How to maintain friendships when your lives feel so different.
If you've ever sat and reminisced on how cool it'd be to be back at school again, just to be with your bezzies every day talking nonsense like old times, then this post's for you :)
Your 20s/30s is a weird old time for friendships innit? And I think that's mainly because our paths can veer off in crazy-different directions, and we can travel along those paths at completely different speeds too. Friendships seemed so much more easy to manage and maintain during school, college and university; basically because we were all on a similar path, going at a similar speed!
But y'see, post-academia, your friendships face changes and new challenges all the freaking time 👉🏻 meeting partners vs. feeling left on the shelf, moving away vs. feeling stuck where you are, getting engaged vs. feeling like a #spinster4life, buying property vs. renting for what feels like an eternity, getting pregnant vs. having trouble conceiving, getting promotions vs. feeling trapped in your job...and it goes on and on as I'm sure you know! There's such a cocktail of life stages to adapt to and feel pressure to feel okay about, it's not surprising your friendships suffer and feel strained at times. In fact sometimes, it can feel like such a continual battle to compete or keep up with friends, it probably feels like it'd just be easier if you weren't even friends anymore at all. And I know, that's not a nice feeling to admit.
So is there any hope in staying friends? And if so, how the beejaysus do you maintain your friendships?
Let me tell ye what I've learnt 😇
#1 You've gotta let jealousy and comparison go.
As harsh as it sounds, if you're competing, you're not friend-ing honey. Not only is existing in a perpetual goldfish bowl of comparison exhausting, it also feels feckin' horrible, right? So instead, remember what you've been through together and why you're friends in the first place. I'm pretty sure that a massive chunk of that is because you love each other and want nothing more than to see each other happy and winning at life. So feel happiness for their highs, and be there for their lows. Just as they would you. Don't feel you need to be 'doing better' or 'doing the same' as them. Carve your own gorgeously, imperfect path, and cheerlead them up theirs too. (Besides, if they are in a different life stage to you right now, it can actually be super-handy to watch from the sidelines and soak it all in so you can suss whether you're even ready for that yet. Sometimes you're very much not and they've done you a big fat favour!) 🙌🏻
#2 You've gotta be honest with where you're at.
A huge step in the whole friendship evolution is plainly and simply being honest as you go. Tell it how it is and you'll be surprised how much easier stuff gets. If they have a super-swanky job and wanna catch up with you over a delish 3-course meal at a Michelin star restaurant that's just opened, but you can't even afford to replace your threadbare Colgate toothbrush right now, then say. Don't suffer seething in resentment or come across as a flake and say you can't make it out of embarrassment. Say that you'd love to but your only option for the next few weeks is scoffing a bag of chips on the sofa. Friends worth keeping will get it, and would love nothing more than joining you on the sofa.
#3 You've gotta get creative with your plans.
So maybe back in the day, you guys were as thick as thieves, and it just didn't feel right to be out on the town without them stuck to your hip. But now, a monster night on the tiles is the furthest from fitting your lifestyles right now, and you just don't know how you'll hang out anymore. Simple! You've just gotta get creative. Think silly FaceTimes in your jimjams coming up with a new dance routine. Think meeting up for an ice-cream and power walk around the park while sharing earphones to the same music. Think doing a cake decorating class together with a promise of gorging on them in the car on the way home. Whatever! Use your imagination, think a little differently and your friendship will definitely thank you for it.
#4 You've gotta remember it's the little things that count.
So your life's bananas, their life's bananas, and you haven't physically seen each other in weeks, maybe even months (and maybe it's unlikely you're gonna sort something soon too). However! ☝🏻 ...still making a point to remember big deals in their life can mean oh so much – and I mean simply setting reminders in your phone for important dates in their life goes waaaay further than you think. Sending a lil surprise something on their birthday; remembering happy (or hard) anniversaries in their calendar and posting a card; sending a wee thinking-of-you text when they're facing big-deal appointments in their life too, is sometimes all they need to know you're there for them, just as much as you ever were. And hey presto = friendship is maintained 😊
#5 You've gotta accept that some friendships will naturally drift.
Having said all of that, sometimes friendships do just 'complete their course'. Sometimes they've served their need for a particular life stage for both of you, and that's okay too! No-one's a bad person, no-one's a bad friend, life just isn't perfect and never-ending, and neither are our relationships. And I don't think it's something to feel overly mournful about either, because new friends (that do fit your life stage) will come into (and enrich) your life too. (Besides, you never know, old friends might even find their way back into your life again at some point if your paths and life stages happen to align again in the future.
Friendships fizzling out don't have to be a '...so are we breaking up?'-type convo y'know?
So what I'm suggesting, is to perhaps just be a bit more relaxed about the whole thing! It's all gonna work out just fine ❤️️
If you've got any super-clever or creative ideas on how to maintain your friendships through the craziness of your 20s and 30s, I'd LOVE to hear from you in the comments below 🙏🏻
Until next weekend me lil' beaut 💋