When we’re young, we look ahead in life and think that by our 40s, surely we’ll have everything figured out. Right? Our love life, job, kids, body confidence, spirituality…you name it, we should have a handle on it. And friendships? Naturally!
There is just so much that I don’t have figured out. I feel like that meme sometimes, you know? The one looking for an “adultier adult”?
I don’t think we ever get over that feeling, either.
Maybe it’s that I grew up watching Friends and Golden Girls and the like. The beautiful people on these shows were maybe still figuring out life in general, but darn it they had their friends. Ross and Blanche might have screwy love lives. Phoebe and Rose might be kinda whackadoodle. And well, Chandler and Dorothy might have been the actual cynical best. But no matter what happened, they had their core group, their homies, their BFFs, their ride or dies.
I’m going to go waaaaaaay out on a limb here and say that most of us… can’t relate.
Situation #1: In which I forget how to be friends with someone who works full time.
Guys. It’s bad. Apparently, I don’t remember how to be friends with someone I can’t see frequently or call in the middle of the day.
Last year, a friend I’ve known for decades went back to work teaching full time. Since we don’t live in the same state, for years and years our friendship consisted of phone calls. Any time of day, usually when one of us was sitting in a car line or driving to Costco, we could call the other and share our lives. Then she went back to work. Add that to our already more hectic schedules thanks to our teenagers, and months went by between our phone calls. Thankfully, this summer has righted that trend a bit, but still, it’s not like it used to be even though we still love each other dearly.
And in another instance, a friend who used to work long shifts just a couple days a week received a well-deserved promotion. To her credit and benefit, she now has a consistent schedule that is immensely better for her and her family. When she told me of her new position, I honestly couldn’t have been happier for her! I will always and forever to be one of her biggest, loudest cheerleaders because she is damn good at what she does. But when I find myself looking for a lunch date or a walking partner or what have you, I realize that she won’t be able to do it except for on the weekends. Then, well, cue kids and husbands and everything else that we both have to deal with and there you have it. We miss each other.
And in each situation, I find myself wondering “My life hasn’t changed that much. How do I simultaneously feel happy for her, sad at being ‘left behind’, and continue to be the friend she needs/wants me to be?”
Situation #2: In which we depend on our kids to find friends for us.
First, there was the moms’ club at church. From that club, came playgroups. Then the kids started school or sports, and we met other moms there. Maybe we introduced ourselves to the moms of their neighborhood playmates. Regardless, how were we meeting the women who would accompany us through life and motherhood? Yep. Through our children.
Recently, our kids’ summer swim season came to a close and with it, so did my time on the team’s board of directors. Three of us who became particularly close over the last years of working together were chatting about this end of an era the other day. The one of us who is staying on the board noted how sad she was that we were “leaving her.” The other who, like me, is leaving the board said, “I’m just afraid I’m never going to see you guys again!” We were a hot mess, y’all. No kidding.
But here’s the thing. We are three grown women who wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for our kids. Our whole friendship started because of a shared activity we had signed our kids up for. Our families have become friends and we’ve had pool time and date nights together. But take away that one thing we’ve counted on that we had in common and we legit lose our minds. See, before, our friendship and time together was easy. Now, we have to make it work. Now, it’s up to us.
Situation #3: In which many of my friends live in my phone.
What fresh hell has social media wrought on our friendships, ladies? And yet, at the same time, how amazing is it to have “friends” all over the doggone globe?!
Our grandmothers wrote letters. Our moms paid for long-distance phone calls. But us? We write pithy Facebook statuses, make 15-second videos for stories, and try to present the best of ourselves to the world by filling up square upon square of curated images for the ‘gram.
This is not to say that good and true and honest friendships can’t be formed online. I 100% believe they can be! But the part I struggle with is, how do you stay friends with someone you only know superficially on Instagram? What are your shared experiences? How do you really know what is going on in their lives? And in the most extreme instance, (sorry for going morbid here) how would they know if you died?! I mean, really!
Certainly, there is community to be found online. For me, the most fruitful of that community is through my blogging group at Blessed is She. Whether they realize it or not, people like Olivia and Patty and Grace and Bonnie and Megan and Gina (and I could go on and on, so apologies if anyone feels left out) help me to be a better person every single day. And I hope I return the favor! But I have never met any of these ladies in real life…yet.
So on we go, popping into DM boxes and tagging in statues and pictures, being real-life encouragers in an all too virtual world.
In Conclusion, It’s Complicated.
All of this to say, friend (<– see what I did there?), is that as much as we would like this area of our lives to be simple, that just isn’t the case for a large portion of us.
And on behalf of everyone who feels like the aren’t always a good friend, let me say this:
We’re trying. We still love you. Keep asking us along to your coffee dates and moms’ nights out. Our lives may be crazy hectic, but we really do want to make it work. If we ever meet in person, yeah it’s gonna be weird, but we truly do want to make the best of it.
Sing it with me now… Thank you for being a friend!
Or, maybe more accurately… So no one told you life was gonna be this way (clap clap clap clap)!