10 things I learned about friendship in my 20s
When I was two I met my very first friend, my brother, Kevin. Yes, he is my sibling, but he was also my first glimpse at what friendship was all about. Now at our ripe old ages of 29 and almost 31, I can honestly say that my brother is one of my greatest friends in my life.
In the last two decades I’ve learned a lot about friendships, from the ones I started in pre-K in the small town in Texas I grew up in to the ones I’ve made in my professional life. I’ve never been someone who’s swarmed with friends; rather, I have a couple really close ones who don’t mind if I call at odd hours to talk about my life. Here’s what I’ve learned.
It’s OK if some friendships aren’t as close as they used to be
It took having my heart shattered and moving to Las Vegas at 21 to figure out what it meant to have true friends in my life. I knew that there would be some friends I would hold on to, and some I’d known my entire life who I would have to let go of, that we would grow apart because of the distance. It doesn’t mean I don’t love those people, because I always will. It just means that when the time comes that neither party is giving their all into the friendship, letting go is the best thing to do. The respect will always be there and so will the fond memories. If you have a friend break-up, or just a friendship that isn’t as tight-knit as it used to be, that’s totally OK. Be glad for the time you had.
Acceptance is everything
Differences are always wonderful parts of being human. Instead of looking at them negatively, we should all learn to look at them with a positive heart. Investing in a friendship means accepting each other in spite of the differences you have. It doesn’t mean you have to agree all the time or even see life the same way, it just means that no matter what, you accept each other always.
Get good at listening
It is always easy for me to talk. I do it quite well and sometimes even too much. But friendships cannot thrive off of one person talking about themselves all the time. So even when it may feel like you “have” to say something in response to your friend’s dialogue, learn to listen instead. Being a world class listener is being a world class friend. Being that listening ear when your friend is sharing her fears or insecurities will do more for your friendship than interjecting with your opinion every chance you get.
Space is good and necessary
Just like in any romantic relationship, giving your friend some space to get through their own life is not only important but necessary. Space alleviates tension, personal obstacles, stress, and helps to give your pal time to work things out on their own. You don’t have to see each other all the time or even speak every day. In a solid and secure friendship, space is never an issue or worry. Instead, it is the ultimate gift you can give to show your friend just how much you respect their individual worth.
Say what you mean, not what you think
Most of my girlfriends will say that I am pretty blunt. I am honest to the core, but never out of maliciousness or to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m honest because I care. Sugarcoating or saying something you think your friends want to hear is not only being dishonest to yourself, but most importantly to them. True friends understand that being honest is always the better option that being told a lie. So say what you mean to say and trust that your friend will thank you for your honest heart.
Show up when you say you will
No one likes a flake. When you tell someone you will be there for their birthday and then don’t show up, you not only look like a jerk, but you also consciously know you will be letting someone down who cares about you. Being a great friend means showing up when you say you will. If you know you won’t be able to make an event or gathering, or you would rather just stay home and relax on your only day off, stick with being honest and let them know.
Don’t compare their friends to YOUR friendship
In life, you will have friends who, of course, will have other friends besides you. Being okay with that and not getting jealous or comparing your friendship to their other ones is vital to keeping your friendship afloat. And anyway, comparing yourself to their friends will only rob you of the joy and fun you have together. So let them be friends with others outside of yourself and embrace the time you two get to have together.
Make time for one another
Whether it is a text thanking them for being a great friend or meeting for lunch during a crazy busy week, learn to make time for each other outside of the chaos. Small gestures go a long way and making the effort to reach out and see how they are just shows you care. Your friend will feel the love and respond back with it as well.
It’s okay to call them out
Say your best friend is in a mood and they go off on you because of something entirely unassociated with you. If they cross the line or treat you badly, it is okay to call them out. Let them know that you are there for them if they want to talk, but picking a fight won’t help anything. Remind them that you love them and are there for anything life throws their way, but that you aren’t okay with them treating you poorly. A good friend will apologize and remember that you are only there to help.
Never stop learning about each other
Even if you have known your friend for 20 years or just a few months, never stop getting to know them. I am constantly finding out new things about my friends, even my friend I have known since I was nine. New things are fun and exciting, and spark new conversations and ways to connect. So ask questions, stay curious, and keep growing your friendship
Kim Trevino is a dreamer of all things life, love, personal growth, and kicking ass. Although she only stands at 4’11” she embraces it with a mighty force and sees it as one of her best attributes. In her spare time she can be found with her nose in a book, spending time with her loved ones, creating art, and writing (of course).
[Image via HBO]