Petty Woman…walkin’ down the street, Petty Woman…oh wait, that was me.
In my experience, there is a phase with women friends, particularly sorority girls, that around the time you graduate college you start “growing apart” from people who challenge you. As free time gets more precious, you choose to spend what little you have on the ones who never make you worry about protecting yourself. These friends are pure gold. They make you feel good about yourself, they cushion the bumpy parts of life, and they know you for the layers you’ve accumulated through years of experiences, not just what the people who meet you now see. I am blessed to have a large group of friends like this and we are closer than ever. They have my heart. I will always be loyal to them.
But what happens to the other friends? The ones who really did mean something to you when you were starting out adulthood, but you had minor falling-outs that through time and distance turned into completely losing touch?
The 20-something ego is like a balloon. The more inflated it gets, the more fragile it becomes. When your balloon gets too big, you have to start avoiding anything potentially sharp or rough. I’m talking specifically about relationships here.
Personally, my brain is geared toward a black and white viewpoint. I naturally see things in such stark contrast that it can be difficult for me to discern the little gray areas in between. This has made me exceptionally loyal to the friends that are still in my life, but it also made me overly dismissive of friends who were going through something I didn’t understand at the time. I see now that I spent a few years on a high horse, thinking that I was seeing things clearly but I didn’t recognize the temporary gray areas when black and white didn’t line up exactly.
Now I’m 30 years old and could not have guessed the surprise life had in store for me this decade. Meaningful girlfriends are trickling back into my life; people that I’ve missed greatly and didn’t even realize it until they came back. I’ve noticed that a lot of my girlfriends I went to college with are growing back together. I think part of it is that we want the world to be a kinder place to our children. We want our daughters and sons to look for the gray areas. We want them to see that sometimes people are just going through a thing. It’s their own thing, not about anyone else. We shouldn’t let our ego get so big and fragile that we can’t see around it.
I’ve had this conversation with a few of my girlfriends and it seems like when you turn 30 you realize how unique the opportunity was to forge relationships at a time when you were all on your own figuring out your personality for the first time without your parents. When you are friends with someone you LIVE with, eat with, go out drinking with, stay in and do nothing with, talk all night with, sit in comfortable silence with, cry with, occasionally bicker with, and laugh with, you know each other in a way no one else can. Some of the girls I lived with in college and right after know more about me than my husband does. Mainly because he doesn’t watch reality TV and I don’t discuss my weight, grooming, ex-boyfriends, or digestion with him…so that kills like 80% of my favorite girl-talk topics right there.
When I think about my ego balloon now, it has considerably deflated in the past 10 years. It takes up less space in my life now. It’s stronger and more flexible. I don’t shy away from people who challenge my version of myself. I own the fact that a lot of my disappointments in friendships were self-inflicted because I chose to protect my big, fragile ego instead of looking past it for gray areas that would help me understand.
I would like to know…have you experienced this? Do you have friends that are back in your life after years of hiatus? Has an old friend apologized to you? Have you apologized to them? Any thoughts from the Men? Please share if you’ve gone through this too.
I’ll leave you with some Pinterest quotes that really speak to my frame of mind in 2015: