Wednesday, June 8, 2016
I recently read an article about the decline of friendships after the age of 25, especially among women. I find it interesting and something I can actually relate to, at this stage in my life. I'm a bit past the 25 year old age bracket. Ok, I'd rather not admit that I'm closer to the 35 year old age bracket. Um. What? I don't know if it's simply because of the stage of life I'm in now, raising my young son and no longer working outside the home, but my circle of friends has shrunk, significantly over the past 2 years or so. Some friends have moved away, some continue to grow their family and naturally become increasingly busy, some have simply drifted away. I know people and friendships inevitably change over time, but I feel like friendships are even harder to maintain than ever before. You would think with the addition of social media, smart phones, and every means possible to keep in contact, that friendship would be easier than ever before. But I'm finding quite the opposite.
I've always had this notion in my head of having a "best friend." Someone you can call, day or night, living close enough to drop by for a cup of coffee or take a spontaneous trip to Target together. Going for walks around the neighborhood with your strollers. Sharing advice about marriage and raising kids. Checking in on one another when you know there's something going on. Celebrating the happy and helping to shoulder the sad. Bringing over a meal or your favorite cookies. Someone with similar likes and goals to share life with on a semi-regular basis. A best friend kind of friend. A BFF, if you will.
Am I living in a dream world? Does this kind of friendship only exist on TV? Or do you just have to work really hard at it? Or either you have it or you don't? I feel like some people are blessed to have friendships like this. Maybe even a lifelong friend that you've known since you were 10 years old. If that's you, consider yourself lucky, indeed.
Maybe it's because I've always had a build-in network of friends, where ever I was - high school, college, part-time job, full-time job, church. Now that I'm a stay-home mom, I'll be honest, things have gotten pretty quiet around here. I LOVE being a stay-home mom, that's for sure. It's a gift that I'm thankful for, every day. But before I had my son, I pictured life as a full-time mom looking a little differently. I didn't imagine it being lonely at times. I didn't think my social circle would almost completely disappear. I didn't anticipate friends being so busy with their own families and lives that I would hardly see them anymore.
I know having children does change your availability, that's a given. Life now revolves around nap time and bed time, and schedules and routine become king. It's hard (and expensive) to find sitters, and to be honest, it's really nice just staying home on the weekends and enjoying family time. Sometimes it's more work to go out as a family. I get that. Then there's the guilt associated with taking "me time" and doing something on your own while your child(ren) and spouse are at home.
But I still think that close friendships with other like-minded women is important - at every stage. I've been blessed to have different friends come into my life at different times throughout my life. And maybe that's just how it works - different people at different times. My best friend in junior high might have been intended for that unique time period. My best friend in college may have been the friend I needed for those years. This sounds so dumb even writing it, but has anyone else ever had "friend envy"? Is that a thing? I'm admitting that I have. This isn't a cry for help or a pity party, more of an observation and wondering why. Why some people have that instant connection and bond of lifelong friendship, and others stay at the acquaintance level or outskirts of close friendship. Anyone else?
What I've come to realize is that I want to be that type of friend, and have that type of friendship, but it does take work. It's not going to happen if I sit in my house everyday waiting for someone to think of me. I have to reach out. Duh, right? Friendship is a two-way street. And if someone isn't reaching back out, move on to the next. I've also learned that friendship can't be forced. If people change, or don't reciprocate, as hard as it is not to take it personally, it may be time to move on. To look for other opportunities to make new connections. To be the friend that someone else might need at that very moment. You never know until you have a conversation.
So, what's the point of my rambling? I guess it's just to be a friend. Be a friend to someone who may need one. Do a little something extra for someone else. Go out on a limb. Drop off an iced coffee and give them a hug. Send them a note in the mail. Send them a text if you miss them. Or (gasp) actually make a phone call, instead of sending a text. I feel like we have gotten so electronically removed, and friendships have gotten so screen-based, that we've forgotten how to actually BE a real friend. In person. Face to face.
You don't necessarily have to be a BFF (best friend forever) but you can be a BFFN (best friend for now). You don't know the difference it might make in someone's day/week/month/year.