I’m quiet sensitive and often that side gets the better of me. I recently had a tearful breakdown when I heard of something hurtful that friends were saying about my family and I. I don’t want to focus on what and how it happened but, I definitely used this incident as a learning and reflection moment.
It got me thinking that it’s actually very difficult to maintain adult friendships. We go through so much personal growth and development in our 20’s and 30’s, that makes it hard to bring everyone along in the journey with you (sadly). We go into relationships, build careers, take care of family, have kids, experience success and failures, establish homes etc. – all of which make it so damn hard to take care of yourself, let alone your friends.
Friendship requires a great amount of mutual hard work and attention, but sometimes our periods of personal growth, require extra doses of self-care or isolation that may take away from our friendships. Your growth process may mean revaluation and redefining who you are. I believe that we can only be accountable for ourselves. A bit of selfishness and retracting from the rest of the world can sometimes be the only way to save and look after ourselves.
There are friendships that will fade out naturally – in these cases, nothing “happens”- no fights or bad vibes, but you just lose the connection and grow in different directions. Then you get the ones that end and hit you harder than some romantic break-ups! It’s truly heart-wrenching and it may take you a long time to get over them. Again, been there!
It’s interesting how almost all my friendships have changed over the years. I’m still friends with most of my childhood friends, but the nature of the friendships have changed. Instead of vibing every weekend, we get together for special occasions such as birthdays, weddings and holidays. I’ve accepted that it’s okay and enough. Everyone has to live their lives. We all have our own things going and that’s the beauty of life and friendship – being able to reconnect, laugh and create new memories after a long time.
The fact that we aren’t “obligated” to keep our friends (in the way we are to raising our children, for example), means that we have to make an effort and contribute towards the friendships that we do want to keep and grow. Here’s how you could do it:
Evaluate your friendships:
Be honest with yourself. Are you contributing to your friendships like you should, or like your friends are investing in you? Should you be making extra effort or cutting ties? Do you feel drained or energized by the friendship? Does your friendship feel like a safe space?
Leverage special occasions to reach out and reconnect:
Make extra (genuine) effort in your text messages and phone calls.
Schedule Play dates:
They’re a good way to keep the kids entertained while you catch up. Oh, and don’t forget about your friends that don’t have children!
Don’t take everything personally – (this is more a note-to-self). It’s okay to mourn and let go the friendships that are no longer serving you. Have the conversation, if necessary, and give yourself permission to cut ties if you feel you need to. Also, when a friend doesn’t reach out, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care – they may be drowning in their own mess.
Leverage social media:
We all do a fair amount of sharing on social media and it can be a great way to connect with friends. It’s not always possible for people to share all news in person, but social media can be a good platform to catch up, engage and live vicariously through our friends!
Through the ups and downs, I know that I definitely can’t live without the tribe of wonderful friends that I have in my life.
How do you stay connected to your friends?
Modern Zulu Mom