Friendships change the older you get, and if you ask me, the whole thing is quite an interesting concept. See as I stated in a previous article, I grew up surrounded by great friends, that I saw everyday and with whom I experienced all "crucial" parts of childhood and adolescence. And there's something really interesting about experiences like that, because even until this day we somehow keep growing up together.
Nowadays I see them discover their passion, make new friends and encounter the same difficulties of being an adult and living abroad as myself. We might be miles away, but every time we get a chance, we visit each other and it genuinely feels like nothing's changed.
Now the changes I see on them I suppose they see on me too. At some point we all started to build our own lives outside of this circle we had as our safe haven, this place that for twelve years represented familiarity for us. We all began to choose what could, from that point on, be our new "everyday", and in many ways those choices really matter.
You see something as simple as calling someone a friend can be tricky. As I said before, the older you get the more the dynamic changes, or if anything the more the approach you take differs from prior encounters. However there are times where immediate connections are made. Where although you might not know the person or where they are headed you somehow feel you can connect in some way. And then it's your time to choose. Choose to continue and embrace whatever might come from that first hello.
Now I guess this fascinates me because in a way that's not how I saw relationships before. Don't get me wrong, I clearly chose whom I wanted to talk to or be with in school, and it wasn't at all a forced choice. The thing is it just felt so natural and was stated in such an effortless way, given that as a group we shared the same space for so long, that there was no need to think about how the friendship developed.
However nowadays, there’s a sort of pressure that comes with creating bonds, and I definitely felt it when moving abroad. Most people say that it is at university that you make life long friends, and if you think about it, the more you listen to something like that the more you pressure yourself to make every connection last. You want to be able to say that your university years meant something, and not just because you got a degree. But then suddenly you’re there, you’re in this new phase, and at times everything seems to happen so fast that you’re not sure of what’s going on, and this his is where the pressure can affect you.
We’re all different and we all know this. You are not going to like every person out there and they are all not going to like you back. So if for some reason you seem to take longer to make connections, you’re going to start wondering why. Is it you or is it them? And unfortunately if you let such feeling grow, you’ll get stuck.
We live in a world where sometimes looks seem to matter more than other things, where belonging to a group is still something some feel the need to achieve. Following this premise, what seems to matter ends up being the quantity of friends or people around us one can have, and not so much whether those relationships really bring something positive to you or not. When in reality, that is where our attention should go. When you start making “life long” decisions like the career path you’ll take, or the potential country you’ll want to settle into, you’ll want people who will stick next to you no matter what. People that, whether you decide to move 10000 miles away on a sporadic epiphany, will still come up to you and say “I’ll always visit”. People who teach you about their culture and allow you to be a part of it just as much as you allow them to be a part of yours. People for whom you’d want to move cross country to see just for a few hours, or with whom you wouldn’t care to try new things with because that’s how much you trust them.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am aware that trust is one of the hardest barriers to climb. And there are times where even after having gone past it, seconds of insecurity still overcome you. But if you are able to communicate such feelings, not only within yourself but with those around you as well, believe me you can find ways to keep climbing back, because at the end of the day it is not about climbing by yourself.
Now see, when you’re a kid, your ambitions, your goals are limited only by your imagination, not by money or rent or other people’s expectations. Then as reality kicks in, those dreams that once seemed so close and achievable start to get further away from you. And depending on different possible scenarios in life, dreams can be found on the side-line more often that one would like. However, they shouldn’t die with your realizations, and I believe going back to that child like state is a great first step for that. Because in that state, even something as simple as climbing that trust barrier was nothing. If you saw a nice kid in the park and you wanted to play, you would go and ask them to play. You took chances, and even if sometimes yes, you could get hurt, you kept coming back to the park to try again. And things can work out the same the older you get.
When you first meet someone, the first jump is hard, but then it can get a bit easier because it becomes teamwork. You create a bond, which is built and strengthen with time. Now sometimes that can take years, others months, and in rare and special cases, what could seem like weeks or days. But once you find those people who can help you embrace your dreams without loosing touch from what’s in front of you, then I believe you’re in a good path for the future. Because it is then that you start to see the changes.
Sometimes it seems hard to believe that you might have an effect on people, or that the effect someone could have on you could really bring something special. With stress and deadlines we get lost, in life and with ourselves, and we forget. A close friend once told me that it seems almost ridiculous how easy it is to forget that as long as the sun rises and sets, time flies by and everyday could be better than the previous. However, one thing I don’t think they realized by saying it was how easy it was for them to remind me of that. How with just a few words, a whole new perspective came back. And this is what I mean when I say that we don’t always realize how important our relationships can be, and how much a small gesture could go a long way.
I guess what I want to get at with all of this is that, we shouldn’t be afraid of what’s in front of us. But most importantly, that we shouldn’t let pressure dictate how we want to build our connections, because deep down, I like to believe that we know when something feels right.