Post-grad is the first stage of life without a manual or script. You are supposed to go down this set path from preschool to college and expect to make friends along the way. School sets up friendships easily, and you are ill-prepared for how hard it is to make friends once you are out of that bubble. Or how hard it is to maintain friendships when you aren’t living in the same place or seeing each other every day.
So you spend a lot of time with yourself. You keep yourself “busy.” You forget that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. You assume that your friends are too “busy” for you. You go months without talking. All of this time apart from them makes you hyper-analyze your friendships. You speculate the hypothetical reasons why you and your friend aren’t talking.
Maybe your friend didn’t want you as a roommate. Maybe they didn’t want you as a co-worker. Maybe they owe you money. Maybe they forgot to return your copy of your favorite book to you after all of these years. Maybe they didn’t identify with a period of grief in your life and didn’t know how to help you. Maybe they forgot about your birthday. Maybe your attempt to repair your friendship unintentionally screwed up others in the process. Maybe you said something to them that you didn’t mean. Maybe you have to be the friend who initiates reaching out. Maybe you’re a friend who is hard to get a hold of. Maybe you lost touch because you don’t have time to think about another twenty-something when you are trying to navigate how to be your own twenty-something. Or maybe you have the ability to pick up your friendship where you both left off and you are just being paranoid.
Your mid-twenties are still your formative years. You are figuring out what it means to be an adult. You are experiencing quarter-life crises. You are learning the harsh realities of society. The beautiful thing about friendships, especially the ones with friends close in age, is that your friend is walking through this same stage of life. You can marvel at your new thoughts and education outside of a classroom together. You can commiserate over paying student loans and working at jobs you don’t yet love. You can recognize how people grow at their own paces. You can realize that your lives might be turning out to be unlike you imagined, and the reality is simultaneously tragic and acceptable.
If your mid-twenties feel like a lonely time for you, they don’t have to be. Hold onto your friendships. Keep your friends close. Forgive them for the past. Forgive them for losing touch. Know that you don’t always have to tell them that you forgive them. Just do. Your mid-twenties are a difficult time, and no one deserves to go through that time in their lives alone.