Here’s what no one ever tells you: the friends you make in your late teens/ early 20s don’t always stay.
When you first move away from home and make friends, it’s easy to feel like that’s it. Like these are the people who are going to be your bridesmaids; these will be your roommates; these will be your Joey and Chandler and Phoebe, or characters from whatever TV show you most idealize.
You’re young; everything feels new. You feel like a real adult. You feel like yourself, for the first time.
But even your very best friends are going to move on with their lives.
Your 20s are a confusing time: everyone’s still figuring out their job, their interests, their significant other. People are going to go their separate ways; and if you’re like me, you’ll be sitting there wondering where everyone has gone, feeling like a forgotten character in a story.
This is especially true if you haven’t yet decided what you want to do, or if you’re working towards an untraditional career field. You’ll probably have a pregnant friend; a married friend; a friend at a grad school; a friend traveling abroad; a friend working in the field they know they want to be in; a friend doing some sort of volunteer program or advocacy work. Did I get them all?
At first, some of your friends still seem to be unsure where their life is going. But all of a sudden, you might find yourself sitting alone in your cheap apartment building, half a bottle of wine in, eating ramen at 2am even though you have to work the brunch shift tomorrow, snapchatting your friends as if it’s #relatablecontent.
But all of a sudden it’s not anymore.
For someone like me, who has social anxiety, it’s incredibly hard to make new friends. Especially if you’re far from your hometown and high school friends, too. And even those new friends may seem to move on – one moment you’re dancing on the couch to a Halsey remix, and the next they’re practically engaged to your neighbor and starting a clothing line.
So I’m here to say that I get it. It’s still #relatablecontent to me. And just because your friends have moved on doesn’t mean that you won’t, too.
I think we all feel like our lives are supposed to exist on this timeline, which inevitably falls to shit. And seeing our friends mark off checkpoints on our timeline can kind of be a slap in the face that you’re not even close. You’re happy for them, of course. But you can’t help but feel as if they’re judging you.
But here’s the truth: it’s really just you judging yourself.
Your friends don’t have the same timeline as you. And they might be feeling the same way – even if they’re not tipsy, scream-singing Taylor Swift at 8pm alone in their pajamas, they might feel the same way. You are not on the same path – and your path has absolutely nothing to do with them. Just like theirs has nothing to do with you – that’s why they’re in a different city, living their lives the way they want. Maybe it’s time you do the same – and if following your passion means 2am ramen, so be it. I promise you, no one who loves you is judging you. Except maybe your parents, but that’s their job.
Here’s my experience: whatever you’re going through right now always feels like it’s going to last forever. But it never does. Life happens, and all of a sudden you realize you’re in a completely different place than you once were. Think about it: you’re not the same person you were in high school, are you? And your friends aren’t in the same place they were in their early 20s. One day, that’ll be you – and it might not look like it did with them. But it’ll look different.
And here’s the glorious, glorious part about still figuring it all out:
You’re tipsy and dancing to Taylor Swift at 2am, probably getting a noise complaint from your psycho neighbor.
You are having fun.
And someday, you are going to look back on these days with such fondness. Just like you do at the days when you and your college besties were together 24/7, making messes together with no clue how your lives would turn out.
So my advice?
Stop being so hard on yourself. Just enjoy being a mess. So what if it takes you a little longer?
You’re still got plenty of time to be young.