Do you remember back in kindergarten where the simple act of sharing a box of crayons instantly made you best friends with the rest of the class? Yeah... Those were the days. Unfortunately, as an adult with errands to run, looming deadlines, and that pile of dirty dishes piling up in the sink, it has become significantly harder to make and maintain friendships.
Just like every other relationship in our lives, whether it is familial, romantic, or a friendship, they all require a certain amount of effort, on both sides. Everyone is busy, no doubt about that but what matters is what you make time for. As we get older, life inevitably changes right along with us. You may have already found that the friendships you made in high school or university have begun to fade and let me be the one to tell you that that is okay. It is okay to no longer have the same desire to party every night alongside the friends you went to university with or have the same goals as your best friend in the tenth grade.
As we grow older, our priorities shift. Whether our careers are taking us across the country, we start receiving more wedding invitations or our families begin to grow, the connections you made may not follow you through these transitions. But, what doesn't change is our innate need as women to form important female friendships in our lives and our desire for connection. Take the time to look around you - who is it who is meeting you for a quick coffee to catch up or who texted you to see if you had the time to go for lunch this Thursday? It is hard to keep in touch, but ultimately, you get to choose who you surround yourself with. They say you represent the five people you spend the most time with so make sure these people are align with your own values. It is not to say that you do not like the people that you have lost connections with along the way, it just means you simply took separate paths, made different choices, and that’s okay too.
I would like to briefly tell the story of how I came to be connected with the wonderful group of women that I surround myself with today. Growing up, my friend group was always on the smaller side. This was not because I was not sociable, quite the opposite to be honest. I just had the tendency to pick a few friends and stick loyally with them. While working hard at maintaining my current friendships, I began to become more involved in organizations around me. As a student, the most natural step was to join a club on campus, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. I now have a, once again small, but genuinely supportive group of friends I can turn to for anything and everything.
While we all acknowledge we are busy and scheduling dinner dates is not always an easy feat, we also acknowledge that maintaining our friendship is a choice. Although changes in life may lead us on differing paths, friendship is still a choice that we all want to continue to make for many more years to come.
As some key takeaways, here are three tips for building and maintaining friendships:
1. Get Social
In the world of social media, the ability to connect is instantly at our fingertips. My friends live for group chats. It makes it easy to send messages about locking in plans, or just to ask how everyone's day is going. A small check-in like, "Thinking of you. How was your day?" goes a long way.
2. Get Going
For the times where dinner plans don't work out, try integrating your friends into your day-to-day routine. Go get groceries together, walk the dog together or attend your regular workout class together. You will find that errands are made much more fun when you have a friend alongside you.
3. Get Involved
Like I said before, this is how I found my tribe and I am sure the same can happen for you. Volunteering is a great start in connecting with those who are like-minded and share common interests. Sharing similar interests and goals is a sure way to keep any friendship burning.
Words by Cailin Murphy