1. A seasoned mentor
There’s a reason that the ‘meeting with the mentor’ is the first step on the hero’s journey (the outline that can break down almost every narrative, ever). Having someone in your life who you respect, admire, and can look to for guidance is a uniquely refreshing experience, and it’s crucial when you’re navigating a new career or experience that you used to only wonder about. A seasoned mentor is both a reality check and a constant reminder to never lose sight of what you want.
2. A picky cheerleader
We all need someone to cheer us on from time to time, but at a certain age, we stop needing blind encouragement to do anything and everything. Throughout your teenage years, you probably had a lot of people tell you that things were “awesome!” or “so cool!” when those things ended up being totally screwed up experiences. Now, you need someone who will cheer you on when you’re going in the right, most efficient direction, like a GPS system that doesn’t suck (love you, Waze).
3. Your platonic soul mate
I believe in the idea that there are are a cornucopia of soul mates, and most of them are just friends. There’s a special person you need after 22, when your hook up phase is in full swing or even just dying down. First, you’ll be attracted to them and want them to want you, but over time you’ll realize that you guys connect in a weird, mind-reading best friend way and your relationship will shift. A platonic soul mate knows what you want in a romantic soul mate, and they’re there as your best friend to remind you that you deserve it.
4. A wake up call
A horrible plague of a person who tears through your life like a gross, self-centered toxic tornado of terror is sometimes exactly what you need to remind you why you value the good people in your life.
5. A best friend you don’t see often
You don’t need to see this friend all the time, and maybe you’re separated by work or some other circumstances. You’ve had this kind of friend before, but after 22, you need them to keep you sane and give you perspective so that you can escape the circle of your regular grind that sometimes seems way too small.
6. An ‘ex’ who you can actually get along with
We all have horrible exes. We all have crazy ex stories. But not all of us have an ex who we can actually say that everything is cool with, and I’ve found that experience happens for a lot of people after they find some stability in their own life. It feels really satisfying to look at someone and think, “damn, I used to hate your guts and wish you would disappear forever, and now I’m pretty indifferent. I wonder how your Mom is doing?” And then you can actually say it, and it isn’t weird. It’s just neutral, and at best, it feels really good.
7. Someone who’s in a good relationship
I was always either very jealous of my friends relationships or super attached to the idea of them staying together, nothing in between. Now I feel like I can look at the good relationships and just appreciate the aspects of them that I want for myself, as opposed to looking at completely unrealistic fictional romances and wanting that drama in your life.
8. A neighborhood ‘Grandparent’
A neighborhood grandparent is a sweet old person who you see around and just smile at all the time. My neighborhood grandparent is the guy who works at my print shop and is always super proud of me when I sell something on eBay.
9. A person with a pet, to which you can be a step-owner
At 22, not all of us can handle a pet, but a goddamned lot of us want to cuddle with one. Friends with pets that you can pet-sit or just hang out with a great friends to have, not just for the pets, but for having a good friend who’s an example of how to really take care of another living thing.
10. A work ‘mom’ or ‘dad’
Work parents are like your real parents, and they’re kind of like mentors, except you probably wouldn’t ask your mentor which shirt looks best or for a tampon, and work mom and dads are so truly maternal/paternal that you really wouldn’t feel (that) weird asking them for stuff like that. Also, work mom and dads can be older, younger, or the same age as you. As long as they look out for you, they’re your parents. Science.
11. A fellow struggling commuter
Commuting is (at many times) awful. Whether it’s a friend you text or a person on the train who you look at every day like “damn, can you believe this shit?”, commuter friends keep you from moving to the woods and going Walden forever.
12. A young Padawan
If you don’t get the Star Wars bit, that’s okay, because I really didn’t either when my boss kept calling me ‘young padawan’ when I worked at the mall in high school. Now I know that it just means novice or trainee, like the Karate Kid. You get to be Miyagi to someone younger than you, like an intern or a friend who’s just trying to get through their late teens or last year of college. It’s wonderfully strange to be treated like the person who has it all together.
13. A truly infuriating ‘friend’ on social media
We all have a friend who posts so much annoying trash that, before we post a set of lyrics or an obvious subtweet, we think of them and think:
14. A real doctor who you see regularly
Real adults need real doctors, not the doctors who have Highlights magazine or Teen Vogue in their waiting room.
15. A true advocate, ally, or teacher
Growing up means realizing your own ignorance and privilege and being open to those who can educate you on what you would never otherwise learn or become aware of, at least not without hours of independent research. Admittedly, I wish I did more on my own to educate myself, but thankfully I’ve met people who are honest, open, and informed enough to share their knowledge with me. And that’s a beautiful thing.
16. The person who tests your limits
There are people in this life who are like naps, and then there are people who are the human form of that hour before your deadline, when you’re rushing to finish so hard that your hands are shaking, but you finish it and can breath easy afterwards. These people will make you feel proud of yourself. Or they will kill you. Whichever.
17. A friend who’s plugged in to everything
They know what’s happening on the news, on Reddit, on Twitter, on everything, even Ello, whatever that is. This person used to be infuriating, but now you can see them for the good that they do: they make sure that you don’t look like an idiot in boring-people-circle party conversations.
18. A ‘camp counselor’
They know what’s going on in the group text and they know how much you owe to who on Venmo and where the party is this weekend and if it’s dressy or casual or dressy casual and they need you to be ready by 7:45, okay?
19. An ego assassin
Always there to comment on your humble brag Facebook status and say something like “lol remember three years ago when you threw up at Arthur’s in front of everyone?” We all need to be taken down a notch by a royal asshole sometimes. The circle of life, it rules us all.
20. The parent you want to be
Great Moms and Dads can inspire you even if you don’t want to be a parent. As you get older, you come to really appreciate the role parents play in everyone’s lives, not just the lives of their own children. They keep the world spinning during crises and know scary deceptive mind control tricks that would impress any character on True Detective. Good parents are just the realest.
21. Your ride or die
This best friend has been around from the jump, or they just came into your life and posted up there like, “what? I’m not going anywhere. Get used to it, bitch.” They’re here to tell you the truth, make you go out and be a person when you’d rather stay at home and get stoned and be furniture, and generally just make sure that you’re always striving to be first place in the bad bitch contest. This person will also sleep in your bed while you cry or tell you that your ex-girlfriend wasn’t good enough for you (even if she wasn’t).
22. A hater, or five
Nothing like someone negative to remind you that you’re being positive as hell. We’ll let Ice T wrap this one up.
“Have a great day…. And make a hater sick.” http://t.co/6d3aTPGVms
— ICE T (@FINALLEVEL) August 21, 2013