In the age of “ride or die” and “no new” friends a lot of young women are all effed up in the game, as we are bombasted with the ideal of everlasting friendships and too much focus on marriage being the golden relationship that cures all things. Girl…nah. Our lives are full of complex relationships that provide fulfillment to us as individuals. Friendships are golden, even if you are married. Because you can be married and lonely. Having one person who is the only person you get along with, is hard. We are complicated people, with multiple selfs and sides that need to be taken care of. One of the hardest lessons in life is learning how to manage through the evolution of friendships.
Most women are surrounded by images that project life long friendships. The bestie since kindergarten who stands by your side through a lifetime. The core girl group from high school or college who goes their separate ways into adulthood and bill paying, but converge yearly for the balls out girls trip. Your bridesmaids will comprise of friends from elementary, college, that era after college where you found yourself, and family. Because womens, stay friends forever. Falling out, growing apart from friends is catty, bitchy behavior that mature women don’t bother with and only reality housewives get paid to revel in. And so at 26 years old, when I went through a sudden falling out with friends, I was most hurt because I had assumed that I was too grown for something like that to happen to me. I wanted to check my maturity level, because I thought “middle school behavior” got left somewhere back in the college dorms. I had not been told, that the sweet evolution that is life, will forever include bumps in the road. That as an ever-evolving person, I would out grow, grow apart and straight out lose people in my life over time. This was not a reflection of my maturity or lack there of, necessarily, it was a simple fact of life that no one had informed me of.
And so here we are today and I wanted to pass on this very important lesson to my #SmartBrownGirls. Because not only am I at the precipice of another friendship fracture or possible loss, but also because having moved to a new city, I’ve also come to the realization of how hard it is to make friends as a post-college adult. The honest conversation that needs to be had around friendships, is about the full evolution in finding, maintaining, losing and repairing friendships.
Finding friends as an adult post-college is indeed harder.
College is a bubble. Finding friends in a bubble is always easier. As an adult in a new city, I’ve definitely had to check my expectations in a friendship. As an adult you are a lot more stuck in your ways, Sallie Mae is now stressing you and other factors may impact your mindset. Allowing the natural progression of having social acquaintances versus going into situations expecting or trusting someone to be your friend off the bat, can help you avoid a lot of heartbreak. Also take a moment and think about whether you really want a friend, because the expectations you have in a friendship are a two way street. Are you ready to give that much? Are you expecting people to fit the role of friendships left in another local? Is that fair?
This is the hard part. It’s hard for me too. But we have to be honest…I have to be honest with my self about what my expectations are in a friendship, how long it will take some one to meet those expectations, and if I really want “friends” in the first place. Maybe you’re looking for someone more a long the lines of a social acquaintance or a brunch buddy. Because you have to be ready to give as much as your expecting to receive. So be real with where you are at and what it is you really want out of your social interactions with other people. Then take a deep breath and remember that it’s going to take a good bit of effort and time on your part. Plus a strong dash of letting a bit of your vulnerability show thru. I’m working on it too…
Friendships are not a lateral trajectory.
Since we are ever-evolving beings, things change, things come up, things happen. “Middle school behavior” never goes away, as we all have moments of selfishness, pettiness, and mistakes. What does change from middle school is how we understand and react to situations. You also want to be mindful that life is complex in different ways for each person, there are outside sources that will impact any relationship and person. So don’t be so quick to take everything personal. Friendships aren’t a Hallmark card, sometimes there are lapses in communication and need for space + distance, and circumstances that you would never dream of that might cause a break in a friendship. But that’s all a process of life and hopefully you + your friends can be patient, kind and open-minded enough to see that relationship come full circle back into a blooming a friendship.
You are not the Real Housewives of Pettyville…
I guiltily enjoy the Real Housewives franchise, but I’ve also seen the negative impact shows of that nature have. The glorification of pettiness and the unwillingness to compromise does not work in real life. There’s no legion of twitter followers for you to RT in support of your being cruel to another person. A relationship that has taken years to build upon shouldn’t be washed away over silly trifles without giving the offending party a chance to speak. Bravo is not writing you any check to keep up a dramatic storyline of cutting off your friends, so do not fall into the trap. We have to remember that honesty and understanding are always the best ways to handle a situation and not fall into the pop-culture pitfall of being petty.
It’s not always a friendship ending offense, it might just be a fracture…
In honor of not being petty, taking the time to talk through offenses, really are necessary. That doesn’t mean you have to have hour long emotional conversations about things. But have you and the offending party had an adult discussion about what the problem is? Have you been clear about your feelings on the situation with the friend? My usual rule of thumb, is to make sure that I am very clear and upfront about how I feel about the situation, without attacking the person or throwing past things in their face. Keeping it simply about the offending subject, and still giving the person the space to come to their own conclusion. There’s no ultimatum or threat. Then if I feel that they don’t get it, I move on. Nothing else needs to be said. So find your balance in talking things out and give space to friendships being able to repair themselves in time.
Check out my #SmartBrownGirl video below, and in the comments, let me know what have you learned about friendships that you weren’t taught as a child?