As we settle comfortably in our mid-30’s, with our jobs and families pretty much solidified, more and more time goes between seeing our girlfriends. It’s just inevitable. As we change jobs, neighborhoods, and cities, most of us have to find new tribes of women to hang out with. But I would argue that it’s your old friends, the ones from your 20’s, who you need the most in your 30’s. Why?
- There is absolutely no jealousy, prevaricating, humble-bragging, or other bullshit. These are the women who could point out the dumpster you fell asleep behind or the bushes you puked in that one Sunday morning. They know your secrets, and they don’t care about them, so there’s no lens through which you have to present your life. My closest friends usually begin dinners by saying, “Ugh, I have to tell you why my life sucks right now.” That kind of honesty is refreshing in a world where people are trying to present their best lives on social media, taking six weird-looking selfies before finding one that they can post looking “authentic” and “spontaneous.” Hell, I’m guilty of that. But with these friends, you can tell them exactly how bad life is, knowing they won’t judge you, or how good it is, knowing that they will rejoice in your happiness.
- Your husband is not your best friend. If you are one of those people who says they “married their best friend,” that’s all well and good for you, but the sentiment makes me cringe. I tell my husband all the time that he is not my friend. He is my partner, soulmate, and the love of my life. But he’s not my friend. Your friends are the ones you can go to when you need to complain about some annoying man-thing your husband has done, like forgetting to bring Lamby to day care. Or who you can talk to about things like breastfeeding guilt or postpartum incontinence that a man just wouldn’t get. And more importantly, a husband is not a best friend because he sees you as his wife and the mother of his children. That’s a wonderful way to be seen, but it’s not the only way to be seen. My friends know the person I was when I wasn’t married. They are the ones who remember that free-wheelin’ good time girl of my past. And having that connection to your past is an important one because it shows you how much you’ve grown, but it also brings you back to your youth. We’re more than moms, careers, and wives. We were once full of daring and bad choices, and those things helped to shape the people we are now. It’s your friends who remember that girl, who won’t ever whitewash your past, and who will remind you that the awesomeness of your youth is still there, even if it’s beneath the surface.
- They stand the test of time and distance. There are lots of friendships we make out of convenience based on where we work or live, and that’s completely natural. But the friends from your 20’s, now that you’re in your 30’s, are truly your friends because it would be easier to just not talk to you anymore, but they won’t give up on you. Nothing about those old friendships is convenient. Everyone has moved across the country and started their own adventures. You no longer have the leisure to all be living in apartments together in the same city, with the means to get together on a Wednesday night to drink a jug of wine and eat a block of cheese. That’s why the time you are able to see or talk to each other becomes more meaningful. Whether it’s been one week or one year since you’ve spoken, you know you’ll pick up right where you left off.
- The problems of your 30’s are bigger than those of your 20’s. We’re long past the days of lamenting about a guy not calling back or raging because they changed Marshall Fields to Macy’s. The 30’s come with some pretty grownup problems, and we need help to be able to navigate this scary new chapter. My friend groups have dealt with divorce, infertility, and the death of parents. The stakes in life are so much higher now, and you need those honest and reliable friends to help you talk your way through it without reserve or judgement.
- Your friends push you into new adventures. It’s surprising how easy it is to get stodgy at the ripe age of 34, but you figure that at this point in life, you know what you do and don’t like, and you don’t always want to try new things. The best part about your true friends is that they will do everything they can to get you out of your comfort zone and are more than willing to join you for a little self-deprecation. These are the friends who convince you to go on the roller-coaster, get the naked scrub at the Korean spa, take the aerial yoga class, and start the blog. They’re the people that will go on the adventure with you, laughing and Instagramming all the way. They’re the people who keep you young and fun.
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