I am so excited to welcome the lovely Amanda Koonlaba to Friendtastic Fridays! She has some reflections on friendship in adulthood that I know we can all relate to. Here are her thoughts:
True Adulthood: That psychological point reached when you stop seeing the world through rose-colored glasses and begin seeing it as a place that needs work.
As I’ve come into true adulthood, I’ve started having a different perspective of friendship. When I was a small child, a friend was whoever was around. My parents pretty much chose those friends. My cousins were my friends. My neighbors were my friends. Kids at church were my friends.
In my teens, it was whoever was involved in the same activities as me. So, it was pretty much the same as childhood. My parents had a lot more control over that than I realized at the time. They chose to allow me to participate in activities or chose to prohibit my participation in activities. They were the ones paying for things like cheerleading and show choir. The other kids who participated were my friends. We were always around each other.
In my twenties, I had to find my own friends. I was friends with people who knew my boyfriend at the time. I was friends with people who took the same classes as me in college. I was friends with the neighbors in the apartment complex where I lived.
When I reached my thirties, I reached true adulthood. I am well-aware that others probably reach this point much earlier than I did. It doesn’t really matter when that point is reached, we all get there.
I realized how messy everything is. I realized laws are not just laws, history is not just history, religion is not just religion. I realized everything is what it is because human beings are interacting with each other, hurling through time just bumping into the existence of one another like we’re trapped in a giant, mysterious pinball machine.
This is why I say true adulthood is realizing the world is a place that needs work. Friendship is not as much about who is around you as it was when you were younger. It becomes something you work at. Your friends are the people you allow to be your friends. You choose them carefully. Some of those true friendships are still the people who you played with when you were a kid. Some are the teenagers you cheered and danced with. Some are the people who took classes with you in college. Some are still your cousins.
It is true for me. I have some “ride or dies” from those times in my life that are still my close friends. It is harder now, though. We don’t see each other as often. Sometimes we just text or share a photo on Facebook. Sometimes we get together to sit at the funeral for one of our parents.
Life is messy. It can be so hard and so scary. However, I’ve really learned in my true adulthood that even though friendships change over time, those friendships which are chosen and nurtured are the ones that make the hard and scary times manageable. I’ve also realized that it is okay for friendships to change. Fluidity in our friendships is just a natural part of that pinball ride.
What matters is the work we do. We work at our friendships, our relationships with human beings. This is what makes the wild pinball ride seem somewhat controlled and doable. So, even though our world is no longer rose-colored, we do make our world a better place as a result.
Amanda Koonlaba, Ed. S., NBCT is the mother of two girls, Willa and Ruby, and a wife to Cherdchai Koonlaba, originally from Thailand. She is an avid education advocate and arts-lover. Amanda is on a mission to ensure every student in America has access to a high-quality arts-based education. Her arts education blog is Party in the Art Room.
Amanda makes the great point that as we grow up our friendship perspective changes. Friendship calls for intension. Even our nearest and dearest ones aren’t as accessible as they once were. Here are a few ways to let our friends know we value them:
- Call/text sweet things for no reason at all. Let your friends know that you are proud of who they are and that you are happy to have them in your life.
- Take note. When your friend says something new about her, write it down and follow up. It may be as huge as a job interview or as small as changing the preferred laundry detergent. If she mentioned it, it matters! Ask how it’s going. You’ll rack up in major friendship points with follow-up!
- Listen up. When your bestie is bummed or burdened let her words flow. Be the best possible listener. Say only things like “That sounds hard” “Tell me more” or “How do you feel about that?” Keep your ears open and lips slow. Sometimes our friends don’t need fixing. Sometimes they just need a safe space to say their thoughts out loud.
- Lighten up. Have you turned on the news lately? This world can be intense! Let’s be the friend that lightens the load, cracks the joke, sends the gif, overuses emojis, and leaves voicemails of only quotes from the our favorite shows. It’s a fun job and somebody’s gets to do it. Let it be us!
I love to hear from you! I know you have great ideas! How do you show your friends you care?