Friendships in your twenties are tough. Everyone is at such a different place in life from one another. Some people are working at jobs they love and are killing it, while others are still trying to figure out what they want to do for the rest of their working lives. Some are in stable and serious relationships with people they plan to spend their life with, while others are single and happy about it, or perhaps bounce from one casual relationship to another. We start to have less and less in common, the disparities between us start growing, and jealousy creeps in.
I think one of the biggest differences, however, is our varying levels of maturity. Emotional maturity, social maturity, cognitive maturity in general — our brains all land in different areas on the map when it comes to being an adult. And I think the problem is, none of us really take this factor into consideration when situations arise.
If you’re friend’s first reaction is jealousy when you tell her about something you accomplished at work, maybe she hasn’t fully grown up and matured this part of her yet. Sure, she could be jealous because she’s in a slump at work or whatever, but she hasn’t developed the maturity yet to realize that your success isn’t her failure and just instinctively be happy for you.
But it works both ways. If you’re friend finds out that someone was talking shit about her behind her back, your instinctual advice to her might be to send a “nasty-gram”, as my mom would call it, to the perpetrator. Shoot that person a text and tell them why what they did was wrong and blah blah blah. But when your friend decides to instead shrug it off and deal with it later in a calm manner face-to-face, you don’t understand how she can just push away those feelings of immediate anger and not deal with the situation right away. Perhaps your friend has matured enough to know that taking immediate actions in anger won’t solve anything, and if this is a relationship she cares about sustaining, she’ll address the person when the time is right and when a discussion can be had.
I’ve been struggling with this concept lately, of how the root of so many riffs between friends are often caused by different levels of what is deemed acceptable, or the “mature” thing to do. Sometimes I know what I’m thinking and feeling or the way I’m acting is mature compared to the other person, but sometimes I know I’m being the immature one too. Sometimes the immature reaction is more fulfilling in the short term. Actually, come to think of it, the immature reaction is almost always more fulfilling in the short term. Maybe that’s why it’s immature in the first place?
Last Friday, I chose an immature reaction to an even more immature action by a friend, and I’m not sure it got anyone anywhere. While out at a bar with friends, I ran into my very recent ex-boyfriends friends. They began grilling me on “what really happened” and “why did I really end it”, questions I’m still trying to form the answers to myself. Then one of them told me that he ran into an old girlfriend of mine about a month or two ago, a friend I haven’t seen since back when there were still leaves on the trees. He told me that she went off about me and my relationship, telling him xyz about me and things I’ve apparently done, running her mouth on stuff she knows nothing about. I was shocked. Infuriated. It made me upset for so many reasons but mainly for a few. One, how could she POSSIBLY think that that was okay. So what if we haven’t seen each other in months. We grew up together, you would think that that loyalty runs a bit thicker than to the ex’s friends she had met only one time before. Why was her instinct to bash me to them, not protect or stand up for me?
Two, I haven’t seen this person in a while, and haven’t had a conversation with her about my feelings and how tough of a thing this was for me, how could she possibly know anything about the situation? Obviously she was fed false information from a friend who actually IS close to me, and that hurts a great deal too. A traitor on the inside, masking herself as a confidant.
I didn’t know how to react when he told me this. I was so upset, and while I was so sad about having someone do that to me, I think I was even more upset for the harm it probably caused on the other side. I had an incredible relationship with a stand-up man, and I didn’t want what we had being polluted and tainted by untrue words from a third party.
So, I got out my phone and started typing. I sent a nasty-gram to the friend, telling her that I couldn’t believe she would do that, and how she shouldn’t run her mouth about something when she doesn’t know the story or the situation. I felt semi-redeemed in the moment, but the next day, I knew if I actually wanted to have a discussion with her on this, I should of sat on it and called her the next day. That would of been the mature thing to do.
So, here we are. I wish I had the answers on when and how we all grow up a little bit and starting thinking and feeling and acting like fully-matured beings, but maybe that’s what your twenty somethings are for. Trying to bob and weave through the mess until you become a person you’re proud to wake up as each day. I’m mostly proud, but I also know I’ve got some work to do too. I guess in the meantime I can only focus on myself and my personal growth, trying to be a better person when I hit the pillow at night from the one who got off it that morning. Taking it day by day, and hoping that the rest of my peers follow suit.