Making friends once you’re done with school is rough. It’s something I have been struggling with for a few years.
I’ve been talking with a friend from college a lot recently about meaningful friendships & finding those friendships that you want to invest in. We talked about the friendships that we had cherished for so long, that just weren’t really working anymore. How for a period of time, this was upsetting and we were jealous of other relationships we saw them investing in (damn you social media comparisons). But were those the relationships we needed in life? Maybe, as awful as it sounds, those friendships were meant to have a shelf life?
In school, you have plenty of opportunities to make friends – class, after school activities, sorority, campus organizations. Those friendships always came easy to me (for the most part – but if you ask my parents, they will most likely tell a different story). You were forced to make friends with classmates (OK, not really but how else would you make friends). You needed to make friends with people in your college classes to survive. You needed sorority sisters to lean out when things got rough & you wanted to quit school. It was always easy to figure out things you had in common.
But then you leave all those comforts. You step out in the “real world” and it is a different ballgame. Sometimes you start your first job & 95% of your co-workers are older than your parents. Your friends from high school have changed into different people – not that that is a bad thing. The college friends that you treasure so deeply no longer live within walking distance, now they are hours away. All the things that had become so familiar, have all changed. My first Sunday back at my home church, I didn’t know who anyone was anymore – the friends I looked forward to seeing each Sunday for such a large part of my life were no longer there each week. There were all these new faces and I didn’t know how I fit in there.
I don’t know what I would have done if my great friend Emily hadn’t moved to OKC after graduation. We talk about this all the time. She was my saving grace. If I wasn’t third wheeling with her and her husband (then boyfriend), I was usually sitting at home. That first year out of school, I texted my college friends all the time – but it was just surface level conversations, because how meaningful can a text convo really be? Overtime, some of those relationships began to dwindle. Our lives had started to change, we were all moving in different directions. And I was surprisingly OK with it.
I was constantly asking myself, HOW DO PEOPLE MAKE FRIENDS AS ADULTS? It’s a lot harder to put yourself out there without feeling like you look desperate. This is definitely the introvert in me coming out. I didn’t know how to put myself out there.
I made “friends” with some of my then roommates friends. I eventually realized though, those aren’t my people – they were their. BACK TO SQUARE ONE.
Someone suggested joining Junior League, and this has by far been one of my most favorite things. I have made wonderful friends, in just a year, that I feel as though I have known forever. We reignited our small group at church & I felt as though I found my people. These two groups of friends (plus Emily) are the ones I rearrange schedules for to spend time with, the ones who I can easily talk to about nothing with for hours without realizing, these are the friendships I want to invest in. All it took was the courage to say, “hi, I want to be friends.” I planned events to get to know them, I made an effort to form these friendships & work on every week to maintain.
So I started prioritizing my “old friends” (definitely referencing Ben Rector’s new song). I would text them, call them, plan to meet up with them when they were in town or I was in their town. I invested my time in the people who also invested time in me – something I learned was majorly important These are my old friends that I can’t imagine not being at my wedding (if it ever happens). The ones I want my future children to look to.
Now back to those “shelf life” friendships I alluded to. These are the ones I find myself clinging to sometimes. These are the friends that I text everyonce in a while to make sure they don’t forget about me. BUT THAT ISN’T HOW A FRIENDSHIP SHOULD BE! Friendships, just like relationships, are two way streets. And it didn’t matter how many friends I had, it was the quality of the friend (OK, this is where my parents would tell you, growing up I could only have 1 friend at a time, so see where I don’t find the importance in number). I’m learning to be OK with saying these friendships served their purpose and maybe it is time to move on. Sometimes this is easier, but dont let me fool you, there are a few I am struggling with learning how to move forward.
So there you have it. Friendships arent always easy, they take work to maintain & be meaningful in your life. Reach out to an old friend, cut out those “shelf life” friendships, put yourself out there, let your friends know you appreciate them.