With a new year starting, I have been reflecting on the good and the bad that occurred last year. I’ve noticed over the last couple years that even with the bad that has happened, generally I have been a much happier person! One of the major things I have noticed is the shift in my friendships, specifically the difference between my friendships when I was in my 20’s, and now that I’m in my 30’s.
In my 20’s I was still in university, and although I was broke, somehow I still had lots of money to spend on hanging out with my friends. It may of had to do with me living with my parents! I clearly remember being upset if I had plans on a Friday, but not on Saturday. It was as if not having plans with my friends on a weekend equated to having a terribly boring social life. If I had no plans at all, depression practically set in. I am exaggerating a bit here, but I had this nagging feeling that I needed to be doing something fun with my friends all weekend, and most weeknights if I could help it.
I think I had my most varied group of friends in my 20’s as well. In high school even when you are friends with different cliques of people, you usually spend a great deal of time with the same people over those years. My 20’s were so much more full of people coming in and out of my life. This was because I had high school friends who were scattered across colleges and universities, my new-found university friends, my friends from my various summer jobs and my first “real” jobs after university, and other friends I had picked up along the way.
My 30’s was when I finally learned what the difference was between a friend and an acquaintance. I thought that everyone in my life was a friend, but really so many of them could only be characterised as acquaintances. An acquaintance is someone you can socialize with and have some great times with, but if your car breaks down they are probably too busy to come by and help you (but they want you to call them next weekend to hang out).
I think the only influence having a baby had on my friendship revelation was time constraints. I didn’t have time to be everywhere anymore – I had to be much more choosy with what I could do with my spare time. Looking back this was a good thing for me because it forced to evaluate not only who I was socializing with, but WHY I was socializing with them.
I think the difference is that I’ve had life experiences along the way where people have actually PROVEN they are not a friend, but instead either an acquaintance or not a friend at all. There are those people that you spend so much of your time talking to about their relationship issues and problems, but the second you bring up something you are going through they are suddenly too consumed with their own problems to even listen.
I think back to some people I was friends with even a few years ago and say to myself, what were you thinking? I had some truly unhappy and negative people in my life that I am so happy that I cut ties with along the way. How did I know that it was the right thing to do? I didn’t feel a loss when they were gone – I just felt a bit lighter. There’s nothing worse then having someone in your life that doesn’t want the best for you, or spends time calculating who has more of what in the friendship.
I don’t think my friendship shifts are necessarily about having less time. Sure, I have less free time now than I did in my 20’s, but if something is important to you then you make time for it. I have friends that I literally drop everything for because I know they are so overwhelmed with their own lives that I will take any moment I can with them. I also have friends I only see every other month, and they are some of my favourite people to hang out with and I cherish spending time with them.
It’s the friends that don’t have the same regard for my own time I just let go of. There is no ill will on my part at all, but if someone doesn’t put any effort into me then I can’t just can’t continue to pull them into my direction.
One of the major things I try to focus on now in my 30’s is being happy, and what it takes to get me there. Although my 30’s are plagued with being carded at the liquor store less and less, an increased interest in anti-aging beauty regimens, and a newfound appreciation for sleep, my 30’s have also afforded me a bit more wisdom on my friendships and what’s truly important in them. I think that is why I am so much happier in my friendships now than I was before.