I’ve been truly blessed, particularly throughout these past 4 years, to have the opportunity to make friends with people in many different circles. And when I say friends, I don’t just mean people who I would say hi to if I ran into them. I mean people who I really care about, and who I know care about me, and who I share a piece of my life with. That doesn’t mean that every one of those people knows everything about me, but my relationships with them are special, and each fulfills an important role in my life.
Recently, I read an article detailing the difficulties of making friends once you’re in your 30s. Long story short: life gets in the way. We don’t have the same shared opportunities and experiences, like living together or mutually suffering through puberty, that make us open up to one another, and help us re-define who we are. This is why, while making new friends is AWESOME and I love it, having old friends is even better. While they obviously aren’t yet, I hope that the friends I’ve met through various avenues these past few years some day become my “old friends”.
Right now, my “old friends” consist mostly of my friends from high school. These past 4 years we’ve been split up – going to different schools in different cities, but we always manage to get together to see one another whenever there’s a holiday. That in and of itself is pretty special – I know most groups of friends don’t do that. In the summer, most of us are all in our hometown, but it proves to be difficult to see each other anyways. Between jobs, travel and study, it seems there are never enough hours in a day. Some people tend to see each other a lot, and others not so often. Often we get stuck in these patterns where we hang out with the same people over and over again. Or things are just so busy that before you know it, 2 months have passed and you haven’t seen any of your friends in the meantime.
This used to bother me. A LOT. I used to feel like if they weren’t calling me up every second week to hang out, that it meant our friendship was falling apart and they didn’t care about me. This, of course, is not only unreasonable, but also hypocritical. While I definitely make an effort to stay in touch with friends, life gets in my way too.
I’m definitely sad that our relationships have changed, that we aren’t always each other’s “first priority” anymore. This has been particularly difficult because my old friends also happen to be the people I still consider my best friends. However, this summer, I feel like I’ve come to a settled place, and accepted what an “old friendship” entails. It doesn’t require that you see each other every week, or that you talk every day. It doesn’t mean that your friendship has fallen apart if two of your bffs hung out together and didn’t ask you to join (dear friends – don’t take that as an invitation to hang out without me – I still want in!). Your lives are moving in separate directions – different interests, priorities, ways of life, groups of friends…it’s natural that you’re not going to fit into every part of that friends life, and they won’t fit into every part of yours. And with limited time, it’s natural that you won’t see them for quite a while. Your relationship with that person just changes, and is redefined by your new circumstances. You may have to accept that the way you envision and define your “best friends” isn’t necessarily the same anymore, but that doesn’t mean they’re not your best friends at all.
Here comes the corny part. What I think defines any old friendship, best friends or otherwise, is that no matter where life takes you, that person is ALWAYS somehow part of your life. That no matter what happens in between, you care about one another, and would always be there for each other. It may be weeks, months or occasionally years between seeing each other, but that person is always there somewhere in the back of your mind.
More importantly, no matter what you do that person will ALWAYS love you. At least, I know (think?) that this is the way it is with my friends. I was recently a full-out bitch to one of them, and when I apologized to her she jokingly said that she already knew I was a bitch so she wasn’t offended. While (I hope) it was intended as a joke, I think there’s also a lot of truth in that statement – she already knows all my worst habits&traits and has decided to stick with me this far – she’s not going anywhere at this point. For me, this is maybe the most reassuring part of old friendships – you can’t ever REALLY get rid of them, even if you suck!
So here’s to all my “old friends” who have, and continue to, bring me so much joy, reassurance and stability. And to my “new friends” who I hope will some day join the old. You’re all awesome, and I am SO lucky to have you.