Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Skimming the Surface of Adult Relationships

When we're kids, it's pretty simple:
Toddlers just wanna be all up in all the business. They're little sponges, soaking up interaction with any and all humans and animals and things that can fit in their mouths, and their brains love when they see a face that looks about the same age as them. Easy. Oh, we reached for the same cookie, you must like cookies, and now we're best friends sharing a cookie.
Your favorite color is the same as mine? OMG BFFs.
We're in the same class at school, or the same gymnastics class or on the same baseball team. Now we're friends.
Oh, you've got a skateboard, me too! Let's skateboard together. You like going down the slide? Awesome, we're friends.
You're my next door neighbor? Easiest access to friendship ever.

When it's not your responsibility to vacuum or wash the car or make the money for the household or cook dinner, you've got tons of free time. In fact, parents put us in sports and various neighborhood activities to socialize and make friends and it's EASY. Because it's laid out for us. We don't have to plan it, we just show up and BOOM. Friends. For the making. Which is awesome.

But now we're adults. We have the bills and the commute and the job and ALL OF THE LAUNDRY and cooking and and and...the responsibilities. Why is it that when we're kids, all we want to do is grow up? How could I have NOT become the well-adjusted adult that it seems like most people my age are at this point? I mean, maybe we all put on great acts. Fake it til you make it, right? I don't know. I do know a couple people have admitted to me they don't have it all together either, which is comforting but it's also kind of disturbing...we can't be the only four people our age in the world who appear to have it together but who are literally breaking on the inside...? Right? WHERE ARE ALL OF YOU?! Come forth, let's band together and make it better.

Amidst all of the adulthood happenings, some relationships have faded away or imploded, some have remained steady or gotten stronger, and some new ones have come into the picture. Family relationships, friendships, romantic relationships.

Relationships change over time. Some things feel familiar and awesome, like being BFFs since high school or even before. Or like my relationship with my brother, which has actually changed for the better over the years. But learning how to be an adult in the presence of your parents, to whom you'll always be their child, is really hard. Knowing and being honest about what YOU really want, in light of the fact you've never actually made any important decisions for yourself your entire life (see previous post)...that's hard y'all.

Making new friendships and trying to fit them into the way your life has drifted together thus far is also really hard. We always seem to find friendships based on our life's categories, like where we work, whose parents are in our kids' playgroup or school class, etc. Which makes sense, right? But what if I'm the owner and leader of my business, therefore kind of a lone wolf, and crossing a certain line of friendship with employees is unprofessional? What if I don't want kids, so I'm never going to go to the playground or drop them off at preschool? Making new friends who fit into how our life is, is hard. I enjoy meeting new people, but's really hard to sufficiently maintain different relationships. Am I seriously the only one having these life troubles?

I'm having a hard time expanding my network and making new friends while also maintaining my "tribe." I'm at this place where I'm actively becoming a person who is very different than I was a few years ago, and the transition is really difficult. I fully realize and admit that this is happening to me WAY LATER IN LIFE than it probably happened to you (either that, or you'll all come to this realization when you're like 50). I discussed this in the previous post - I was in school for 22 out of my 31 years of life. So maybe that has played a role, I assume it probably does, because like the first season of Grey's Anatomy pointed out: when you're in school for the majority of your life, you're socially and romantically awkward. You've aged to the point of being an adult, but you haven't had the social interactions that adults outside of school have had. It's like childhood extended because you're with the exact same small group of people who happen to be in the same place as you doing the same the friendship or whatever relationship is sort of the default. You don't have to actively seek out and carve out special time for those who are important to you, because they're already right there. And in my case, keeping in touch with those people I had in my life before professional school wasn't all that hard - I lived 1700 miles away from where I had lived my entire life, so phone calls and Skype were what I had. I did learn about who back home still felt I was important in their lives, that's for sure. And I was super busy with school...with all of the people who were becoming my new, additional friends. The relationships with whom are actually really hard to maintain after we've all scattered across the country. So there's that, too. I miss them and it's hard.

Rather than rambling on and on about all of the above for longer than you care to continue reading, I'll cut to what I think I could do better, and some things that are on my personal development/goals list.

I have been using this planner called the Spark Notebook by Kate Matsudaira, At the end of last year, there were some emails she sent out to those of us who ordered the Kickstarter version of her 2016 planner, and the emails were basically four weeks of wrapping up 2015 and how to make 2016 a kick-ass year. Among various brainstorm/idea pages with life values and goals and assessment of "why," one of the pages wanted me to list the people who were the most important to me in my life. Those with whom I have a relationship that I truly value, with whom the relationship truly supports my life goals for the long term. This might not seem like a big deal to some of you, but my list was pretty enlightening. And I realized that some of those people were floating in the breeze, I haven't been in touch with them for entirely too long. I miss them. I value our relationship, but I haven't maintained contact with some of these people, and I NEED to.

So, one of my goals for this year is to practice good correspondence. Who's addicted to super cute stationary packs in the dollar zone at Target? Who picks up cute notecards in the clearance bins at the craft store? Who loves papercrafting (another one of my goals is to make time and space for more crafting) and making cards for birthdays and holidays? THIS GIRL. I have a ridiculous amount of stationary and card making/papercrafting supplies. I think I mentioned in one of my posts from a few years ago that I could probably open my own Hobby Lobby with all my own craft supplies, and a lot of that is for papercrafting. So, let's put it to good use! Keep in touch with the people who matter! They need to be told they're important to me just as much as I want to know how they're doing and what's going on in their lives.

That's one thing I can do to try to maintain adult friendships, is keep in touch with those who matter, no matter how far away we are geographically. In 2016, it really doesn't matter how far away we are anymore, given all the ways we can keep in touch now.

That's all for now, friends. Hope you found the little bit of optimism in this post, I'm trying to end this on a positive note rather than just keep ranting :P Enjoy the beautiful weather this week (I'm in the PNW, and it's just gorgeous right now)!

Next time I'll delve into more grown-up ish, and keep digging out from under the avalanche. Until next time, friends, thanks for reading!

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