Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Friendships and Adulting

To the friends that I have kept in my 20's, thank you.

The twenty-something years seem to be a mess of trying to figure out how to adult. You are able to fully choose whether or not you'd like to go to school, start a career, start a family, where you'd like to live, how to allocate your time, and more. You start to learn who you are as a person beyond your family's roots, values, and opinions.

Being in your twenties is a great time, but it's a time when people must learn to balance their own lives. No one will tell you to come home early, eat at a certain time, wake up on time, or avoid people or places that are undeserving. As a twenty-something, you are able to eat dessert for dinner, stay up until 3 am then work at 9 am, buy the frivolous car, run your credit cards up to absurd amounts, and stop taking care of yourself. However, you learn that it all comes with a price. You can't perform at your best without sleep, adequate nutrition, and free time. You miss your college assignments, you fail. You skip work, you don't get paid. You miss talking to friends, you lose your social connections.

Some people spend too much time focusing on their personal life. Others spend too much time focusing on their professional lives. I was in the second group. I spent the majority of my twenty-something years trying to find the perfect career. Luckily, it wasn't a fruitless effort and it has truly paid off. Nevertheless, I made some difficult decisions to focus on my professional life at the expensive of my personal life. I choose degrees over connections.

For a while, I started to believe that I didn't deserve to have friends. That it wasn't possible to have a social life while going to school, working multiple jobs, and building a career. It's easy to get into the mindset that there is no reason to do anything besides work and sleep. I believe that socializing was a luxury that I did not have the ability to juggle. That is a lonesome place.

My friends are juggling the same activities that I'm juggling and in most cases much, much more. Some work multiple jobs, raise kids, maintain close ties with their families, manage a household, and pursue higher education.

However, I have some real ride-or-die friends. That's why I'm so thankful for them. Fabulous people have stuck by me and believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. They have endured canceled plans at the last moment and text messages with a 3 day lag time. Yet, they still invite me to lunch. They still care. That is a beautiful part of life-- to be surrounded by people that care.

I'm a firm believer in the idea that your experiences make you who you are. Make it a point to check in with friends and to be understanding of their struggles. I think I was meant to learn that I can not judge a person if they have to cancel plans for the 5th time in a row. If I don't hear from a friend, I know it's probably not personal. In fact, it's my duty to give that person a call or text message to check on them. They might need me to listen and I can't be hung up waiting for them to connect with me.

And maybe I don't deserve my friends, but damn I appreciate them.

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