Working On My Friendships (or Things Are Better In My 30’s)

I’ve had a couple of friends turn 30 in the past few months. For so many people, 30 is a milestone and makes them freak out a bit. Maybe they aren’t where they want to be in life or they wonder what happened. I did have some ideas in my head of where I wanted to be when I turned 30, but my life was so different from what I was expecting that it didn’t really bug me that I wasn’t there. For me, turning 30 was pretty fun. I wasn’t too worried about the age and I’m still not that worried. I think age really is just a number and it doesn’t have to mean more than that. And whenever a friend is turning 30 and they are worried, I always tell them that so far my 30’s have been so much better than my 20’s.

My 30’s could be better for so many reasons. When I turned 20 I was still in college and not totally happy with things. I didn’t love college and I ended up graduating early so I could be done faster. I enjoyed learning, but I always felt like a bit of an outsider there. And even after college ended, I still had that outsider feeling. And part of this could be related to feeling uneasy with the friends that I had. They never made me feel like an outsider, but I always felt like I had to work harder at the friendship than they did and that they didn’t view me as close of a friend as I viewed them.

Those friendships ended very abruptly and it was a bit traumatic at the time, but reflecting back at it I know it was for the best. I was holding myself back with those friends and when I had to go out and find new friends I was just myself and didn’t worry too much about it. I don’t have a tough time making new friends, but it’s tough to make new friends who are more friends than acquaintances. And it took me time to learn that the new friends I was making easily weren’t necessarily long-term friends.

But lately, I’ve been able to strengthen a lot of my friendships. I think it was just due to random timing, but it’s nice to know that my friendships with people who I really care about are stronger now and I feel more confidence with having them as my friends. Even though I haven’t been hiding or diminishing myself with my friends, when my friendships are stronger I feel so much more free and that helps me discover who I am in a way. It’s so weird to need to have strong friendships to figure out myself, but I think because of some of the negative things that have been said to me in the past I need to see how others see me to see myself in a more truthful light.

I also think that there was a bit of just letting go and not caring when I turned 30. While I do still want to be liked by others, I also understand now that I can’t necessarily control what others think of me. If I am being my real self, they might love me or hate me. But I shouldn’t have to change myself to make others like me. For so long I really did just want everyone to like me. And when someone was mean to me I tried to see what I did wrong so I could fix it. That’s what happened when my best friend from college ended our friendship. I reflected back on what could have happened and tried to ask around to find out how I could make things better again. But in the end, I have no clue what I did and there was no way for me to fix it. It took me a while to get over it, but now I understand that whatever did happen was something that she felt and nothing I could have done would have changed it.

Today happens to be my half birthday. In 6 months I’ll be 35. That age doesn’t scare me (even though one person who recently turned 30 told me that she doesn’t feel old because you aren’t old until you are 35). What I’ve been able to accomplish and create in the first 4 1/2 years of my 30’s easily surpass what I did in the 10 years of my 20’s. And I’ve still got half of my 30’s to go, so I can’t even start to imagine what I’ll be able to get done by the time I’m 40.

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