Something that nobody ever fully prepares you for is how friendships change as one grows older. Sometimes it feels like it was a lot easier for me to navigate friendships when I was in secondary school or university. I guess because there is that common ground and more often than not you see your friends fairly regularly, if not every day.
But what happens once everyone graduates, or you leave a work place? That is where the real challenge lies. Truth is, we're all busy and life gets hectic at times. Life is also in seasons and sometimes not every friend understands or can go through every season with you. I've learnt that you really need to grace people and also manage your expectations when it comes to friends. Everyone cannot always be there for you at any one point in time but you can be there for yourself.
It also sometimes means that you inwardly lower your expectations but not from a place of trying to avoid disappointment but understanding that as humans we are limited. Sometimes your friends have nothing to give because they are empty and you cannot pour from an empty cup. Understand that and don't take it personally. It's hard to be there for a friend when you're not even there for yourself. And if we're all being honest we've had times when we are not only empty but emotionally dry and drained. In an ideal world one would communicate that and say 'Guys, I'm going through a bit of a rough moment right now so I'm not as available and I may not be forthcoming with texts or calls'. But life isn't always ideal and whilst it would be nice to receive such messages it won't always happen. Instead of taking things personally try and check up on a friend and see how they're doing or even just send a message saying that you hope they're well and whatever they're going through you are there for them, even in the silence.
Other times we should appreciate that a friendship was for a season and it was great whilst it lasted. Or maybe not. But either way appreciate the friendship for what it was and move on. We should also realise that not all friendships are intended to be 'deep' ; some friends are good to talk to Love Island about but maybe not the ones you go to when sh*t hits the fan. Other friends are good to talk to about your relationship woes but not the ones you go to when you want to share your funny life stories. But each and every single friend in whichever category matters and is important.
Most importantly friendship requires mutual understanding, respect and effort from both parties. A friendship cannot grow with one sided effort. It eventually collapses under the pressure as there is no support. Learn to talk through your issues instead of at each other. More often than not some of our friendships that broke down may not have needed to if one or both parties were better in handling issues in a friendship. A disagreement does not have to lead to distance and eventual disintegration of a friendship. Really, it should strengthen it. I'm glad that I've learnt and am continuously learning the importance of talking through challenges in friendship instead of brushing it under the carpet which I almost always trip over eventually.
Friendship should be fun, freeing and fulfilling. Invest in your friendships. Listen to what your friends have to say and don't take it personally when they call you out an aspects of your behaviour that they don't like. Nobody is perfect and a true friend tells you the truth about yourself.
What am I saying in essence? I'm just trying to figure out this friendship thing as a 25 year old and I've realised that I need to be more intentional the older I grow in maintaining, building and establishing friendships. A good friendship does not just fall on your lap; you have to work at it. There is so much advice about relationships but not as much on friendships yet both are just as important.
So here's to doing better and being better. Because we can all grow in our understanding of friendships.