Tuesday, June 18, 2013
I had a discussion the other day with a friend of mine about getting older, and about how one of the hardest things about aging might just be figuring out how to navigate friendships as lives change and people grow and move forward. I've thought about the idea of friendship a lot- it's a topic that's been on my mind often over the past couple of years and for good reason; I think the shift in relationships as we figure our own selves out is fascinating.
Growing up I'm sure I was like a lot of you, always surrounded by people, busy busy busy- my friends were my world. Ups and downs, my friends were the ones I went to, vented to, made a part of my everyday life. And as I got older I started to distinguish between the different kinds of friends I had formed relationships with. There were school friends, "best" friends (a term I sorely overused), work friends, sorority friends, party friends. And one of the things I really learned over the course of 10 years in my 20s was that it's okay that not all of these groups of people are my closest friends, and really, spreading myself so thin caused me to never give 100% to anyone.
And the most recent revelation- no relationship will ever fit into a box. Just because I have an idea of how something should be, doesn't mean that it should be that way, or will be that way. The kinds of friendships I had at 16, 18, 22...those are now just not possible. I don't have the time to sit and talk on the phone for an hour, or see the people I love a few times a week. I wish I did, but when I do have a free hour so many other things need to fill it- household duties, writing, emails. And so with these life changes my friendships have changed and in turn, become redefined.
This was hard for me to understand for awhile- I used to get sad that I felt so disconnected from certain people, and often felt guilty that I wasn't being a great friend. So many things change relationships- an infinite amount of things- and part of accepting that things wouldn't always be the same was accepting that I was changing too.
It's a weird thing, growing up.
And now at 31 I have a very small handful of people I consider close friends. And that's okay. A few I talk to daily, via text or a phone call here and there. Then there are the handful I might not talk to every week or even every month, but there is never weirdness. We all accept that our lives our busy, and there is no guilt, no resentment, we are happy to spend time together when we can, and all there is is love for one another when we do get to connect. And I think this is the secret to successful friendships, at least for me- the idea of quality of quantity. Of course I mean this in the obvious sense- one great friend over five not-so-great ones- but even more so in time spent. Sure, I might only get to see a close friend once every six months, but when we do get to spend time together, that time is precious and wonderful and so full of US. Less time, but BETTER time.
So that's what friendship is for me right now. Making the most of what we have. Trying to do the best we can, and when we do get to connect, making sure that time is of the best quality. Accepting this, and each other, for the very separate lives we all lead, and knowing that just because we aren't able to see each other as much as we'd like doesn't mean that it has to change the way we feel.
Whatever your age, where are you at right now in your friendships? Do you have a ton of solid pals you can count on for everything? Or a handful of close friends? Are you in yours 20s or 30s? How has friendship changed for you over time?
So many questions. Can't wait to read about your experiences.