A few weeks ago, my partner was out of town on business for a few days, so I decided to plan numerous friend dates in advance with people I don’t typically get to see.
Given my 9-5 work schedule and my hobbies, I usually make time to see a friend each week. Sometimes two, if it’s a long weekend.
But it just so happened that during this particular string of days, all of my friends cancelled for various reasons. So I decided that Hagen Daaz could be my friend, and ended up browsing casually through Netflix. As I watched Annie and Lillian comically save their forever-friendship in Bridesmaids, I had an epiphany.
I began to slowly wonder if I had been doing this whole friendship thing wrong – here are these film plots that exist around people who have been like sisters since day one, or have been meeting the squad at the same coffee shop every week for over a decade. I have a decent group of close friends, but very few of the traits that I witnessed in these characters I could say resembled my real life friendships. While I tend not to embroil myself in negative thinking, I began to wonder if I mattered enough to my friends; the past few years have been very career-oriented for me, not to mention some of us had grown apart over the years – but maybe this just wasn’t cutting it for my current circle of trust. I wasn’t meeting them at the bar every couple days like the crew in How I Met Your Mother, not to mention my friends come from different backgrounds and social circles.
It wasn’t until I decided to discuss this with a very close friend of mine, that I had an even larger realization: if you have ever had any of these thoughts before, you are not the only one.
He expressed to me that in trying to make time for his volunteering, work, and his practicum, he seemed to only be able to see his friends every few weeks. He also opened up about the occasional feelings of negativity he would feel towards himself for being single, or socially isolated as he tried to prepare for his future.
At first, I did not grapple well with this concept, as how does this happen to someone so intelligent, kind, and funny? But I think that’s the failed conception that many of us have – if we’re ideal, we must be surrounded by copious amounts of people. If we’re not, there must be something wrong either with us, or the situation. Yet most of us are, or have been alone in certain ways, even in the middle of a crowd.
Another way of looking at it is how we perceive romantic relationships – we seem to have a stronger hold on reality, when it comes to ‘real love’ versus the infamous, epic love that we view in the movies. So how is friendship any different? If you grow apart from some friends along the way, that’s perfectly normal – people change. If you are still holding your traditions true with your childhood best friend, then good on you! There is not one right or wrong way when it comes to this topic.
When we were in high school, there was ample time to see our friends between classes, or after school, or on the weekends. But eventually, people begin to have more responsibilities, whether it’s companies to run, courses to teach, dogs to walk, or kids to feed. Who knows, after a few years, perhaps you’ll find yourself gravitating back to old friendships, or finding more time for those you care about.
One of the best things we can do in this situation is prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to the people in our lives. Worry less about who appreciates you, and spend more of that time investing in your relationships and wellbeing. Even if your friends might not be around as much as you would like, remember that they do love you, and they appreciate you being there even at the more hectic points in their lives.
Feeling lonely today? Connect with a friend you haven’t spoken to in ages – every conversation has to start with one person initiating.