Do you remember breaking up with a bestie in school? The first time you had a fight that grew beyond a small quarrel or misunderstanding?
It was probably something silly, wasn’t it?
Growing up, I always dreaded that kind of abrupt ending … until I experienced something much more sobering.
Many times, the start of adult life will randomly fade out bonds that you thought were strong enough to stick together for life.
I say “randomly” because I have pals I connect with twice a year but I never find it difficult to catch up with them. It’s as if we Zoom everyday. The conversation flows effortlessly & one of us has to remind the other to go to sleep.
But a few of my friends have been moving inches away every day, and now they’re just out of range. Funny how they’re technically just a text away but I’m finding it too heavy to start a new chat or reply to their DMs.
Mind you there is no “negative” reason in particular for this. Maybe in the hasty run to make it into the next stage of our careers, we had to choose different paths & adopt different mindsets. Or maybe we just missed a couple birthday wishes so it’s too awkward to care again.
It’s like I’m holding a 120kg barbell without gloves and I can feel the grip slipping as it rolls & heats up under my palms.
Friendships that die slow deaths leave ugly bruises when you’re finally past them.
Because they ruin playlists, singers, songs, and entire genres too. All the special things they introduced you to.
Oh yes, it was the recent Friendship Day celebration that made me think of all this. While I did send & receive grateful wishes, it did hurt not being able to forward those messages to certain someones.
What took that thought forward was the cascade of more than two dozen confessions on Reddit by 25-30 year old boys talking about their loneliness.
The guys said that they’re finding it hard to socialize & find their tribes, have never went out on dates, and envy the colleagues or peers who are supposedly settled into tight circles. They marvel at how so many people are getting married all of a sudden!
So I thought someone should address these stories. I’ve lived them too.
Yes, your 20s is a time when you start earning so the ideal goal is to have people with whom you can plan treks, go out for brunches, and chase those road trips goals you’ve been dreaming of since college.
But see that’s the happy part everyone puts up on their Stories.
There will also come long dry periods after you graduate when the batch mates you promised to meet every year … become stuck in an exhausting cycle of grinding too hard & then being too burnt to lift a finger.
You will go through this too.
I haven’t yet used the word “busy” because one of the realities you’ll learn to accept is that people can be 100% free & available & still not want to dedicate that time to you because God knows that one Saturday evening is the only time they get to breathe & watch a good show at length (Sunday is reserved for errands & classes).
Again this completely fine & understandable, in my opinion. Because I do it, too.
Understand that people do care but most often they just don’t have the energy or the same priorities to reciprocate your efforts & love with the same intensity you would ideally expect from them. Also people express their love in different ways that might not fit your definition of what it means to care.
Bluntly put, it would hurt less if you tried learning to love & give without hoping for an ROI.
Your friends are just too caught up.
I don’t know how to explain it but now I sorta need everything in my Google Calendar LMAO or I’ll have no energy or interest in the activity.
I had this crazy back-to-back with a friend when we had to keep postponing our mandatory quarterly call for one or the reason. It became so irritating at one point that he sent me an official proposal on email asking for my appointment.
We both cracked up so hard talking about it & agreed how deeply embedded we are into our work lives. Not to mention the hundreds of other unbaked hustles we’re trying to set up on the side.
Adult friendships are complicated & nothing like the ones you may have been a part of in school. Because your timetables & priorities were the same back then. Now? Not do much.
Our generation is chasing difficult goals harder than any before ours. Everyone’s under pressure to start a blog, launch a Reel page, post LinkedIn Motivations, build their startup, create an NGO, and how could I forget – grow a YouTube channel too now. It’s the influencer life or no life.
The problem is that for those of us going at a slower pace or taking detours, this hustle culture can us feel left behind. It can make us question our worth.
As if we’re the only lost wanderer without any concrete game plan or a good team to execute it.
But I’m here to remind you (as I always do) that there is a SHITLOAD of time left for you to gather guests for your party.
It might be in your 30s. Or 40s. But you’ll find them, I promise.
I guarantee you’ll eventually find your zones. One tip to fasten that process would be that rather than randomly seeking out company, join hobby or activity classes. Even a sports or gym class if you can. Go where communities already exist. Because shared interests make it easy to bond.
There you’ll meet quality people who speak to your heart and listen to its beats.
Who understand your rhythm & know how to vibe with it at a cozy distance. A distance that brings you warm soup like feelings of safety but also respects your personal space.
You’ll meet folks you can cook brunch with on a Sunday morning. Folks who you can enjoy silence or simple things with.
Butttt…. And it’s a big but.
Until that happens, you should start getting comfy with the person you’re going to spend the biggest chunk of your life with – yourself.
When you start thinking of it less as loneliness & more as freedom, it’ll almost get addictive.
I go for movies I WANT to watch. Head out to restaurants I WANT to eat at. Travel in the style I WANT with my kind of itinerary (or none). And I do get a lot of stares or looks of pity from all the people who’ve come there in groups or as couples.
I wish I could stand up & express how content I am to dine in alone or sit in theaters all by myself. Soaking in the ambience, one breath at a time.
This is not to prove myself. But so that when they find themselves without a group, they don’t feel sad or awkward about it.
Yes sharing slices is always fun but that’s its own kind of joy, and so is getting to finish an entire pizza a la solo.
Does that mean I don’t crave companions or groups? That I never feel the need for having a girlfriend by my side?
Absolutely I do & I won’t deny it.
But over the years, I’ve learnt to stop letting these be items that I need to cross out ASAP.
I know they’ll happen at the right time & place. Or they won’t and I’ll still have lived a meaningful life.
But until that conclusion unravels, I’m growing fonder of my own company.
Strutting alone through Mumbai’s soaked streets this windy rainy season, I’m moving as per my own breeze in no set direction.
And it has led to sketching out many good plans that were previously dependent on having co-passengers. Plans I’m actually looking forward to. Plans that won’t be cancelled at the last minute because it’ll just be me.
More than enough.
You’re not “empty” waiting to be filled fully. You’re not unlucky. Nor miserable. You have everything you need to discover & enjoy the planet.
And like so many others who’ve felt the same, your late 20s might as well feel like a lonely time. But it won’t be that bad once you start befriending yourself first.