No one told me how much would change throughout early adulthood. Sure, I knew I’d face the everyday pressures of becoming the ideal “big girl.” Things that once felt so comforting like financial support from parents, sleeping in late, watching trash television shows now make me squirm in a seat of shame. Pride definitely helps speed up the adult process. Career, security, money — overall grown-up responsibilities — are all factors I knew I would have to conquer head on.
Despite the tough battle of achieving the elusive status of impeccable adultness, I was ready for the mission. What I didn’t expect was for the small things to change. The meaningless things that meant so much were supposed to stay the same. I say “meaningless” with the utmost endearment.
So many things matter and everything you do has this incredible impact on your entire life — or so the 20-something mind believes. Where you work, where you live, who you date right now can either enhance or ruin the rest of your life! We stress so much over things with such a limited mindset, but again this is how the young adult mind works (many thanks to the “scholars” who specialize in micro-analyzing millennials, heightening our already insane social anxiety).
Friendships should have been the easy thing. You can have many friends, so there’s no such thing as cheating. Friendships also have no expiration date, so no one is bugging you about when you’ll take it to the next step or question how you’ve managed to like each other for so long. But I’m finding even friendships go through one of the most extreme changes throughout early adulthood. The wolf pack has dispersed and I can’t seem to find the home dawgs I started with. I’ve become a lone wolf.
Six years into the notorious 20s, I’ve come to some conclusions about adult friendships. Here are my grown-up realizations about friendship:
1. Not Everyone Will Love You And Not Everyone Hates You.
Some people won’t stick around forever but that doesn’t make you less loveable. The thing with human beings is that we are so damn complex. We can be a glass of fresh water to one person and a bottle of vinegar to another — no matter what our personality is. Like lovers, friends can fall out of “love” with you and that’s just the ugly part of growing apart. On the flip side, a dying friendship does not mean that hate is a factor. Because an old friend does not speak to you as often does not automatically mean he or she holds any malice toward you. Sometimes relationships just fade. This leads me to the next rule.
2. Not Everything Is About You.
In this voyeuristic time of constant social interaction and connection, we’ve become paranoid because everyone is watching. We’ve also become obsessed with ourselves. Think about it, for the past several years most of us have been documenting our lives for all to see. It’s tough not to be somewhat of a narcissist. However, no matter how great you are at deciphering supposed sub-tweets and virtual jabs — not everything is about you.
If your friend has gone M.I.A. for a while, be a grown-up and understand that perhaps he or she is going through something personal. Why not call and find out if all is well instead of assuming their lack of availability is a direct diss towards you? I find too many people falsely attributing a friend’s behavior to matters concerning themselves. As highly as you think of yourself, your friend is probably not jealous of, angry at, or hating you. The same way you are going through a crazy, confusing, exciting and unpredictable adulthood, your friend is also preoccupied.
3. Don’t Fake The Funk.
Frenemies are ageless but I aim to keep dodging these sort of relationships in years to come. I used to be so good at smiling and enjoying the company of others who I know just finished roasting me in a private shade session. Life too stressful to be worrying about the loyalty of your friends. If you know someone has nothing nice to say about you in your absence, what is the point of being friends? I’m telling you from experience, the fake friendship isn’t worth all the inner resentment. I have no problem not returning calls, texts or emails to folks I know wish me no good. If someone is not your cup of tea, it’s fine to say “no thank you.”
4. See People For Who They Really Are, Not For Who You Want Them to Be.
This realization is for the long-timers. One of the most annoying parts of adulthood is that everyone grows up so differently. Some go at a much faster pace than others. Some go into different directions. You have to see your friend for who they are and love them for it. If you went into a creative field and your friend is climbing the traditional corporate ladder, support their dreams. Don’t chastise them based on your own ideals and goals.
5. Remember Why You Became Friends.
Unfortunately, sometimes we end friendships — voluntarily or involuntarily. No matter the cause of the break-up, never forget your former friend is and will always be the person who you once liked. I can’t stand when people badmouth an old friend. Unless your former pal did some major damage to your personal life or loved ones, there’s no use in the trash talking.
I remember speaking to a girl who once gushed over her artist friend, saying how creative and innovative he is. Now, because they had an argument, she she refers to him as a loser who can’t get a real job. (Tip: These kind of people will never be good friends.)
6. It’s OK To Have Your Own Life.
Sometimes we think in order to be a good friend we have to stifle ourselves. It’s ok to grow up and have your own life. It’s ok to move away. It’s ok to have your space. It’s ok to be private. It’s ok to keep things to yourself. It’s ok to get more serious with your romantic relationship, even if that means less BFF time. Outside of you, your pal is his or her own person too! Why hinder your lives in order to keep something the same. The best friendships grow and evolve.
7. Speak As Much As You Can, Even If It Isn’t Often.
I think sometimes we put too much pressure into what makes an ideal friend. Face it, most of us are standing on unfamiliar ground right now, whether the ground be a new city, new job or just a new lifestyle. Again, being self-absorbed youths we expect our friends to be there and ready for us 24/7.
We all want the same thing but aren’t always willing or able to give it back — that’s ok. The best we can do is give the most that we can in a friendship and be understanding of what our friends can give in return. Sometimes, a weekly one-hour phone call or monthly dinner date can be just enough.
8. Allow Yourself To Make New Friends.
This world is too big for you to not explore. As you learn more about yourself you’ll find other like minded individuals. Your loyalty to your best friend won’t be compromised just because you find yourself growing closer to someone new. In fact, the more new friends you make within the new territories of adulthood make growing up much more enjoyable.
9. Cherish The Moments Anyway.
So you guys only speak a few times a month. Cherish the short moments anyway. Because we are becoming much more layered with our lives of love, career and all things complicated, many of us simply don’t have as much time as we use too. Thats ok. Whatever moments you have with your friends, cherish it anyway. It feels so much better than to keep score on who calls each other more.
10. Let It Go.
Some relationships are only for a season. Tyler Perry has a beautiful monologue in his play “Madea Goes to Jail,” which compares friendships to a tree. Some people are leaves who are just there for a season, others are branches who will stay only until the weathers gets too bad, and then you have your roots who are there to support you no matter the storm. Be thankful for your roots and be content with letting go of your leaves and branches.
In a nutshell, friendships do have their own growing pains. However, it doesn’t have to be so high-maintenance. Speaking to and seeing each other every day does not define real friendship. Getting a handle on this adult thing is already challenging. Facing these challenges with folks who truly love and support you, make you smile, and bring absolute peace to your life can be incredibly easy if you let it be.
This post originally appeared on KazzleDazz.