We’ve all had great friends as kids. But there is something special about the girlfriends you have as a young adult. Maybe because becoming a full-fledged adult is easier when we’re not going it alone.
Here are some thoughts I’ve recently had about my two best friends. We are 25, 27, & 27. We’ve been friends through most of our college lives and I’m very thankful for the experiences I’ve had with them.
Friends in your 20s are the best because:
You have someone to discuss female stuff with. No, this is not as obvious as it sounds. Ok so your mom had the talk with you, eons ago right? But you’re not likely to go to her later on, right? For that, have a great girlfriend.
Mature enough to value time. You might not see them for weeks or months (one of my besties is 200 miles away and I see her about 5 times a year) but an adult friend works to communicate is some way on a regular basis. It’s not the “I’ll only call when I want to hang out” we all knew as teens and kids. It’s texts, facebook messages, cards, letters, Skype, visits, phone calls – just to check in and say “I care about you.”
Trust. Remember that secret your told your 13 year old friend that was all over school within a week? Now look at your adult best friend an be confident that your secret will follow them to the grave. As long as it isn’t something that will harm your friend or someone else, you as an adult friend should be relied on to be spoken to in FULL confidence. And if you do feel that you have to spill the beans, ask them first to clarify, “Do you mean that _____, or I am I hearing this wrong?”
They might encourage some “bad” habits, but never any harmful habits. We stayed up too late, took in way too much sugar, had tv marathons, and walked to the fast food place in really cold weather. But we’d be more than willing to verbally or physically prevent each other from doing something harmful.
Don’t let money become an issue. Borrow money from a friend in high school? You paid them back asap. Let a friend buy you lunch? Nope, not me. Why? “Look, you never even paid me back for _____. Why should I do this? How do I know you’re good for it?” Money can easily come between anyone. It can cause tension. I have the lowest-paying job of my friends, but if I need someone to help me buy lunch or a theatre ticket, I know I can trust them when they say, “I got this, don’t worry”. We’re grown-ups. We can speak honestly about what we can or cannot do financially. That said, we should be able to help each other out and leave no uncertain or unreasonable terms.
Give the truth, but with tact and love. I have a friend who is great at giving me honest, wise advice. But she does it tactfully and without attacking my identity or personality. That’s how a mature person operates. You can be honest with a friend without coming off as a dick. If they’re a good friend in return, they will realize that you are being critical of the situation, not of them as a person.
They accept ALL of me. All the insecurities, all the fears, all the quirks, all the hobbies I have that they don’t even like, all my dreams. If you’re sick, a mature friend will support you all the way through it, even if they don’t really understand your situation. When you’re hurting, they will comfort you and assure you of their support. There should be no detail of your life that they will show malice toward. You can have different viewpoints, without getting into arguments.
Encourage ALL communication. Also known as no boundaries. There are no wrong questions. This ties back into trust. What my friends and I agree to is, you can ask any question of me, but I can choose not to answer or I can answer as much or little as I choose. But basically at this point in life, you should be able to approach your friends with any subject without fear of judgment.
They help me find my true self. My friends have been great at encouraging me to try new things, new looks, and go on adventures. This is super important because I think that is what a lot of people do in their 20s – they are trying to find their true self and let their personality shine. The world today can be horribly oppressive on this subject and we need reliable friends to encourage us in our ventures.
They tell me I am enough. I am enough. I don’t have to change but I can change for myself. I don’t need to impress the world. I don’t need to make everyone happy. I don’t need to lose weight, but I can if it’s something I want to do. I don’t have to make a certain amount of money to be successful. I don’t have to talk more. I don’t have to dress differently. I don’t need to eat more salads or stop drinking pop. I just need to be happy and healthy. I am enough.
They know we don’t have to always act our age. My friends encourage me to be silly. We jump in puddles. We watch Disney. We skip. We sing silly songs in public. We have fun no matter who is watching. Basically we do all the things I never thought as a kid, grown-ups would do. We break the status-quo.
Gently usher me into adult situations. You might be ok with a big crowd taking you out and getting you drunk when you turn 21. If not, there’s a best friend who will have you over and give you half a glass of light wine. You might love to go out to clubs and dance with blaring music and strangers. If not, there’s a best friend who will introduce you to her friends at dance class. A best friend will know what makes you comfortable or uncomfortable and work to make you feel that you’re in a safe environment when you’re trying something new.
Above all, they set the standard high. The number one thing my friends have taught me is that I should expect respectful, mature, protective friends in my life. Be it more girlfriends, or a man who wants to date me. We often hear people say “Your standards are too high. You’ll never find a perfect person.” But standards are a person’s natural instincts for staying safe. And we don’t want perfection. We want trust, loyalty, and true love. Soul mates are not just our romantic partners. I think, first and foremost, they are our best friends.