Nearly four months ago I added “Kindred Spirits: Friendships are Hard” as a blog post to my editorial calendar. I’ve somehow managed to avoid it since then. When I started writing this essay today, I opened up my old “draft” of this post and found a bunch of jumbled rambling and the sentence, “Look, it was easier for me to write an upcoming post about my mom having cancer than it was for me to write about friendship.” That sentence is clearly true, seeing how I wrote on my mother in July and now here I am, just actually beginning to write this one.
Man, I just think friendships are the hardest.
When you’re a little younger, friendships are hard in a different way. They may be fraught with drama that is so remarkably pointless but in the end, neither of you will bail on each other because either: a) your mothers won’t let you (thanks mom and Mrs. Daniels for making Becca and I go to that John Mayer concert even when we faux-hated each other!) or, b) your lives are too intertwined for it to be possible. Despite all the fighting over boys or about who didn’t invite whom to Sonic, you are best friends who will never leave each other, even when you live six states apart.
But when you’re really, really on your own and making your own priorities, what is there to keep you and your new friends together? No one wants to admit that it’s harder to maintain your friendships as you get older and gain significant others, but to deny that is to be willfully ignorant. Even if you become friends out of shared interests (and not just shared circumstances), your life pursuits are almost certainly not going to be in exactly the same place at the same time.
How can you be expected to grow at the same rate, in the same direction as a friend you made at 19? It’s like when sad people say they don’t believe in marriage because everyone changes and you can’t commit to forever when you don’t know what it looks like blah, blah, blah. Yes, of course people change. But a committed couple is exactly that — committed to growing together, to compromising together, to working together. Two women who bonded over a shared hatred of Freshman Orientation 10 years ago? Not so much.
So suddenly, you find yourself drifting from the friends you thought would be your Sex and the City-like girl gang. You both try to make time for each other, but you’ll find yourself failing over and over. And then all of a sudden, you’re so far apart it feels unfixable.
Now what do you do? Make new friends? Yeah, okay, lol. How do you suggest going about that?
Okay, okay, I know. Lots of ways! Go to book club! Try hard not to be shy! Say yes when work people ask you to lunch! Trade numbers with the nice couple you talked with on that horseback riding adventure! Make small talk with the girl who volunteers at your yoga studio even when you feel grumpy! Go to parties where you know one person and don’t hide alone in the kitchen!
But when Friday night rolls around and you are so tired all you want to do is watch Kardashian reruns, are you really going to rally for a drink with someone two boroughs away? No, you are not. Or even worse, you do rally. You push yourself to sacrifice cuddling with your puppy while safe and warm, to venture out into the cold for dinner with this new friend. But all of a sudden, during your second drink, you realize you actually feel more alone when you’re with this “friend” than when you’re actually alone.
Mindy Kaling was so right when she said, “It’s much harder to find a friend you can talk to than a man you want to sleep with.” And that just breaks my heart.
But still, if you’re really, really lucky, along the way, you will find your soul mates. Anne Shirley and I like to call them kindred spirits.
I was lucky enough to find some at every stage of life. And even when it’s hard to see each other that often, or really even to talk that often, I feel at home the second I see them. Kindred spirits make all the hard friendship moments worth it.
They let you be your worst self with them, but make you want to be your best self. They notice the same bizarre Instagram from that crazy girl as you do. They drive in and fly in to be at your graduation party. They even bring gifts! They calm you down when you’re mad your boyfriend hasn’t proposed yet. They don’t spoil it that he’s doing it next weekend. They send you snapchats of them singing Single Ladies when you get engaged and don’t make fun of you when you send one back doing the dance. They fly in to watch you try on wedding dresses. They subtweet for you when it would be too obvious for you to do the same. They retweet almost every blog you write because they want so much to help your dreams come true. They obsess over what you should say when you have that tough conversation at work. They send you flowers the day your mom has surgery. They tell you whether Deacon on Nashville is alive on not so you can watch without being worried. They love you even when they don’t agree with you.
I love you so much, my sweet kindred spirits. Thank you for loving me so.