I was thinking about friendships recently, again, forever. I was thinking about how they change over time and what it means to be a friend in your thirties. I struggle with it because I’ve always been an all-in type of person.
Admittedly, I can be intense (as both friends and enemies have pointed out). I expect a lot out of my friends and the ones I’ve made, though few, are women I can connect to on many levels. I’m having dinner with one of my oldest friends tomorrow, we have a 20+ year history!, and as unfair as it is, this is the standard I’ve set for every potential friend I’ve ever met. Finish my sentence or I finish you! Hahaha I’m fine, really.
Recently though, I’ve been considering the value of the “non-best friend,” the person in your life who you do a single hobby with or who you share a cubicle wall with. My life, sadly, is no longer one big summer camp-sleepover-school year-marble notebook tell-all, and compartmentalization is the new name of the game. Maybe you have a book club friend or a writing friend or a boxing friend or a colleague who’s in the trenches with you. This is a revelation to me.
When I moved to New York and started my new job, I was bummed to find out how little people hung out outside of work. So I did what I do, and waged a tiny campaign to get people to be friends after 5 pm. Is this sad? Maybe. But these are my coping mechanisms. When it became clear that people were not into it (due to long commutes home, families to tend to, everyone secretly despises me?? JK I swear to god if I hear people talking, and also etc.), I gave up.
Honestly, I wanted to write these people off as being rude and close-minded. I NEED PEOPLE TO LIKE ME. But then over time, I started rethinking our relationship. I realized how much I appreciate their friendship, even and especially during work hours.
In my twenties I was trying to find work, in my thirties I am working. I can’t get enough of conversations about how to have a career in corporate America as a woman, including but not limited to: How to get your ideas heard, negotiating raises, and generally navigating office politics. I know very little about these things and I am constantly seeking the guidance of the smart women I work with. We commiserate and cheer each other on and sometimes, gloriously, catch each other’s side eyes from across the conference table.
In little and big ways, we support each other and it makes work that much more tolerable. Hard as it may be for me, a person with no boundaries, I have come to accept the limits of the 9-5 friendship and I value it for what it is.
I still have a few more openings for full-time friends for anyone that lives in New York (and is willing to travel and must be able to carry up to 13lbs which is my cat, Reggie, who you may get to meet if we become good friends.)