If there is one thing I've realized since graduating college, it's how difficult the murky waters of your 20s can be to navigate, especially when it comes to maintaining friendships. Once the doors crack open to the "real world," it seems you — and everyone in your close-knit circle — immediately sweep under a massive wave of change.
Whatever the case may be, one of the toughest realities to grasp is that priorities will start shifting to accommodate these new chapters. They just have to. It's the only way we will continue to evolve as individuals. But the good news is that, no matter how much of a frenzy life becomes, you don't have to cut the ties of a meaningful relationship. Below are four tips for maintaining friendships, despite experiencing various life stages.
1. Remain determined to keep in touch.
Regardless of how busy life gets, let's face it: no friendship will last long on autopilot. So if you're not committed to preserving your bond, it's not going to happen. Therefore, if you want any relationship to last, you must remain determined to keep in touch. Whether it's a call, text, or my personal favorite, a darling piece of snail mail, staying connected — on a regular basis — is one of the most important ingredients in the recipe of friendship.
2. Carve out time to reconnect.
You're busy, your friends are busy, we're all busy. Yet the truth is, the velocity of life is only going to gain more traction as time progresses. So unless you and your friends force each other to carve out time to reconnect, your bond will inevitably weaken.
My advice? Instead of focusing on what you all don't have time for — such as a spontaneous day trip or weekend getaway — utilize the random slots of free time in your calendar to catch up.
Meet up for a walk during your lunch hour. Grab coffee together before heading into the office. Have a girls' night in and binge-watch one of your favorite shows. And if you happen to be miles apart like I am with the majority of my friends, call each other during your commute. Just like any other relationship, friendships need to be nurtured in order to grow (and last!) so by making a conscious effort to stay connected, it'll be these new memories that stay on top of the mind.
3. Be mindful, practice consideration, and express appreciation.
Although maintaining friendships in various life stages is by no means a walk in the park, I've learned it's a whole lot easier when you remember to be mindful and considerate toward one another. Even if your friends are going through something you might not necessarily understand or can relate to, your relationship will continue to stand strong and withstand the tests of time if you remain supportive. And in turn, don't forget to express your appreciation for their fellow understanding and encouragement. Voicing this level of gratitude will make them feel more loved and needed, which will ultimately bring you closer together to form an even stronger bond.
4. Remember what brought you together in the first place.
Even though you might be going through various life stages, there's a reason you and your friends became connected in the first place. These are the people who build you up, the ones who warm your soul, and the faces who make even the most mundane day brighter. Regardless of what you're going through as an individual, this is the group you can count on. And sometimes, there's no better way to strengthen these ties than by reminiscing on all the unforgettable times shared together.