We have all experienced impasses as we move through the various stages of life. When we try to survive these hiccups in our development, some relationships survive and other relationships get left behind. Changes in life like graduation, marriage, starting a family, and loss are normal events; but the timing of these events and how well equipped we are to address these events can impact the duration or quality of our personal relationships. This article is part one of a seven part series which explores how relationships transform at different ages. Each series explores a different decade of age. This week we will be discussing the twenties.
By the time I reached my late twenties, I had a stumbled through a variety of experiences and even discovered a few jewels of wisdom along the way. I had made mistakes, some lessons had been learned, and I was beginning to develop a higher level of self-awareness. I completed my undergraduate and graduate education, I became a mother, and I am now beginning to focus heavily on my professional goals. I even rid myself of a few bad habits and adopted a more helpful way of living.
But one thing is for sure; at some point in your late twenties, you look up and notice that you’re not so familiar with the landscape you’ve started molding for yourself. I started appreciating timeliness and home-cooked meals, bookstores became cool, and Thirsty Thursdays were much less appealing in comparison to brunches on an early Saturday morning. I was not like the early twenties version of myself. I became much more focused on enhancing the positive skills and characteristics I possessed. By 25 I started “cutting the fat out” by omitting all of the things in my life which were seemingly unhelpful.
After intensely butchering up my life in this manner, I recently stepped back to look at my work. That thick cut of meat that once represented my life was carved down to nothing but a lean, single strip. At 29, I was proud—“Less ‘fat’ and more health”, I thought. But upon further inspection I realized that I cut out a lot of substance and flavor along with that fat. Much of the habits I rid myself of were tied to a huge amount of relationships I had built in my early twenties. The clubbing with my girlfriends, beers and football with the guys, house parties, and social sipping with coworkers at happy hours. Suddenly, I was no longer in the loop with my friends. No more group chats or random phone calls during the day or weekend plans with the crew. I went from having a hot line to turning my phone off and on to make sure it still worked!
What gives? Do the twenties have to transition from the life of the party to the lifeless?
Well to my readers who are currently in their twenties grappling with similar social thoughts, I think now is the time that we sit and discuss the birds and the bees of the twenties. Or as I like to call them, the FOMO (fear of missing out) and the adult.
FOMO is defined as anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere. A large amount of people in their late twenties suffer from FOMO as they begin to take on more responsibility and accountability for their futures. But fear not—FOMO can be cured without compromising your goals in life.
1. Create a ritual or join a group: So maybe you lost out on a friend or two on this journey of developing into “full-time” adults. The things you liked to do with your friends no longer hold the same meaning. Hey—it happens! You just need to reassess the priorities you and your friends have. First, figure out which activities hold value in your life now (Is it wine tasting, yoga, theater, Netflix night, etc.?). Write these activities down on a sheet of a paper. Now, next to each activity, list the names of friends who also share a similar level of interest in that activity. For every activity that has a friends name next to it, reach out to that friend and try to create a ritual together. For example, if you wrote down “Flea Market Shopping” as your new interest and your friend Jasmine is starting a women’s boutique, maybe you and Jasmine can agree that every first Saturday of the month you will get together and go to the flea market. Creating a ritual gives you all something consistent to look forward to and it reduces the amounts of missed connections between friends due to life changes. If you have activities written on your list that you enjoy but none of your friends have a similar interest in, just check for established groups or clubs in your area that cater to those activities and make a new connection while you are there!
2. Initiate: What if you actually have been excluded from the group chat or the happy hour? Don’t be afraid to start things up for yourself and invite others along. You might have been MIA but you are only one conversation away from being reconnected. Tell your friends that you’d like them all to join you for a yoga session or a brunch. Or kick off that much needed group chat with friends to get you all through that tiring Monday. They’ll be glad that you are taking the time to reinsert yourself and you’ll be equally as glad that you are maintaining that bond. Also, when you initiate the conversation or the activities, you can control certain elements. For instance, if going to the club at 1 AM is no longer something you want to do, don’t wait to be invited to these activities only to decline them. Create the moments you’d like to make with your friends, both old and new.
3. Be Flexible: Lastly, be flexible. You still may have friends who want to continue having that “college-life” fun and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Be clear with yourself on your limits but don’t eliminate yourself from your friends completely. Maybe stop by for an hour or two to laugh and sip with your buddies and then call it an early night. They’ll love you regardless because of the effort you made to compromise and meet them in the middle.
On the next part of this series, we will explore the thirties and how events and developments impact relationships in that phase of life. If you want to continue this conversation, comment below or send me an email in the comments section or at firstname.lastname@example.org.