Okay I’m going to do something today that scares me, I’m going to mention my age. *Gasp!* Right? I hate when I have to tell someone how old I am, and I hate when I myself remember I’m not 19 anymore (definitely my favourite age). But here we go, I’m biting the bullet… I’m 29 years old. I know, you probably think I’m silly for having such an issue with age. I wish I didn’t, but I can even remember on my 21st birthday shedding a few tears because I ‘didn’t want to grow up‘ – seriously. It was a fun birthday, har har.
Being 29 is terrifying, let me be honest. 30 is looming around the corner (I have 7 months to go) and I don’t feel ready to be a ‘proper’ grown up at all. I do however feel I’ve spent my twenties well, and learned a few things along the way. I’ve dated a few people, found the man of my dreams, got engaged, moved 300 miles away from home, made new friends, started a scary new career, took chances, changed my mind, changed it again, embraced who I am and made many a mistake too.
Without a doubt one of the greatest things to develop throughout my twenties has been my friendships. I have friends I’ve known since school, friends who have watched me go through puberty (fun), friends I’ve met at gigs, friends I met through Myspace (yep), friends I found in College, friends I found in Uni, friends I met through other friends, friends from work, friends who are much older than me, friends who are a little younger than me (I’m clearly still miffed I’m not 21 like them) and friends I can’t even quite remember how we met.
I have different memories, experiences and relationships with them all; but I can confidently say my friendships have all gotten better with age. Whether old or new friends, I feel like I’m now at a place where I get the most out of real friendships, and I feel like I’m a better friend now at age 29. Here’s why…
6 Ways My Friendships Changed In My Twenties
1. Acknowledging change.
One of the clearest lessons I’ve learned in my twenties, is that life changes. Whether you think you know what you’re doing, or you think you have it all planned out; shit can change real fast. This goes for friendships too. I’ve experienced my friends changing before me, taking completely different paths to me, and ultimately leading a very different life to when I met them. Sometimes this causes you to drift apart, and that’s not a bad thing. But mostly I’ve learned how to acknowledge that change, cheer them on, respect them, and still keep that friendship strong. These are the friendships that will stand the test of time. No matter how far apart we are, these people will always be my besties. You know who you are!
2. Stop caring what people think.
I never realised in my teens just how much I cared what my friends thought; but when I look back now, it pains me! I was so excruciatingly careful with what I did, what I said, who I was with, what I looked like, what opinions I had. All because I wanted my friends to like me as much as possible, and god forbid I ever stand out. These days I couldn’t give a shit. I don’t care about being cool, I don’t care about having ‘the best’ of anything, and I don’t have time to be anything but myself. Obviously I want my friends to like me and love me, but I figure they either will or they won’t. I can’t live my life trying to please others, and I need to spend every single day being true to myself. It’s how I want my friends to be too! I now enjoy the differences between us all. They have different hobbies to me, they might like different things, we might have opposing opinions on things; this is bloody brilliant. I don’t want to hang out with a gang of Jemma’s! (I reckon I’d piss myself off pretty quickly.)
3. Making more of an effort.
Gone are the days we were all in a classroom together all day, or working the same shifts at work each week, or even just being free of all responsibilities. These days my closest friends in the world have demanding careers, children, live across the country, etc. So seeing them is now a rare but wonderful thing. In my teens I never had to plan anything, it was easy to live spontaneously and it was hella fun. It’s kind of impossible these days though, which sucks. But it’s not all bad, because it means we genuinely make time dedicated to each other now; rather than just happened to be near each other with nothing else to do. I feel like each friendship is just that much more special to me now, life in your twenties teaches you to nurture them.
4. Not getting offended easily.
Maybe I’m generalising here, but even within all my different friendship groups; I can confidently say that for the most part, life has taught us to stop being offended easily. I can remember being 17 and fuming a bit that my mate had moved me down a notch in her Top 8. Yes, TOP 8 – remember that??? No? Go away you fetus, before I cry. Anyway, that seems ridiculous to me now, and I feel so much more carefree now at 29. I’m not offended if my mate has to cancel plans (it happens), I’m not offended if she doesn’t talk to me everyday, or week! I’m not offended if she has a different opinion to me, I’m not offended if she hangs out with other people. All I care about, is mutual respect, honesty, having a laugh, and making an effort when possible.
5. Having more confidence.
There are friends I’ve grown up with, who now have kids and marriages and houses and flourishing careers. They lead busy lives, and so they don’t have time for uncertainty or second guessing things. These are the people who now tell me when I’m acting a top twat. These are the people who will tell me when I’m wrong. You’d hardly imagine that they were once young teens a bit more hesitant to say anything ‘in case it looked bad’. We’ve all grown more confident. We know what makes each other tick, we know when we should be honest and we know when our friend needs pepping up a little. We understand that there are times when something is too important to stay quiet, and I love that.
6. The friendships are deeper.
With all my friendships, whether old or fairly new; I feel like they are much more substantial now that I’m a little older and wiser. I will reveal parts of myself I wouldn’t have felt confident enough to someone in my teens, and I’ll feel closer to my friends for it. I also feel much more comfortable giving advice on certain things (I never do unless I know what I’m talking about) and I feel that I can provide a great ear for friends to talk to, if needed. People know they are getting the real me, and I know I’m trying to be a good friend. It makes for a deeper connection.
This post is dedicated to all my friends, old or new. Those who know me inside out, and those who are just scratching the surface. Thank you for being the bestest ever!
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