I was recently able to spend some time with a friend last Sunday, who I do not get to see as often as I would like. For both of us, life in our mid 30’s has become a whirlwind that we just try to manage the best we can without it pulling us below the surface. After we got some delicious Pho and saw a movie, we ended up talking about this conundrum of friendship that women in our season of life are experiencing in countless communities, but that no one necessarily prepared us for.
Life is a beautiful, chaotic mess and the amount of time we have in each day remains the same. Whether you’re 10 years old, in high school, in your 20’s, or in full-blown adulthood; you still only have 24 hours in each day. Even at work where I see the same people for 8-9 hours a day, I still have work to do and can only take the time to invest in a very limited amount of those relationships. Life is just plain busy. I used to naively think that I wouldn’t ever feel this way, since I do not have a Type-A personality and I refuse to let my kid ever play seven sports at a time. Oh how wrong I was. As nice as it would be to even blame this on graduate school (although it does take up A LOT of my time), the fact remains that even after I am done with grad school, I will still have a lot of things vying to fill my time.
Once you reach a certain season of life, you have choices to make with how you spend your time. Your choices become your priority and you can’t prioritize everything. If you want to be a good friend to a lot of people, you can’t climb the ladder as quickly or ambitiously at work or spend as much time with your family. If you want to be the top executive at your company or the world’s best parent, time with your friends will inevitably take a hit. The American dream that says you can have it all is misleading. You can have the things you choose to prioritize, but you certainly cannot have it all – at least not with any depth or quality.
I am so thankful to have friends in the same season of life I am in who understand that I may take 5 days to respond to their text message (or not at all, but they know I read it and am thinking about them! I appreciate those who I may only see once every 3 months, even though we do not live that far from each other and the time we spend together is still precious and meaningful. I appreciate it when I am not held to silly, shallow obligations like Facebook birthday timeline shout outs or the pressure to increase the quantity of communications or time spent together in order to prove that I cherish a relationship.
These things just aren’t always possible. Sometimes I’ll have a really crappy day at work and when I come home all I want to do is sit in front of my TV with a drink and not talk to anyone. Sometimes, I have had to be away doing homework for days on end, so all I want to do is spend the day with Travis and give Chad a break. Sometimes, it’s been weeks since Chad and I have had a conversations that did not revolve around schedules, to-do’s, or logistics and we just need to have fun together. There is always something to clean, some house project left unfinished, some book I have been meaning to pick up and escape into, or some show I have been meaning to catch up on.
I have certainly had to adapt. My personality has always been bent towards being a “best friend” kind of friend verses a “many friends” kind of friend. Do I miss the days when I could see and talk to my friends as much as I wanted with no sacrifices made anywhere else (aka anytime before I was 25)? Of course! Without friendship and deep connection, I am a wreck. Quality time is and always will be incredibly important to me!
We just have to choose those times now. Schedule them. Prioritize. De-clutter. It’s both taxing and freeing, saddening and life-bringing at the same time. That quick message to a friend becomes a source of joy. That lunch we were able to fit in, becomes an anchor. That conversation in a parking lot late on a Sunday night becomes a breath of fresh air. That trip to see a long-distance friend becomes revitalizing.
This is just life and it is normal and it is fine.