Adulting: A Mini Series, Part II
So, before we get down to chatting about your gal pals, girl squad, good vibe tribe, best friends, soul sisters, ride-or-dies, or any other way you can refer to your friends, let me tell you a little about how this series is going to go.
I want you- whoever you are- to know that I see you, that I understand you, that I recognize myself in you- and that hopefully you can relate to what I’ve experienced personally or what I’ve heard professionally.
The twenties are a massive time of transition and transformation and while I could generalize this decade, I’m going to break down these ten years in each blog and get real about what’s happening in your early twenties, your mid-twenties, and your late twenties. Because let’s be real, things look vastly different. And if you haven’t seen it happen yet, just trust me, and you can read on as a way to prepare.
So, as a general guide, here’s what we’ve got in terms of definitions. Feel free to disagree, but I’ve done a very scientific poll and asked all of my twenty-something girlfriends who have concurred about the break down.
Early Twenties (20-23)
The Early Twenties
So, now, let’s get into friendship in your early twenties. Your young’n years. For most of us, we were in college when we were turned 20. It was that obnoxious year before we turned 21 and could actually go out and have drinks like real adults do. Some of our friends turned 21 before us and they would skip out on the frat parties and head straight to the bars- rude. Jokes aside, your social life in your early twenties was a big deal. Wait, let me edit that, it was the main deal.
Sure, you went to class, came home for the holidays, there was that guy that you were on again, off again with, but what really mattered were your girlfriends. And I’m talking the good ones- the ones that were there for you when you randomly got ghosted when you thought you met the one, they had study sessions with you until the wee hours of morning, would happily order pizza and watch a cheesy movie on a Friday night, and would take your side on whatever it is. The fact is: they had your back.
These years are great for those of us who had our people. Maybe they are the friends we’ve had since high school. Maybe we met them on our orientation day in college, or maybe our coffee order was messed up at the campus café and it forced an awkward exchange that led to a lovely friendship. For us, we know how vital it was to have our girls- or guys for that matter. The friendships- and value they brought-seems so innate that often times we can take it for granted.
It is easy for me to write about what best friends do because that’s what my best friends did and continue to do. But, I know that it is not always like that. In my practice, I work a lot with teenage girls so I know all about the Queen Bees and I know that sometimes they don’t buzz off after high school. Sometimes they linger. They find their way into your sorority house, they like the same guy you do, and sometimes they disguise themselves as your best friend.
When something like this happens, I can’t begin to imagine the pain it causes. It feels like your world has shattered. And like I said earlier- your friends are your world at this point- so when something like this goes down, your world as you know it does change. It should hurt and it should shake you to your core. You feel alone. You feel uncertain. You feel isolated and lost and just like you have no one to turn to. You don’t know who to vent to, who to get ready with, who to go on an aimless Target run with, you kind of just feel like you are floundering.
This is part of the twenties. It is not specific to the younger years. But I do think immaturity self-corrects around graduation and these bees buzz off or you can become more savvy to people you want in your hive. But not knowing where you fit in can happen at any point in your twenties, or let’s be honest, at any point period.
Feeling connected, fully accepted, appreciated, valued, respected, and loved is what we always want in our friendships.
So what happens when we don’t have that? We keep looking. We get clear on the types of friendships we want. We put ourselves in situations where people like that spend their time. We open ourselves up and push ourselves to say hi to someone we don’t know, or go to a school thang by ourselves, or invite that cool girl from class to grab coffee.
By practicing this in your early twenties, you learn skills that will serve you as you get older. By practicing this type of friendship resilience and selectiveness, you begin to create and cultivate a group of quality individuals.
Congrats! You graduated! Unless you went straight into grad school, you are officially off the life path as you know it. Exciting right?! Terrifying? Absolutely. For some, you may have had a job lined up, an apartment to immediately decorate. For others, you didn’t have that same straight shot and you ended up back at your parents, trying to tell yourself you were living up funemployment. That’s fun until you need to buy something and when you realize that no one else can play on a Monday at 1pm. Or maybe you’re off in grad school and all your other friends are busy getting real jobs, expense accounts, and talking about 401ks. Umm, what’s that?
Regardless of where you’re at when you’re 24-26 years old, your setting is much different from college. You are not seeing your friends every day. Your schedule is busy- either with a 9-5 job, a 75 hour work week as your create a start up, or a week where time is meaningless until one of the jobs calls you back after turning in 284643 resumes.
And on top of having different work schedules, your friends are now spread out, some in different time zones. I mean that adds another layer of complexity to the weekly phone calls you used to have or dinners you used to make in your shared kitchen.
For those of you that had or created friendships in college, you are now challenged and tested to see how you can maintain them. Life will throw all kinds of obstacles your way: distance, time zones, opposite work schedules, phones that don’t hold a good charge- you name it. You will have every reason in the books to let friendships fade.
The thing to remember is how valuable your friendships are to you and to your friends. They are vital to your mental and emotional health and fun fact: a strong support system keeps you living longer. SO, they’re also vital to your vitality.
The best way to keep your squad going strong? Be intentional about connecting. Whether it is scheduling weekend getaways, monthly phone calls, weekly texts, or just sending each other memes on Instagram every time you see one that reminds you of your peeps- do it. When we are intentional, we set forth with a can do attitude. We can make time. We can maintain our friendships.
And while I’m not talking about all of the other areas in your life that are happening or have happened, trust me when I tell you this, having your friends during your twenties is the most healing thing you can do for yourself. There’s not much you can’t get through when you have them.
So this is when things get real. And I’m saying this as I recognize that I am officially now in my late twenties. This is when jobs stabilize, relationships tend to get more serious, when everyone else seemingly has their lives together and people really start thinking about and referring to themselves as adults.
Now, when it comes to friendships, this is the time in your life when there is a lot of movement. And I don’t mean that your friends are literally moving- they can be- but I mean that the women and men that you have been in close connection to begin to ebb and flow.
Your time, especially when partners, spouses, and even kids, begin to compete, time becomes even more limited. Your ability to take off on vacation, to drive 2 hours to see your girlfriends, or even have an uninterrupted phone call during the week is a serious accomplishment.
Because of all of this, that friendship resilience and selectiveness you cultivated back in your early twenties comes right back into play during these years. You begin to look at the friendships you have and assess which ones feed your souls the most; which ones provide the most give and take; which ones will listen to you vent about how much you wish you could be 21 again and only have to worry about finals.
These years will produce some of the greatest milestones and successes along with some of the hardest lessons. So, in knowing that, you can understand that this is when you want your MVP’s in your court. You want the ones who will meticulously plan your bridal shower, the ones who will tell you how they really feel about the guy you are dating before he proposes, who will listen to you as you share the struggle of your families, and everything in between.
The truth is: not everyone you are friends with when you are 22, 26, and 28 will stick with you until you’re 30 and beyond. And that is okay. It’s important to recognize that people come into your life when you need them and they stay for as long as you need each other. Sometimes that’s a lifetime; sometimes it’s a matter of years, or month. Regardless, it is okay.
Each chapter of your twenties requires a different version of you, which will in turn require different friendships. That may mean new people, or that you begin to lean on certain friends more than others during certain transitions.
Just let things flow. Trying to force friendships doesn’t help you and if it is forced, is it even real? I would rather you invest time and energy in the people that are doing the same for you.
The real friendships make you feel all warm and fuzzy. They’re the ones that make you cry from laughing so hard. The ones that get you before you even try and explain. They understand your history and are rooting for your future. These are the friendships I want for you in your twenties and beyond.
Bottom line: Stay Open. Stay Loyal. Stay Intentional. Stay Kind. Stay Connected.