For a while now I’ve wanted to write about how to make friends in your twenties and beyond; the only problem was I did not have any material for the topic because I simply didn’t know how. Having recently moved out of state, I’ve been on a quest to make friends and not lose touch with old. You know, it’s not as easy when you’re not in school anymore, surrounded by people your age whom you see every day, and you’re all going through the same motions, more or less. We grow up, move away from close friends and family, get jobs, and become busy with adult things – it becomes harder and harder to make new friends and keep the old. At least for some of us.
Perhaps it stems from the younger, shy me who was never the first to start a friendship. I’ve always been friendly with people I meet, but I was never the popular girl who had a zillion friends and could make new ones every day. That’s why I could relate so well to 15-year-old Maya Van Wagenen who recently wrote about popularity in today’s world in relation to a 1950’s teen etiquette book. I wish I’d read this book going into high school and again before college, when my self esteem was so low. Even still, while I’m not concerned with being popular anymore, I do want to have wholesome friendships for the rest of my life, and be a good friend in return. And ultimately, popularity, as Maya confirms, comes from how you treat people and not from what you wear. The more you extend your heart to others, the more liked you become. And, I suppose, the easier your friendships are to make and keep. It shouldn’t be that difficult after all. I thought about my friendships now and think I’ve pulled together four valuable truths about friendships that are worth taking a moment to think about.
1. The path less traveled.
The beautiful thing about friendships in your twenties, thirties, and beyond, is that the people you meet along your path now have most likely crossed your way by a wonderful chance. You know that expression, “I’m so happy our paths crossed”? It means life circumstances fell in place such that you would meet this new, terrific friend only because you moved to Chicago and decided to take your first yoga class where she was next to you in the back of the room. When we’re younger and in school, we tended to have the same group of friends year after year, and we all traveled in the same circles. As an adult, we’re all on our own path, and the people we meet are not in our lives because we were forced to sit next to them in algebra but because we, most likely, were simply living our life and met someone else living theirs. These organic relationships are wonderful!
2. Age is just a number.
I’ve been surprised that many of my new friendships formed since graduating college are with women three and four decades older than me! At first I wondered whether or not I could count them as friends since we’re in different chapters of our lives, and then I realized what a stupid thing that was to wonder. Being friends with older women is not only acceptable and fair game in your twenties, it’s also something to treasure. These women are wise, worldly, beautiful, confident, and adventurous. They are the whole package, and I can learn a thing or two from them. Isn’t that what we want in our friends?
3. Just a phone call away.
On one hand I can count my friendships from childhood that still mean a lot to me, and yet I tend to beat myself up for not being better about traveling to go see these friends. I have to remember what my grandmother always says: “until we see each other again, I’m just a phone call away.” Friendships as an adult take all different forms – simply because we’re all so busy and on different schedules. And our twenties and thirties are particularly interesting years because we all scatter in different life directions. For instance, when I’m driving home from my 8-5 workday, some of my friends are putting supper on the table for their young families. A friend is still a friend if you don’t see her on a regular basis, or even talk to her on a regular basis. It’s not all or nothing. A phone call and a hand-written or emailed letter, just to check in, at least once a month is a fine effort to say you care about your pal. If you can do more, that’s great! But doing what you can is better than nothing at all. And always be sure to tell her you think of her often, because you know you do!
4. Don’t start over.
The first friend you had probably knows the real you, so unlike romantic relationships where we often say, “Oh, we were so young and clueless – it wasn’t going to last”, a friend that knows everything about you is one you want to keep. Even if it’s been years since you’ve hung out, don’t write the friendship off. You may think it’s hanging on by a thread simply because you don’t know if she still thinks about you, feels the same way about you, or if you even have anything in common anymore. But considering how long it takes to create those truly special, valuable friendships, it’s worth hanging on. When you do call each other up (which you should if not just once a year), you will no doubt laugh about the old days and smile about how deep your friendship goes.
And of course, some friendly reminders when it comes to friendships:
-Talk less. Listen more.
-Always be you and not someone else.
-Friendships are a two-way street.
-Appreciate your friends…really and truly.
-When you can, make time for one-on-one with your pals, even when you think you’re too busy – it does the spirit good.
How do you make time for friends?
How do you spend time with your friends?
How do often do you keep in touch?
How do you make new friends?