Brevity is the soul of wit, which maybe is why I’ve been shying away from longer-form blog posts lately. That, and they’ve kind of fallen out of vogue as a medium, and also I’ve been feeling pretty depressed and uninspired.
But I’ve been thinking more and more about the role of friendship in adult life; what we as adults need (and don’t need) from our friends; and what we should seek from our friendships.
I can remember a time, mostly in adolescence and young adulthood, when nothing mattered more to me than my friends. I spent a lot of time fretting over who was “mad at me” or who was on the outs with whom or how I could navigate every little social interaction to maximize the goodwill of my peers. It was insanely stressful and occupied a shitload of mental real estate, which, at the time, I could spare.
But as you get older, your priorities shift and your social circles narrow. The perils of adulting rush in to fill the void previously occupied by friend drama. You start to contemplate your own mortality amid piles of bills, professional conflicts and setbacks, marriage troubles, and child-rearing. You find that you lack the bandwidth you once had for friend bullshit, because there is enough other more pressing bullshit to go around.
I realized a long time ago that I needed to adjust my expectations of friendship for sanity’s sake. That no one person can be all things to all people; that some friendships will always be one-way streets; that moments will arise when a person’s character emerges and you learn who your real friends are and who could really give two shits about you. I long ago gave up caring who was mad at me for no good reason and decided that my standard for friendship would be based on personal boundaries and mutual well-being.
The basic metric now is value-added. Adult friendship should support and buoy the rest of your life. It should add value. It should make life easier, not harder and sadder. It shouldn’t be a drain on an otherwise stressful and chaotic existence. It should be a refuge and a harbor—not yet another storm.
Here’s to calm seas.