How many times have you heard millennials (and you too, Gen Z!) complain of the difficulties of making friends? It’s something I see on any of my social media platforms practically everyday. Now, to be fair, there are some contributing factors that deserve mentioning. Byrdie says adult responsibilities, today’s “hustle-culture era”, and fewer age-specific curated activities are to blame for a decline in the number of new friendships. I definitely agree that the ever-changing life stages and phases play a huge role when it comes to making friends. But in my case, making friends hasn’t been a problem. I have, however, earned a new respect for the evolution of my existing and new friendships. I think some of my readers may be able to relate. Let’s dig in and discuss in today’s blog.
We’ve Got Something in Common
I can remember almost a decade ago around the time I was pregnant and even shortly after I gave birth. Entering that juncture felt so new and foreign, and I longed for connection with others who were also sharing that same experience. I found comfort in friendships with other first time moms. Upon realizing that so many other women were seeking that same sort of “safe shared place,” I even started a podcast with a fellow mom to discuss all the things we had in common in hopes of creating community and helping others. That’s often the basis of a lot of friendships. We find people who have things in common, and we build on those mutual experiences and feelings. These are beautiful friendships that can last, but they, too, go through their own kind of progression, and that’s normal.
I like to think of it this way. For me, parenthood was like freshman year of college. It’s a new experience everyone is having all together at the same time. In those moments, you believe it’s going to be this way forever. But five years later, some friends are going off to grad school across the country, some are moving back home, others are backpacking through Europe. The friend group is splitting up, and life all of a sudden looks incredibly different from what it did when you first met. This doesn’t have to mean those friendships die out forever. They just take another form. That group becomes more like the class reunion crowd rather than the everyday dorm-mates. I think it’s important to embrace that evolution.
Pinpointing Priorities in Friendships
Late last year I was interviewed by a magazine, and the reporter asked me about one of the biggest personal changes I’ve noticed in mindset as I get (slightly, lol) older. I remember saying something to the tune of, “I don’t need to be the coolest girl in the room anymore.” I thought about that sentiment as I considered the ebb and flow of friendships throughout our lives. That statement spoke to my changing priorities. Simply put, as I grow, so does my thinking. And honestly, yours probably does too. Growth inevitably leads to a shift, and when it comes to relationships, that can often mean that our friend groups get rearranged.
The Journey From Questioning to Confidence
When you’re younger and less experienced, it’s easy to make assumptions based on a snapshot. It can feel like certain people have it all together. Come on, you know that feeling. You see those women who seem to always be so polished, with perfect hair and perfect clothing. It might even be aspirational! Getting swept up in being a part of the cool crowd is easy when you feel like the whole world revolves around impressions and perceptions.
As my children have gotten older, my priorities have become crystal clear. I want to provide a beautiful life for my children, ensure my family is healthy, and take care of my own mental health. I care less and less about how I am perceived—especially when it’s based on superficial qualities. I’m way too busy building my empire and loving my family to care about someone else’s version of faux perfection. Does that make me selfish? Perhaps. In my world it makes me focused. When I began identifying the things that were important to me I found that I started attracting the right people. We’ll get into that more later.
Diversity and Discovery
I was born and raised in Southern California. That, along with my very unique childhood, set the stage for a true appreciation for diversity. I can find people from more cultural backgrounds than I can count just walking around my neighborhood, and I love that. As someone who spent a good deal of my younger years as a child model, on missions trips with my parents, and in one of the most diverse regions of the U.S., it has always been important to surround my children with a mixed bag of people and relationships. Our friend groups today aren’t just ethnically heterogeneous, they are varied in almost every way!
I love that my boys are witnessing their mom have friendships with other moms, with single guys that regularly accompany us on vacations, with business partners, with nannies who become more like family and more. You just meet people along the way at weird points in life who become your tribe. That’s invaluable.
Vulnerability as a Vehicle to Companionship
I mentioned earlier that I worked to build a motherhood community when my kids were very little. Well, once they got older and I became a single working mother with tons of entrepreneurial pursuits, I had less and less time to make friends. I felt secluded. Our life was…different. We traveled the world, even with the kids. I had a different kind of career. We just didn’t play by anyone’s rules! The ways other moms were making friends didn’t work for me. I couldn’t grab a coffee and croissant after carpool, and often, that sort of thing was required in order to maintain social status in those groups. It didn’t take long to realize I simply had no interest in that. So I ditched the shame I felt for not “fitting in”, ignored any judgment and set out to find my own group of “strange” people.
I’ll never forget the night after I hosted one of the first gatherings of Kingsley’s friends at our home. The kids had a blast, and the adults were warm, funny and kind. Interacting with them felt natural and refreshing. I cleaned up, put the boys to bed and settled down with a glass of wine. Deep in introspection, I sent a text to the group of parents. I thanked them for not only making the night a fun time, but also accepting me even though at times I felt like a bad mom who was disconnected from all the happenings while everyone else seemed so plugged in. My vulnerability was met with empathy and understanding. They got it. They got me. They got us.
Our homeschool hybrid bunch is filled with individuals who have become our trusted tribe. They love the kids, and they have home environments I want my kids to be in. We don’t talk or see each other every single day, but we rely on and confide in one another. I also treasure my legacy friendships with the highschool friends, mom friends and others I’ve met and linked with throughout my journey. We share genuine connections. That’s what I desire from my friendships at this stage in my life. So when friendships start to change, when those who were once so integral become a bit distant, don’t hold on so tightly that you miss what’s on the horizon. It might be exactly what you need. It was for me.