In a few short hours, I’ll be boarding a plane and crossing an ocean to reunite with my best friends in the entire world. Between New York City and Paris lie 3,625 fateful miles, and those little miles are all that stand between us and our happiest, silliest selves. It’s a much needed break from this crazy city and demanding job—in short, I cannot fucking wait.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship and how it fits into our modern idea of the driven young professional. Many people I know have expressed great surprise at the fact that my friends and I actually made this trip happen. At an ever-changing, chaotic time in our lives, we have temporarily shelved our other responsibilities to come together. It’s easier to plan this kind of thing at a predefined transitional moment, like upon graduation. But we’re all in the working world now (and no, none of us are rich). It takes a whole new level of commitment and planning to do this—6 friends spanning 11 cities.
All of us managed to plan our lives around each other to do this. But that’s a weird thing to most people. Somehow, we have socially constructed that it’s okay to plan decisions around significant others, but not around our friends. An absurd notion.
Let me tell you a story of a boy. This boy was off to grad school for a math PhD (smart & adorably charming, if you’re keeping track). He got into one school in Michigan and another in New York. He had been dreaming of going to Michigan for school since undergrad, but the girl he was seeing went to NYU. Ergo, that choice seemed made for him—he packed his bags for the big apple. One month after moving, they broke up. Womp womp.
Not everyone would move for a significant other. It would depend, of course, on your personality and priorities, the relationship at hand, and a number of other factors. The point is, we (holistic, general “we”) can understand why someone might make this decision. It makes sense, it has legs in our conscious thought already.
So, what if friends did that? What if friends planned grad school around each other? That would seem kind of weird. It just would. We are not taught to prioritize friendships in that way, and we are very much pressured to be self-sufficient, independent, driven, goal-oriented young people. For better or for worse, we tend to pick career over community, with romance/love being the accepted exception.
Here’s another story, this one about a girl. One of my dearest friends recently finished her masters degree and was offered jobs across the country (passionate and effortlessly inspirational, if you’re keeping track). She was deciding between one in Irvine, California and another in New York City. It was a tough decision to make—she liked both positions a lot with a slight preference for the role in sunny California. Job description aside though, Manhattan had her heart. She loved the city, and she had some very loved loved ones in New York already. This girl delicately weighed pros and cons, and in an effort to do the right thing for herself and her career, she packed her bags for the west coast.
She has seen happier times. It’s not that she’s miserable in Irvine, but she’s also not entirely fulfilled—professionally fulfilled maybe, but not emotionally or socially. She doesn’t know anyone, and it’s not a super conducive place to make new friends. She will, of course. And she’ll blossom and grow. And I don’t necessarily think she made the “wrong choice.” But I do think it’s peculiar that she felt immense pressure to make this decision solely based in career trajectory with no real consideration of her most meaningful relationships. Choosing New York for a significant other would have been a digestible decision, but choosing it for friends might’ve felt too odd. One thing is for sure though—if this girl had chosen Manhattan and moved there for me, we wouldn’t have broken up one month later.
So don’t get me wrong. Don’t live your life for other people; that’s not what I’m saying. I was the first person in my group of friends to leave my college town after graduating. I moved with just two suitcases and flew across the country for a job that I was so in love with. It was the one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Personally, I recharge by being around my best friends, so naturally, I miss them immensely. That’s why I make the time to fly all over the world to be with them when I’m not happily living out a Sex and the City episode in New York. These are the decisions that make sense for me. They make me happy.
We all have different definitions of what makes us feel whole and fulfilled, and we should absolutely follow those inner voices. If that means never planning your life around anyone but yourself, then that’s completely fine. Do that, do you. But if you’re finding inner voices that crave the company of best friendship, that’s also okay. I’m here to tell you that it’s not actually weird. It’s actually an important happiness factor to consider, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.