Learning how to maintain friendships after undergrad has allowed me to discover what it takes to feed all of the relationships in my life. But before I get to that, let me take it way back.
Do you remember when you were younger, and everyone was your “friend”? Well, maybe not everyone because some people had cooties, but everyone else. You literally referred to all of your peers as your “friend.” Interesting, right?
Somewhere down the line, and many years later, you became more than capable at differentiating what kinds of friendships are in your life. You have acquaintances, friends, and then your best friend(s). Note the difference.
Your acquaintances, well, you just know them. If you saw them on the street you’d, give them a wave, a head nod, and maybe even have a quick conversation.
Your friends are the people you see on what seems to be a regular basis, and you have a good amount in common.
But your best friend(s), you guys are inseparable. You talk to them about almost everything, and in some cases, they know you better than you know yourself.
At this point, you’re “grown,” whatever that means, and you understand that all of these relationships take a different level of effort to maintain. You spend more time and energy on your best friends than your friends, and the same can be said for acquaintances.
But then you graduate. As exciting as that is, it causes you to reevaluate the relationships in your life without even knowing it. You move off to wherever, to do whatever, and all of a sudden you don’t see your acquaintances, friends, and most importantly your best friends every day anymore.
This is where the friendship learning curve begins. Think of it as a pop quiz you didn’t prepare for. For the longest time, your friends were within arms distance of you.
If you needed to talk, well, you’d see them tomorrow. If there was a point of conflict, you could always go over and work things out. If you wanted to celebrate, you called an Uber and hit the nearest bar. But now, it’s not so simple.
Discussing your day or your week is phone call that has to be scheduled on the calendars of two extremely busy people. You’re not around each other anymore, so the go to conversation about mutual events doesn’t really apply, and you both have changed a lot since the last time you saw one another in person. Maybe what they find entertaining doesn’t pique your interest anymore. Or maybe where you see yourselves in the future doesn’t align. Now what?
You built such a strong foundation for your friendship, but time, space and growth are tearing it apart.
This is where the hard questions come in, but none as hard as this one.
Is this relationship worth investing your time in anymore?
While this question could be answered with one word, it’s usually not. There is so much that goes into giving a definitive answer. But it’s something you have to ask and answer for yourself.
I’ve had to ask myself this question many times in the past year, which is why the experience of maintaining relationships after college has helped me better understand what it takes to sustain all of the relationships in my life.
It all comes down to effort. If you deem a relationship worth investing in and/or fighting for, then that’s what you’ll do, and hopefully, that person will do the same for you. It’s tough to keep friendships going once there is space between you. Sometimes it’s just as hard when you’re geographically close, but your schedules don’t align.
With that said, many times these inconveniences become our biggest excuses as to why either person does not want to put effort into the relationship anymore. Again, if you deem a relationship important enough to you, you’ll find a way to make time for it, and if the other person does too, they will do the same. People make time for what’s important to them.
This is why, if you feel like your efforts are not being reciprocated, it might be time to have a conversation or downgrade the status of the relationship all together. That just means you’ll give less effort to that relationship overall, because you’re not as close as you once were.
Whether it’s calling your parents every week, planning a FaceTime date with your best friend, or an actual date with your significant other, all relationships require effort. But as circumstances change, the effort you’re willing to put in to maintain the relationship weighed against what the relationship means to you must be evaluated.
What can I say, it’s part of being an adult and truly adulting.
So with that said, no matter where you are in your life, recent grad, full on adult, high school student, etc. this lesson is applicable. I hope through this blog post you are inspired to better define the relationships in your life and figure out which ones are and are not worth your time and effort.
Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life!