it’s about being able to let yourself create or do.

4. Procrastinate. This might not make a lot of sense, but have you ever noticed you can, for some reason, write a seven page paper in an hour if its due the next day? That’s still productivity! I’m not saying you should procrastinate everything. In fact, it’s still best if you don’t. But it happens sometimes! So utilize that panic mode to get shit done!

5. Write so much down. Even one phrase notes about stupid ideas you had. They might be usable at some point.

6. Don’t listen to me. Like I said, I had an idea and rolled with it. It seems right to me, and damn I seem witty in this blog, but we are all different. I have no clue how you work, and for all you know I’m crazy.

There you have it. You’re doing fine. If you are feeling anxiety set in because things aren’t progressing as you saw them in your head, try to breathe, because you seriously crush it 24/7. 90% of your life grade comes from eating healthy and sleeping. I personally am proud of myself every time I cook breakfast. Because I know for a year it was coffee and cigarettes. Guess who got nothing done back then? *Points thumbs at self* this guy.

Stephen is a student at the University of Montana. He can’t come to the phone right now, please leave a message after the *beep*.