I was struck by this quote by my friend and Darling contributor Katherine Wolf from her newly released book Hope Heals:

I imagine most of us have fairly straightforward pictures in our heads about what our lives will look like and who we’ll become. When something happens that is not inside the four corners of that picture we view it as a detour and hope to get back on track as quickly as possible. So what happens when you take a detour and can’t ever get back to the original picture?

Like many of you, I have an Amazon Prime account. My heart seems to skip a beat when my doorbell rings, dropping off another brown box. I find satisfaction in my constant consumerism and perhaps you do, too, but I also experience frustration. As my condo and especially my closet get more cluttered, the more frustrated and anxious I become. I’ve discovered the satisfaction I get from buying shiny, new things is fleeting and oftentimes, disappointing.

So, this year, my new motto is consume less and create more. I’ve set a stricter budget, am writing a book, taking a painting class and yes, even bought a grown-up coloring book.

An obsession with the female form has existed for centuries across different cultures and geographic regions. An over-obsession with the female form without regard to personhood is self-objectification. Most of us are familiar with the idea of men seeing women as objects through behaviors such as catcalling or engaging in pornography, but what about women objectifying themselves, and even each other?

Two researchers define the matter as “regular exposure to objectifying experiences that socialize girls and women to engage in self-objectification, whereby they come to internalize this view of themselves as an object or collection of body parts” (Kroon & Perez).

In short, self-objectification is thinking of oneself as an object first and a person second.

Haunted and heartbroken, I cried for an hour after reading Kate Fagan’s article “Split Image,” which revisits the life and death of Madison Holleran, a nineteen-year-old collegiate athlete who committed suicide. Her story was eerily similar to my own as an eighteen year old battling severe depression; I wanted to end my life. On the outside and on social media, Madison’s life looked near perfect.

Similarly, to onlookers I had everything going for me, but inside I was coming apart at the seams. I tried hard to make myself feel happy, to make myself feel worthy. Next to my white nightstand sat my stack of self-help books including, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens,” “The Power of Positive Thinking”, and my journal, where I purged my deepest thoughts and listed my big, lofty goals daily: to lose ten pounds, become a model, to get a full-ride scholarship for soccer.

Yet, shortly after I graduated sum cum lade from high school, I came undone. I cracked under the pressure to be perfect. Deep-seeded insecurity, stress, perfectionism, and grave hormonal and physiological imbalances collided, shattering my picture-perfect world into bits of broken pieces.

We all know that romantic relationships can come to end, but what about friendships? As we grow older and more distant from friends we used to hold dear, is it possible to end friendships in a healthy way? Life transitions such as moves, school, career changes, new relationships, and shifts in personal values and world-views are just a few of the things that can drive a wedge between friends.

All of these shifts are natural and even to be expected, however, knowing when we should fight to preserve a friendship and when it might be best to part ways can be difficult.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the ever-changing dynamics of friendships: