The older you get, the easier it is to identify the worthwhile people in your life.
For one thing, whether you mean to or not, you begin to live according to a unique set of beliefs. The more engrained those beliefs become, the more important it is you surround yourself with people who will both agree and respectfully challenge your opinions.
EXHIBIT A: A few years ago, I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with friends who had zero interest in keeping up on current events.
It was the first time I found myself taking a step back to think, “What is the value of this friendship? What do each of us gain from talking to and spending time with one another?”
(And how can anyone actively choose to not stay informed? Add that to the growing list of side notes worth a separate post.)
It’s not that these weren’t good people. If that was the case, I wouldn’t have called them friends in the first place.
But as life becomes busier and your spare time more valuable, you have to carefully consider who or what is worth the effort.
In most cases, life makes the decision for you.
EXHIBITS B, C, D: You graduate school, change jobs, move to a new city and realize some relationships were built on convenience more than anything. Sure, you had things in common, but when you go months without speaking to a person you used to see every day—without batting an eye—your mind is pretty much made up.
Which is fine! Because as you grow apart from those people you also become closer to others. Every new job or city comes with new friends. Whether or not they stick around forever is anyone’s guess, but nobody’s saying you have to commit then and there.
I’m not writing this as a means to cope with recently cut ties (though I have recently found myself asking that value question) or the decision to make new friends. More as a reminder of how lucky I am to have the friends I do.
One high school friend is doing amazing things in L.A. and we still manage to catch up every few months. I don’t think I’ve actually seen his face in 3 or 4 years, but each time we talk it’s as though we just hung out the day before.
Cait may be in St. Louis but her awesome job sends her to Lincoln on a somewhat regular basis, and wouldn’t ya know it, she calls me each time it happens.
(Except we talk every day anyway, so it’s not like she’d get away with not telling me. But that’s neither here nor there.)
Nikki is in Wisconsin. Falco is in Minnesota. Sydney is in California. I’d be thrilled to see each of them just once a year, but those friendships are no less important then the ones I have right here in Nebraska.
And yes, some days are harder than others. Especially the days when all you want to do is see them and hug them and drink wine over a much-needed vent session that only they would understand—but they’re 500 miles away.
But knowing you have those friends, not just because you chose them but also because they chose you, is just as therapeutic.
The same goes for people you may not talk to all the time. I have two girlfriends from high school I chat with maybe once a month, plus dinner 3-4 times a year. But if I ever needed that aforementioned vent sesh, I’d feel okay calling them up to get it done.
If you caught yourself overthinking any of the above, take a quick minute to reflect on your relationships. Who makes you feel great? Who challenges you to be better? Who can you call for wine and rage and giggles on a Tuesday night?
Do they know how much you appreciate them? Call them up. Ask how they are and what’s new and did they see last week’s episode of The Bachelor.
Just make the effort.
If it’s reciprocated, you know you’ve got a good thing going.
If not, trust Life.
Title Credit: duh