(Two very important ladies are missing from this photo – one arrived at our pre-wedding festivities later, and one sadly couldn’t be here. That being said! KM, BS, TF, LP, CQ, and AS – this post is for you. Also, BK, you’re a forever honorary member of this girl gang. You have all my love.)
I wrote briefly about this topic on Tumblr, but I’m not done exploring the idea. I guess that’s what this actual blog is for!
I want to talk about what I’ve found to be the most beautiful part of being almost-30. I joke a lot about being an old fart – besides a few nights in Disney World, I can’t remember the last time I went out anywhere after 9pm. My body reacts to injury so much worse now, and there have been more than a few occasions where I have to Google things from Twitter because I truly don’t know what young adults are talking about anymore.
In high school and college, your friends are your everything. Your own worth is measured solely by the people you surround yourself with. I’m lucky that social media wasn’t a thing when I was in high school, because I would have gone truly crazy trying to meet the standards of maintaining an Instagram showing the perfect social life. When you don’t fit the conventional standards of popularity, the pressure is that much harder on you. So, when you find a small circle that thinks the way you do, you latch the hell onto them.
The thing that happens when you’re out of school is what I’ve been thinking about lately. Suddenly, you don’t have the guaranteed social circle of classmates. You have to go out and make your own tribe of like-minded people, people who will challenge you to be a better version of yourself. As you form that circle, you realize that the other people, the ones who had been on the periphery of your social circles, the people who you kept up with out of necessity more than sincere caring… they don’t need to play as active a role in your life anymore.
That realization was the most freeing experience of my late-20s. Instead of sitting through small-talk coffee dates and cursory scrolls through Twitter, I could (and should) focus my attention on the 10 or so people who have shown me they aren’t going anywhere. That’s not to say I’ve stopped caring about the people who may not play as large a role in my life now, but I certainly don’t feel compelled to see them beyond the occasional chats where we fill each other in on our lives and move on.
The other benefit of a shrinking social circle has to do with friendships that have, for whatever reason, come to an end. For a really long time, I was stuck in the mental trap of wondering why said friendships ended, and what said people were up to post-me. I never kept up with them from a place of anger or pettiness – to be quite honest, I want good, positive things for them. I did it from a place of genuine curiosity.
Now that I’m a few years removed from my last ~dramatically ended friendship~, I can look back and say that my life is no longer made better (hell, or made anything) by scrolling through their social media or asking about them to still-mutual friends. I no longer feel pangs of hurt or betrayal or disappointment when I think about what was or what could have been. I can watch movies we enjoyed together, listen to songs we blasted… and I can make new memories, for myself.
The best part of this seemingly-negative revelation has to do with my current circle of friends. I can count on two hands now, my dearest friends, and I finally get the adage of quality over quantity. There are six beautiful women who I consider my best friends. They’re all different, they’re all smart, funny, loving, and inspiring. One has been in my life since 2005, the rest have entered more recently, but they all work together to fill up the places in my heart that were once left abandoned by petty high school fights, evenings of lonely depression, and 29 years of anxiety.
I’m not writing this post to brag about my girl gang (although, let’s be real, these women deserve several posts dedicated solely to their awesomeness). I’m writing because those feelings of abandonment are, unfortunately, something everyone goes through. I’m writing to give the self-proclaimed unlovable weirdos (I swear I was president of that club) some hope – you will find your tribe. You will be able to make friends as a post-grad, and those friends, if chosen well, will be the people who stand by you at your wedding and for the rest of your life.
I hope you all have a lovely Sunday, readers! Hug your friends today, and if you can’t see them, send them some love-filled texts… Galentine’s Day is coming!