Sep 20, 2011

Friendship is Tough

I was reminded recently of a quote about friendship: Friends come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

The reminder came at a thoughtful time for me. When I turned 30, I remember my older girlfriends telling me that our 30s were such an important turning point as women, because it became a time where you learned to recognize the truly quality people who came into your life, how to keep those ones around, and how to not give a shit about the others and just move on.

I think it was really the latter part that was supposed to suddenly materialize, and it seemed so life-altering to me. In our 20s especially, or at least was my experience, women just seem to get so mired down with the drama of our friendships. "She said what about me?" "Well you know what I heard about her?" Even just remembering how it used to be makes my brain hurt.

So I was relieved to hear that my 30s would mean some great turning point in my life, where I would be able to step back from those type of situations and say: "You know what? This is bullshit and it's just not worth it. Moving on." And I really have tried to keep that mindset since then. I just don't want to spend my time and energy on people that suck away at my happiness. Life is too short. Maybe that's all it's about - turning 30 and realizing that life moves so fast, we cannot afford to waste any of it on crap like that.

If only it were that easy. I'm 32 now, and I still struggle with this lesson. That's why the reminder was good for me to hear. It's important to put things in perspective every once in awhile.

I've written before about female friendships and how, in many regards, they are more complicated than the relationships we have with men. I still believe that. Even my friendships with men are not as complicated as those with women. And many times, when I'm trying to navigate a tough time in a friendship with a woman, I totally understand why men think we are so difficult to figure out. Just sayin'.

And so I think that learning to recognize that someone might be a "reason friend" or a "season friend" is important for me in knowing when to move on. Because it's hard to give up on friendships or choose to put that person on your back burner when their shit is too much to deal with at the time. Maybe it was all that time in Girl Scouts ("Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold") that makes it hard for me to let go of friendships, even when it's clear that they have run their course and are ready to be cycled out.

I'm also not saying that I can tell at the time, necessarily. I guess what I'm saying is that I will still focus on moving on when I need to, and understand that time will tell me what I need to know about that friend.

If she was just a season friend or a reason friend, I probably won't hear from her again and we'll go our separate ways. Or she'll just stay on the outer circle from then on, maybe just someone I only see occasionally, but not a friend I confide in daily like my inner circle friends.

If she was really a lifetime friend, she'll be back eventually and we'll find a way to work things out. I recently experienced this with two friendships I thought had been lost. Reconnecting with those women made me realize that they will probably be my friends for the rest of my life. I guess that's why we say that conflicts make our friendships stronger - we learn who's in it for the long haul and who's just around for the time being.

And the rest? I guess I'll figure it out along the way.


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2 comments:

  1. I can definitely relate to this post. When you get older, your priorities change, which can affect your friendships. Also, what's important to me may not be important to some of my friends, because we don't have as much in common as we did when we were in school. So that often makes it harder for us to relate to each other.

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  2. Being friends is tough. I've pretty much spent the last couple years, myself, figuring out who the quality people in my life were. I think sometimes when we grow apart from a friend we fail to see the reason why, it often being more complicated than the reason on the surface.

    I also think friendships fall on hard times for one reason or another and we need time apart to sort it out.

    You two will figure it out I'm sure, if not cherish your memories and the reasons she was your friend :)

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