Something I've noticed as I've meandered my way to the wrong side of 25, is that friendships are harder to navigate as an adult than when I was at school. A lot harder! At school, you were grouped very randomly into form classes, then sometimes into ability for some subjects. But generally, you're shoved with other kids your age and left to it.
I was lucky at school in terms of friends. I landed on my feet and seemed to be pals with most of the cliques and friendship groups around, whilst maintaining my position in my own awesome friendship group. We had a laugh, it was school, ya know? The best days of your life? Certainly more simple days of my life, I can assure you!
But as I got older, conquered university and started living an almost-adult life, it was harder to meet people. I was no longer legally obliged to go to school and just be pals with whoever I found. I really had to work find a job or join a club to meet new people in my new town.
Friendships vs. Adulting
To cut a long story short, what I thought was a wide circle of friends has now dwindled to less than ten people whom I'd call my best friends. You know what I mean, don't you? The best ones who you'd panic text when you've totally mortified yourself in front of your date or call in the middle of the night when you're drunkenly stranded.
It gets harder to maintain friendships because we're all of a sudden in the 'real world'; one of work, long hours, difficult social calendars and empty wallets. We prioritise some things over others and before long, it takes a week to respond to a simple 'Hey, how are you?' text message.
You make the time
I'm going to make a controversial statement here, but bear with me... Mental health issues, babies and children, high-stress jobs, little free time* - these are all great reasons that you might not be so up on your communication with friends. I see the memes that apologise for being a bad friend, you were taking time for yourself etc. Which I totally believe in, might I add! I've been there myself, I've pushed away my friends; they weren't priority for a while.
But, let me be the wise one to inform you that although good reasons, they aren't good enough for not communicating with friends. It's harsh, but it's true. We all have mobile phones, and we all make the time for mindless social media scrolling. Heck, I've played a fair few hours of GardenScapes over the months. We are always with mobile phone. We all have the tools to communicate, so why don't we?
*Might I add, that this list is exactly why we need to communicate more. Jobs, babies, LIFE is hard. And we need people around us to rant to, to empathise with us, to tell us they get it. Sometimes we don't want to chat, and that's totally okay. But by getting caught in a cycle of poor communication with people, you're isolating yourself. If this is you, make yourself message one or two people today, get caught up on their life. Live further than yourself.
Having planned a 3 month jaunt to summer camp and then unexpectedly moving away for 14 months, I realised the importance of staying in touch with those best friends, because it dawned on me how far away from home I was and just how important that social interaction was (and still is). Living 12 hours ahead of most of your friends and family is one of those real world barriers that makes communication harder, but did it mean that I stopped bothering? No. You meet them halfway in Hawaii, you record 30 minute voice notes, you become penpals!
Returning to the UK for me over the past few months has been amazing, but chaotic and sometimes stressful. I'm flattered that people are desperate to see me after my disappearance into my best life in NZ, but I'm also disappointed at the lack of understanding too. If you want to see someone, tell them. Don't expect them (me) to turn up on your doorstep if you've not shown any interest in seeing them. A friendship is like any relationship. It requires love, care and attention to blossom. It's a two way street.
None of us usually have 'spare' time; must like so many of us don't have 'spare' change for someone asking on the street. We need our money, we need our time. But if something is priority, we make time for it. Who should you be making a priority?
If you want to spend time with someone, open your schedule.
If you think someone is important, tell them.
If you are busy, just send a text. Can't type? Try a voice note.
If you have left it too long? Just call them.
If you need to apologise, just bite the bullet.
If you are thinking of someone, let them know.