Beyond the Pages: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!




 The book that inspired this conversation:


Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
(my thoughts to come closer to the release date)
(Goodreads | Amazon)


What It Is About:

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…”

What It Got Me Thinking About:

friendships & relationships, identity in relationships and how it gets so intertwined in them, finding your identity, being brave (even though I’m not going to talk about that in this post..maybe another?)

Image1fdsfIn Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson Emily’s best friend Sloane just takes off and leaves. To Emily, Sloane was the best part of her. They’d been BFFs for a couple years and they did everything together. When Sloane leaves, Emily is left feeling like a huge part of her is missing, rightly so, and she really has to find out who she is outside of Sloane. She finds herself struggling to do things like fill conversations because Sloane always was the outgoing one who knew what to say and she found it was hard to really so anything without Sloane by her side because Sloane gave her some of the bravery she seemed to lack. Especially since most people really only knew her as “that girl that’s always with Sloane.” She’s forgotten who she is outside of “Emily and Sloane” and has really let herself rely on Sloane’s presence for her identity.

It made me reflect on how EASY it is to get your identity so intertwined and entangled with people close to you and that you love. So much that you start to forget who you are apart from them. That happened to me with my old group of friends and I watched it happen to so many friends as they started dating and then getting married. While I don’t think Emily’s situation was necessarily unhealthy like maybe mine was, it still made me think a lot about defining who we are by who we are close with. It was enough that, when Sloane left, she realized she had no idea how to BE Emily anymore. Sloane had helped her find who she was and gotten her out of her shell but she struggled to exist apart from that.

I was friends with the same group of people from high school and then some of them even went to the same college as me and then the group came back together after we all were done college — adding in some new people that were part of our group in college who had stayed around the area. I’d say I was one of the “main” people in that group — a staple..not an outlier really if that makes sense. I loved that group of people and there was so many good times with them but I slowly started to realize I lost myself within that group. I was definitely the “different” one out of all of them and they seemed to be okay with that but I realized, in ways, they didn’t and slowly a lot of who I was slowly got snuffed out.

I remember making some new friends outside of the group and then they would say things about these new people that would make me feel like I was stupid for being friends with them yet I had FUN with these people, had great convo and had things in common. They made fun of my music. How I dressed. The guys I liked unless they were semi in the group. But it wasn’t outright mean or malicious, I’m sure it was mostly good-natured, but I kept toning things down to fit inside that group. I wanted to. I wanted to maintain being a part of that group because on campus it always seemed like our group, a group of mostly guys but a few girls, always had the most fun. I cared more about being part of that group at the time than I cared about some of those things that I gave up or pushed aside at that time — opinions, values, interests and hobbies.

I remember not knowing who to sit with if they weren’t there in the dining hall (most of them were on the men and women’s soccer team which is hilar because I’m like the least athletic person ever) and felt super timid. Or if they were all away for the weekend on a soccer trip I felt lost. I felt invincible in ways when I had the group with me. I had people. Most of my interests and plans were wrapped up in that group. I mean, I DID have other friends outside of that group and talked to A LOT of people but I never made these people a priority like I did this group. I let myself just get swallowed up by the group. Absorbed the way they thought, what they liked, how they acted, etc.

But then I started to miss those parts of me. I started to see behaviors that I didn’t actually enjoy anymore. I missed friends that I had given up for them. I was just frankly sick of a lot of things and had been hurt by some of the people and found some of it to be really unhealthy. There’s a lot more that went into it that could take me hours to tell you, and Gayle Forman’s Just One Day that honestly gave me the balls to do it, but I gave that group up slowly in 2012 but FOR REAL in January 2013. I decided to sever ties and be done. I had to…for myself. It was the right decision and I know that and I’ve even been able to be at peace about it and make amends with my bff from that group. But it was HARD.

It was like a limb had been cut off. All those instant plans…GONE. People to talk to. Years and years of memories just kind of faded. I was scared to have to make new friends because those people had known every single thing about me and knew all the things I had been through. It was easy in ways. But I was mostly scared because I knew I would have to get to know myself all over again. To remember who I was. To do the things I wanted to without group approval. Blogging, when I started in 2010, honestly was a huge catalyst in this because I found a community where I could be 100% unabashedly myself and it became the support I needed when I left the group. Made me believe in myself and help me to remember what I loved about ME and find who I was again. I had to be brave and take chances and sometimes even be uncomfortable but every time it got easier and I stopped caring about being anybody other than who I was. I let myself form my own opinions, enjoy the things I enjoyed before & now felt drawn to, become the person that was just struggling to come out in that time. It’s been scary and hard but I’ve enjoyed getting to really know myself all over again.

I saw so many friends do this in romantic relationships and regret it sometimes later and this is what I love about Will and I from day 1. We just have never done this. We are so strongly ourselves and have our own very unique identity but there is this beautiful way in which we ARE a unit. We love the things that make each other different from the other (okay I don’t LOVE the video games and he doesn’t LOVE the books but we love that we have THINGS to help us always be ourselves). I mean, sure, I would LOVE for Will to love more of the things I do and ditch a few of his interests in an ideal world but I would never want him to stop being him and lose himself. I stated this early on to Will, before we got married, that I never ever wanted to lose myself in a marriage because I saw it happen to people close to me. I never want to forget who I am.

And I think we’ve done a good job so far of encouraging each other to have our own things and to be our own people in this relationship. Never forgetting that yes we’ve become “one” in marriage but we are two hella different people with dreams and interests and opinions. And we deal with it just fine.

Will is definitely my other half  and a big part of my world but I feel absolutely a whole person whose identity isn’t just in being “Jamie and Will” but I stand strongly just as Jamie and he stands strongly as Will. And I think we make each other stronger and our marriage stronger because of that.

I just know that I don’t ever want to lose myself again in another person or group. Ever. I’d rather be alone than bend myself into something I’m not. To push away the things that make me ME. I never ever want to forget or ignore who I am. Because I rather like being me.


Have you ever experienced losing your identity in someone else? Witnessed a friend or family member do it? If so, how did you find yourself again? Any other thoughts on this?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. This was such a beautiful post. Though I haven’t personally experienced this, I’ve seen some of my friends lose themselves in other people, and as their friend it’s painful for me to see this. Sometimes it’s a vicious cycle, like hopping from one friend/boyfriend to another, always changing accordingly. Your story is so inspiring for many lost people to be who they are and find other people, real friends, who accept them for that. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Yeah it’s hard sometimes! You just get so close to people and depend on them for happiness and things to do and for an identity until you realize you don’t even really know who you are anymore! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

  2. I dated a guy that I wanted to change who I was and become more of what he wanted or was looking for. Oh goodness, looking back that was a horrible decision on my part. After the relationship ended – and NOT on a good note… I had to find myself all over again. It was hard for me… But I had learned a valuable lesson because of it.

    • Thanks for sharing that! It’s so easy in a romantic relationship to do that unfortunately 🙁 but you probably came out stronger and with a better sense of who you were at least!

  3. So seriously, this is the greatest post ever. I love this. It is so true how we tend to unconsciously change who we are when we start hanging around other people. I remember back in HS that I literally changed the way I talked sometimes when I was around certain people. I wasn’t myself and I think part of the reason was that I didn’t know who I was. But now I have gotten a lot better. I have gotten to know myself and I’m happy with who I am. I don’t try to pretend I’m somebody I’m not (although I’m sure there are still times where I tone some things down around certain people w/o even realizing it). It’s so important to be yourself because (this sounds cheesy, but idc) there’s only one you. And that’s pretty special. Great post! <3

    • Yes I think that not knowing who you are to begin with makes it easy to let yourself get lost in other people. I think that was a little bit of my issue in ways. Like in some ways I really knew who I was and was confident but there were other ways where it was opposite so it was easier to cling to that group.

  4. Fantastic post, Jamie. I’m reading Since You’ve Been Gone right now and feeling so many of the same things you’re feeling. I don’t know if I ever lost myself in someone else’s identity – maybe in my first real romantic relationship? I’ve seen that happen to myself and other friends…but I’ve been lucky that we’ve mostly all gotten out of it.

    That said, unlike you, I never felt like a real part of anyone’s group until college – I had to re-invent myself in college after having the toxic friendships in high school, but luckily, I was really far away for school…and I remember how scary and how freeing it was at first to try to fit in…and then to try to just be me. And then I had to do it again after college when everyone went away. It’s so rough. I totally know how you feel about the instant plans! It feels like a total loss, and it’s so hard to give up being comfortable somewhere.

    For me, I feel like it was worth it to find out about my true self and what I love – I suppressed my YA-book loving self for years because I was embarrassed. Weirdly, it was actually during my MA in English that I figured out that there was merit to the things I was reading “on the side” that weren’t “real literature” – and that was such a big relief for me. I could stop hiding.

    I don’t think that was me losing my identity in friends…but maybe in other people’s opinions? Sometimes that happens more than I’d like to admit….

    Sorry, this went way off track. But thank you for this post – I feel like it’s hard to talk about issues in books without spoilers, but you’ve nailed it here.

  5. I recently stopped talking to my best friend of 6 years and let me tell you when I lost her it was like I didn’t know how to function without her. Even now, months later, I still think of her everyday. Which is sad because I’m pretty sure I never cross her mind. But I definitely want to read this book after reading your review because I feel like I can relate to the subject matter.

  6. I related so much to this post! I felt like I lost myself a little when I started college and when I stopped being friends with certain people, I had no idea who I was. It took some soul-searching, some anger and some sadness to figure it all out but I think I’ve learned a lot from the experience and it’s allowed me to grow as a person. There’s a great quote, “Belonging is one of the things that makes life bearable, and it can be tough to look at a binary world and choose against both sides,” from Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree and I love it so much, but at the same time, being in a group can sometimes become our identity. We erase parts of ourselves. Thanks so much for this post!

  7. When it comes to friends, I’ve learned that they can be seasonal, and that’s okay. I also think it’s a rarity to have a life-long-friend, and something I truly admire in other people. We all change and grow as we get older, so of course your relationship with those friends will change and grow too. Some make it through the changes, while others drift off.

    In my 20s I tried desperately to remain friends with a group of girls I’d been close to since high school. But once our interests changed (they got married and had kids), it just became difficult. There weren’t any hard feelings, no “bad break up” occurred. We just realized that we weren’t the same people anymore. About once a year I get together with a few of these girls for dinner and we catch up on life. I look forward to these dinners because it’s still a way of staying in contact, but doesn’t have the pressure of struggling with a friendship that just isn’t what it was 10+ years ago.

    The fact that you and Will know now, this early in your marriage, the importance of keeping your identities in your marriage is a very, very good sign, Jamie. You’ll be better to each other for discovering this gift now, xoxo.

  8. I really liked this post, Jamie! I have thought about this many times, especially as it has happened to many of my friends when they get into romantic relationships. I’ve been very lucky, as Macky and I too have never had that problem. Our identities are separate from one another, even though there are definitely things that we both share too. I love that you brought this subject up for your Beyond the Pages post, as it really is worth thinking about.