It’s a fact universally acknowledged that as you grow up you grow out of certain things (thank god) old clothes, old habits, old obsessions. The ‘old’ is gradually swapped, replaced and updated with the ‘new’ until eventually you are the grown-up you’re meant to be. The transition is easy and seamless. It’s completely normal to outgrow habits, hobbies and life phases and as we do so no one appears to blink an eye.
However the touchy topic of outgrowing your friends is another matter entirely. Surely you’re supposed to do all of your ‘outgrowing’ as a child right?
I wouldn’t be so sure…
If you reside somewhere within the 20-something age bracket it usually means that you’re no longer at school/uni and that perhaps you live away from home. And as sometimes happens you look back on the friendships you made in these places and realize that they just don’t fit like they used to. Friends that were once BFFs have made different decisions and taken different paths and all of a sudden you don’t recognize each other anymore. Trouble is nobody knows quite what to do with this outgrowing and advice on how to handle it is thin on the ground.
If you don’t fit in with your work mates or you suffer a relationship break up you’ll have tips on how to deal with these situations coming out your ears, but when it comes to friendships and the quiet gradual parting of ways there isn’t a scrap of help to be had.
As an adult I’ve experienced the outgrowing of some old friendships, there were no blazing rows or bitter tears just a gentle fizzling out of what we once were. Just like you outgrew those posters on your wall, those blonde ‘highlights’ in your hair and your obsession for only ever wearing blue clothes (oh wait, that was just me?!) feeling the need to move on from certain friendships is completely normal. Yes thats right, normal. Since no one else was saying it I thought I would. So let out that sigh of relief and stop feeling guilty for letting some friendships fall by the wayside. Some mates are meant to go the distance and others are just meant to take you part of the way.
However if like me you’re not as confident as you could be and your personality tends towards that of an introvert shedding friends can be an unsettling business, especially if your friendship circle was never that big in the first place.
Which leads me onto the next friendship minefield that is never really covered, how do you make new friends as adults? Why is it so difficult to do as grown-ups?
Acquiring new friendlings as a kid was a piece of cake. They’d be sat next to you in class or would be stood next to you on the playground making daisy chains and three things would ensure you were instant and lifelong partners in crime:
1. You liked the same colour.
2. You liked the same food. And
3. You liked the same Spice Girl…
No other requirements necessary. Ahh the simple days.
But meeting new people and cultivating new friendships as adults is a whole lot of awks. How have we got so bad at it in the intervening years?
Maybe it has something to do with our needs changing. It’s no longer enough to have matching pencil cases and the same likes and dislikes. As grown-up’s factors such as loyalty, trust and reliability come along to make the process that much more complicated. The situation of meeting a potential friend and realizing you’ll have to start from scratch can look like climbing a mountain.
It’s far easier, safer and less effort to stick to the friends you’ve got. No wonder meeting potential new mates is difficult, you’re closed off and guarded, they’re closed off and guarded and instead of making a start at getting to know each other your polite smiling and small talking until you can get the hell out of there.
Lately when it’s come to meeting new people, friends of my sisters and friends of friends, I’ve been a little more open, a little less guarded and a lot more willing to chat and have found myself tentatively making new (potential) friends.
It’s still awkward as all hell but once you’ve opened up and got the ball rolling it’s actually a nice feeling. Give it a try.
So c’mon! If your favourite colour is pink, if your favourite food is dessert and if your favourite Spice was Baby lets be friends!