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There’s currently a TikTok trend going around that dubs Selena Gomez’s 2020 record People You Know as the song of 2023. While most of the time TikTok trends shouldn’t be taken as direct facts, every now and then they are representative of some underlying social understanding and in this particular case, I believe it shows itself as a representation of what people, as a collective, have felt in 2023.

Dwelling into the song’s lyrics, the song’s chorus (arguably the most sticky part) goes along the lines of:

We used to be close, but people can go

From people you know to people you don't

And what hurts the most is people can go

From people you know to people you don't

According to an interview with Apple Music, Gomez said the hook of the chorus, the first phrase, came randomly through a friend’s friend but it was so perfect it stuck. Gomez said, “Everyone goes through that, you know? You go through seasons, people are meant to be in your life for some, and others, they’re not. I hated change, I mean, I kinda still do. But every time I’m on the other side, I’m like “Ugh, thank you for that one, I needed that.” And she couldn’t be more right.

There’s a couple life theories, metaphors, or trains of thought that explore this concept. The theory of Life’s Seasons — like Gomez — presents that life is seasonal, people are meant to be in it for some time, then leave. The metaphor of the Tapestry of Life says that our lives are an intricate tapestry made of joy, pain, experiences and people; and just like tapestries, some colors, threads or weaves last longer than others, but at the end, they all matter.

My personal favorite refers to a much less intellectual or deep persona, but in no means less relevant, Nanny McPhee. In her movies, McPhee has a phrase that goes: “When you need me, but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go.”

When we look into it, more than just a clever and somewhat witty way to deem her work is done, McPhee’s phrase conveys a nostalgic, yet reassuring feeling that a need, purpose, and growth in our life has been met, reached, and achieved. The phrase itself presents that sometimes there are people or situations that come into our lives to teach us, mentor us, make us grow, make us change, discover something about ourselves or understand something about our lives and when that is eventually done, they must go. The lesson has been learned, the growth has been grown. While there is nothing wrong on these people sticking around, more often than less it leads to nothing other than just superficial company. The purpose of the relationship and cosmic intertwining has been fulfilled, thus, the parties must part ways.

Parting ways with someone we held great value for is always going to be something painful, bitter, and hurtful. But understanding that perhaps we’re parting ways with someone who taught us what they needed to teach us, gave us what they had to give us, or fulfilled the purpose they had to fulfill makes it less painful, a tad bittersweet and sore, rather than straight up painful.

Like Selena said, on the other side, most of the time we end up being grateful for what we went through — even if at the time we felt like it was the worse that could happen. Let’s just remember to value the time we have with those who we currently have, learn from everyone and be grateful to the people that go from people you know to people you don’t.


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