Navigating Friendships in Your 20’s – How to Ebb and Flow Without Losing Your Mind

I knew transitioning into official “adulting” wasn’t going to be easy. I was under no illusion that I would be living my best Sex and the City life immediately, a life full of vacations, family, dating, girls trips, and wine nights on the couch. I was prepared to live on a tight budget and learn about the world of paying bills. But, what I wasn’t prepared or, was seeing my friendships change.

I LOVE my friends. Like, I ride for my friends. I may get irritated occasionally and need a break, or unintentionally take more than 24 hours to reply to a text message. But, when it’s all said and done, I LOVE my friends.

My friendships are incredibly important to me. I’ve been blessed to have so many amazing friendships throughout my life. I’ve loved and been loved by many. Some friendships faded away with distance. Some live on and thrive with less frequent communication. And other people, I know I likely may never see again, but I look back on our time together with nothing but love, fondness and a desire for my sis to live her best life.

But, lately, I’ve been noticing some tension in certain friendships and have been aware that some things are changing. Not necessarily in a bad way, and not necessarily in a good way. They’re changing in a natural way as my friends and I figure ourselves out. As we embracing new jobs and work schedules, get into relationships, move back home, move to pursue a new career opportunity, and explore what we want, my girls and I are all on individual journeys to live our best lives.

As we’re on these paths, we’re growing. Meeting new people. Seeing new things. Dreaming new dreams. And, it’s all a beautiful thing. But, sometimes, as we grow and go through things as individuals, it can feel like we’re growing apart. Not because of lack of love or lack of appreciation for each other. Just because of … well, life.

From boys, to babies, to financial struggles, to financial come ups, there’s so much that happens in the years after college. I’ve found it to be slightly overwhelming at times.

I went from being a college student who regularly wore her purple, Barney-looking bathrobe to the dining hall regularly to a working woman who wakes up before 6am (who am I??) and is at work by 7.

A woman who pays bills, and spends money I used to spend on clothes on maintenance for my car. I am an ADULT ya’ll and it is shocking. My girls are adults too and we’re all figuring out this adulting thing together.

But, growing and figuring out our lives doesn’t mean we have to let go of or grow apart from all of the women who’ve been so influential in getting us to this point. In fact, we may need our sisters now more than ever.

The Lord and my close girlfriends know I’m no friendship expert. I’m not always the best friend to the people I love. But, I want to be the best friend that I can be to my girlfriends during this season of wonderful, crazy, scary, stressful, beautiful things.

Here are a few things I’m learning along my journey:

Significant Others are Wonderful. But, make sure to let your girlfriends know you’re still there.

I’ve learned that having a significant other is wonderful. But, it’s always been important for me to maintain a balance, so my friends know that I’m still there for them and haven’t disappeared into a world of relationship-bliss and shut them out. It’s not always easy to find this balance, though. When we fall in love, our brains and bodies become addicted to our significant other in a way.

We want to be with them. We want to tell them everything. We begin to think about what a future with them will look like. But, no one can be our absolute everything. Maintaining relationships with your girlfriends is essential to your health and to the health of your relationship!

After all, your man may not always want to be the one watching Say Yes to the Dress with you. Significant others and friends are blessings. They’re both important and valuable. So, make sure to make time to invest in and cultivate all of the relationships in your life.

Phone calls are your bread and butter. Texting is your lemonade.

We’ve all been in a situation where one of your best friends moves away or for some reason isn’t as readily available as they used to be. Texting may become the quickest way for you two to connect with each other with your busy lives and schedules.

But, texting doesn’t sustain friendships. Talking does. Make time to talk to your friends on the phone. You may have to schedule FaceTime dates. Or, you may have to play phone tag for a while until you can finally find a time when you’re both free. Whatever you have to do, do it. It’s worth it. Always.

I’m not great at this. But, one technique that helps me out is writing down a list of all of the friends I need to call and check in with. Then, each day or couple of days when I have free time, I’ll choose one of them and reach out. There’s nothing like hearing their voices after way too long! Phone calls are your bread and butter. So, “eat” as much of them as you can.

Accept that there’s an ebb and flow to friendships.

This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. I’m still learning it! I’ll never forget venting to my grandmother over the phone about how one of my best friends moved away. I was upset because I didn’t hear from his as often and felt like I was putting in all of the work.

She responded like the queenly, wise woman that she is and said “Saundra, it’s okay for friendships to get distant for a while. That doesn’t mean it’ll be distant forever, she said. I remember feeling my entire body relax as I let this sink in. My grandmother proceeded to tell me that she’s been friends with some people for more than 50 years. She said, the secret to these life-long friendships was allowing them to take on their ebbs and flows, trusting that they would come back together.

Sometimes people go through things. Sometimes people get busy and have new priorities or responsibilities in life. Try not to take it personally, because more often than not, it’s not! My grandmother said that the secret to having friendships make it through the ebbs and flows is always expressing and communicating love and support for your friends. That way, they know that you’re still there. Still loving them. And still supporting them. Even if it’s from a distance for a while.

Friendships are one of the most important investments you’ll make.

Friendships are important. They enhance our lives, inspire us, and help us to grow. Maintaining friendships takes effort and intentionality. But, putting in the time and the effort is one of the most important and most rewarding investments you can make.

When I have periods of feeling distant from my friends, I’m always reminded of how wonderful it is to be with friends when we finally come together again. If you haven’t talked to your girlfriends in a while, reach out! Let them know you’re thinking about them and that you love them. Let them know you’re still there. And watch your investment grow.

As I mentioned, I’m no friendship expert. I’m still figuring out how to do this myself. What I do know, is that it’ll be worth it. Xoxoxo – Saung


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