What does it mean to have friends in your adult years? This question has been nagging me for quite some time, and thus the idea of this post; however, I simply could not seem to get the answer to form into words. What I needed was an ah-ha moment and to my great fortune, I had two.
To better understand why the question of friendship even came to mind, you have to know a bit about me. I have led a slightly nomadic life until recently. I have lived in 16 different houses/apartments in 5 different states and in 3 different countries in the span of 30 years. I have packed and unpacked suitcases and boxes enough times to last me a lifetime. And in the process of bouncing across the world I have made many, many friends. I have also lost many, many more. Sure, social media allows me to keep in contact, but truthfully, I haven’t seen the vast majority of my online friends in years, and some, I might never come across again.
As I reached the bitter milestone of 30 this past year, I started rethinking my contacts, more specifically, those closest to me. I came to the realization that, differently than my childhood expectations created by 90210, I don’t have a clique of my own. I don’t have a bff that has been by my side since the early Girl Scout days. What I have instead, is a wide array of very different online friends who each hold a tiny chunk of my history in their minds and hearts and I also have new friends since my nomadic days seem to have ended. Those are the friends that have come into my life within the past four to five years, but with whom I do not share a history of childhood.
This realization created a longing for someone: a person who knew me when I was not a mom, not a wife, not a grown up. I longed for someone who knew me.
Of course, the first step in realizing that my ideals of friendship were nonexistent in my life, was self pity. Woe is me who is lonely and without friends. Yes, I know: pathetic. It gave me the idea, however, to look up old friends: people who did, once upon a time, know me. Out came the yearbooks and the Facebook stalking began. Within a couple hours I had found several old friends, two of which were actually really close friends of mine – I’m not even sure why we never kept in touch! My first ah-ha moment came from exactly one of these two. She wrote, “I wish I was as happy as you are. I feel lost at times“. I quickly learned two things from her comment. 1) She was right: I am truly happy overall. 2) Not moving 16 times across the world and back, does not guarantee a happily ever after in life.
I decided, then, to take a second and less woe-is-me approach to the friendship issue. I turned to my new friends. They all seemed to be living well adjusted, healthy lives. What they did not have, though, was a specific one-only go-to person. Most had several friends – 3 or 4 – whom they could count on day and night. I was more surprised to find that I was one of those select few.
And here the question was born: What does it mean to have friends in your adult years? The new friends I find myself with today, what do we share that keeps us close?
This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend a fair amount of quality time with my friends at Baby W’s first birthday party. As I was uploading his birthday pictures, I came across one particular shot which brought about my second and final ah-ha moment. In that shot, my three friends and I shared a moment. It was nothing an outsider could understand. It was an inside joke, a shared secret, it was a shared moment. We were fortunate to have caught it on camera. I realized that is what makes a friendship in your adult life: sharing moments. We each have husbands, children, jobs, commitments, and responsibilities. Our time is stretched taut like rubber band, but in moments that we share, that rubber band gives just a bit, just enough for us to nurture our friendships and create a bond.
I understand now that adult friendships require dedication, time, and a ton of understanding. We won’t make every dinner party or every kid’s birthday, but we will always put forth the effort. I also understand now what I lack with some of my past friendships and what I lack with all my online friends are the moments. I hate to think that there is a person out there who has the potential to share in those priceless moments with me, yet we miss out because of lack of trying. So I am urging you to reach out to others and make those moments happen. Don’t just send me a text, call me. Don’t just send me a message on Facebook, come visit or meet me half way.
Life is too full of those precious, fantastic moments to be wasted virtually..