Movies, media, and society depict the idea that our twenties are meant to be the most ‘fun and sociable’ years of our lives. This places pressure on making and maintaining friendships, which evidently becomes more challenging in your twenties when everyone starts to go down different paths. I’m 22. I have one friend living with their partner, one off travelling, one’s a prison warden, many live all over the globe, and I’m here at university.
How do we navigate our friendships with these people as we grow, change, and move away from the comforts of our childhood?
Make Time! Make the Effort!
We are all incredibly busy people, often consumed with our own day-to-day qualms and challenges. However, it is so important for yourself and others to prioritise time in your day or week to check in and spend time with your friends. Now that you’re in your twenties this may involve a bit of travelling, but it also presents exciting new things to try and places to visit. That new pottery class you’ve seen advertised on your commute to work? Invite your friend to it one evening. If one of you studies in Manchester and the other Durham, meet in York for lunch. If you are both enthusiastic about putting equal effort into a friendship, whether is weekly, monthly, or annually, you will find time to spend with each other. Do an activity that suits you all in that time, whether you are in need of fresh excitement or someone to run some errands with, any time is important.
Enjoy the benefits of social media
As consuming as social media can sometimes be, it can also be a great tool to stay connected to those friends who are no longer the knock of a door away. FaceTime allows you to see their beautiful faces and can be initiated from anywhere in the world. I find that booking in a FaceTime date can help overcome any time zone differences and holds you accountable to make time for that friend. I also love a spontaneous call when you’re getting ready for a night out, making your lunch or walking home from the gym. With regards to other social media, be generous with those reactions and comments! If you see a friend doing something cool, show your excitement for them and send a quick little message to hear about what they are doing.
Celebrate the big and little things
Birthdays are a given (send that damn card and put the birthdays in your calendar!). However, I think the key to navigating friendships in your twenties is celebrating all the other things in life. Cards and letters are a more intimate way to articulate how proud you are of a friend or how much you care about them. If you want to go the extra mile you could even host a card crafting session with your friends and have a stash prepared for any celebration that comes your way.
Take advantage of your living situation
Your twenties are the prime time to live with your friends, in and out of university. Be grateful for the endless comfort of coming home to a house full of your nearest and dearest. Ensure that you put aside the time to properly spend time together away from the mad rush of daily life, maybe a weekly house dinner or a game of ultimate frisbee in the park. Living with friends provides you with the opportunity to check in with them and provide support when times may get stressful. Remember to treasure the random weekday evenings cuddled up all in one bed, each person keeling over with laughter from a silly little joke. My memories of just doing absolutely nothing with my girls are probably my fondest at university.
Be open to making new friends
It’s easy to become complacent with the friendships you have in your twenties, I’m sure the friends you currently have are absolutely brilliant. However, there are many cracking individuals wandering around out there. A year away taught me the true importance of openness and unwavering kindness and what it truly means to give every individual ‘the time of day’. You will surprise yourself with all the different characters you meet and build friendships with, and it is from these people that you are able to learn new things about the world and yourself. Have the confidence to place yourself in new social situations and groups and remember that people are often as keen to meet new people as you may be. Follow up from these new interactions with a cheeky text to start the foundations of a friendship.
Tell them you love them
Friends have and always will be the foundations and crux of your life. For me, my friends are beaming rays of sunshine. They are who I cry to at any hour of the day. Who I share my successes and rejections with. Who I tell every mundane detail of my life. Who know my family, my humour, my insecurities and my aspirations. They are the people who I would run to the end of the earth for just to see them smile. Your twenties can be a stressful, confusing and overwhelming time with all aspects of life constantly changing. So, in these times, cherish and nurture your friendships, and always tell them how much you love them.
To my radiant and remarkable friends: I love you.
Illustration: Hayleigh McLean