Good news, you guys! My Wellness Wednesday series is back this week after a little summer break. And if I do say so myself, I think it was definitely worth the wait! Hallie and I teamed up to do a little post about friendships and it’s kind of special because neither of us have read each other’s posts yet. Let’s get to it, shall we?
One thing they don’t tell you as you get older? Friendships can be really f*cking hard sometimes. As you’re going through so many big life changes in your 20’s and 30’s (moves, new cities, marriages, babies, divorces, deaths, etc.), it’s inevitable that you’re going to run into some rough waters that test even the bestest of friends. Whether it’s drifting apart from your high school crew, moving away from your college friends after graduation, or hitting a hard time with a bestie, there are bound to be some not-so-fun friendship moments as we all navigate this thing called life.
Someone recently told me how it’s pretty normal for friendships to change and/or evolve every five years or so, and it makes sense when you think about it. High school is four years, college is four years, etc.
Just like all other relationships take work, close friendships can take some work, too. I used to naively believe that good friends never had their hiccups, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sure, there are plenty of friends that you might not ever have a conflict with, but I’m willing to bet they’re more of the surface-level variety, as compared to a really close friend. And if you haven’t ran into any type of disagreement with your closest best friends, there’s a good chance you might be avoiding it and sweeping things under the rug. (And if you’re anything like me, it’s all going to come out later on when you least expect it, no matter how hard you try to shake it off.)
Originally, I was planning to keep this post pretty surface level in terms of personal details, but I feel like I can’t pack the punch that I’m trying to without getting a bit more into it. So here it goes…
As a lot of you noticed, there was a little bit of a hiatus with Hallie and my usual shenanigans this spring. And if you didn’t, I’m thankful. While I’m so very grateful some of you are following along close enough to pick up on this, it made the situation even harder thinking that we were letting down all of you, in addition to what we were going through. I truly do appreciate the concern in the emails, comments, Snapchats, Instagram DMs, tweets, etc, but I hope you understand that I wasn’t in a place to respond at that time.
Earlier this year, Hallie and I went almost two months without seeing or speaking a single word to each other. Coupled with some personal shit going on, it was, hands down, the hardest few months of my life thus far. (Throw in some boy drama, fracturing my ankle and wearing the boot for 12 weeks, and my parents getting divorced all at the same time… Not the best of times, to say the least.) Since most of the internet knows us to practically be married (and our real-life friends, too..) and considering we actually live in the same building in Chicago, it was a really tricky few months, in addition to the emotional stuff. (Praying we wouldn’t run into each other in the elevator, dodging questions about the other in emails and meetings, not seeing mutual friends, etc.) And before anyone jumps to conslusions, it was absolutely nothing malicious and neither of us did anything ‘wrong.’ With so much going on in both of our lives, we simply kind of fell out of our groove for a little bit.
With the last five years of our friendship, we’ve been so lucky to be able to communicate without even trying. We’ve always been so in sync that we can literally know what the other is thinking even if we are on different continents. (It’s honestly kind of creepy, to be honest.) Sure, we’d have little tiffs every here and there or get on each others’ nerves occasionally, but we were always so good about chatting through things and moving on almost instantly. But over the winter, both of us were experiencing so many different things and changes in our individual lives and somehow we got to a place where communicating wasn’t easy. We weren’t so much on different pages as we were in different books (maybe even different libraries) and it was the most devastating feeling because neither of us could figure out how the fuck we got there. And we definitely didn’t know how get ourselves out of it! We’d try to talk it out like we always had before, but it just wasn’t working and to put it simply, something just felt off for both of us.
Before you know it, a random conversation in a bar turned into tears and arguing, me leaving, and us not talking for two months. It’s actually pretty surreal to look back on it, and I’ve since told Hallie how much I regretted not texting her the morning after that happened. As each day passed, it felt more and more bizarre. And as another day would go by without talking, it all seemed too complicated to try to resolve… I didn’t know what to say and I’ll admit, I stubbornly wanted her to reach out to me first. (Which is so stupid, by the way.)
But I will say, having come out the other side, everything happens for a reason. Even though those were a dark few months, it was such a deeply transformational period for me personally, and something I’m very fortunate to have gone through. And for the both of us, too! I feel like I’ve grown so much in a lot of different ways, and our relationship has grown so much stronger, too. As they say, “Storms make trees grow deeper roots.” (Not sure who ‘they’ is, but you get the idea.)
Much like I’ve mentioned in this post about reflection, sometimes you’ve just got to take a step back. This rings true in so many different facets of life… Taking a rest day from your workout routine, taking a vacation from work, taking a few minutes out of your day to meditate, and sometimes taking a break from certain relationships or friendships. It’s hard to see clearly when you’re in the thick of it, you know?
Taking a time out from our usual antics allowed me (/us) the time and space to reflect on our friendship, what dynamics had shifted, what mattered most, and what I needed to let go of.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about friendships (or really, relationships in general) this year…
- You’ve got to get comfortable expressing your needs and wants. There were a few instances where this came up for us and it basically comes down to the fact that people cannot read minds. This was tricky for me to grasp at first, because we’ve literally prided ourselves on being able to read each other’s minds. And I’ve realized vulnerability isn’t my strong suit. But it honestly all comes down to communication and being able to voice your needs in a friendship or relationship. If you have certain expectations, it’s only fair the other person knows about them. (And you’ll save yourself a lot of disappointment down the road!) If you feel as if your needs aren’t being met, there’s a good chance the other person might not even realize these needs exist. (Even if it seems obvious and you think they should ‘just know.’ Trust.)
- Love Languages. Do yourself a favor and read the book immediately. Piggy-backing off #1, knowing your friend or partner’s love language (as well as your own) can help your relationship in so many different ways. (Full Disclosure: I haven’t fully read the book yet, but a lot of the things I learned about myself went back to this. I’ve read a bunch of cliffnotes versions online, but it’s on my mile-long list of self-improvement books to read.)
- This one also goes along the lines of communication being key, but crosses over with the whole ‘never going to bed mad’ thing. One of Hallie’s and my biggest learned strengths is talking about the small shit so it doesn’t turn into big shit. It’s a whole hell of a lot easier to chat through something small, versus holding it in and running the risk of a big blowout later. And if something is going on, it’s easier to squash it sooner rather than later. (i.e. Don’t be stubborn and wait for them to apologize or reach out first. Swallow your pride and put yourself out there, even if you think they should be the one reaching out. It’s uncomfortable at first, but it’s worth it in the long run.)
- You can’t put a bandaid over a bullet wound. Sometimes there isn’t a quick fix or an easy conversation that will make everything better. Sometimes you have to dig deep and work through your shit both personally and together. And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sometimes it’s really hard and can take a few months of trying to work your way to a better place, which leads me to my next point….
- Hang on to the ones worth fighting for. I spent most of those few months thinking that Hallie and I wouldn’t ever get over our first big blowout fight. Never talking again and making new friends honestly seemed easier than trying to figure our shit out. Thankfully, I came to my senses and realized how ridiculous that sounded.
I’m no relationship expert, but I’ve come to realize just how many similarities there are between your friendships with your besties and your significant others. A few years ago I was talking to one of my good friends (who is married with kids) about the trials and tribulations of dating in NYC and how hard it is to find ‘the one.’ He told me, quite simply, that “you’ll just know.” And while we won’t get into my dating life, I think that rings true about friendships, too.
I called my mom after the first night Hallie and I hung out (back in Chicago in 2011!) and told her how it felt like Hallie and I were long lost sisters. (I later found out Hallie called her mom that night, too, and said something along the same lines.) As they say, When you know, you know.
I’ve actually read a lot about ‘soul mates’ recently and how we tend to put this fairytale idea on a relationship and if it doesn’t work out that way, the relationship was a waste of time and it’s back to square one searching for Mr or Mrs Right. I know opinions on this differ quite a bit, but I’m currently in the camp where I believe there will be a number of people that cross your path, that change your trajectory and help shape you as a person, and it might not always last for your entire lifetime. (Not saying this in a ‘your relationship is doomed’ type of way, but more so you could easily meet the love of your life at 45 and live happily ever after. I could go on a whole tangent about this, but let’s get back to the topic at hand…) I also believe these people can be males, females, and totally platonic, too.
There’s a saying that people come into your life for a reason, season, or lifetime, and no matter which one it is, there are always lessons learned and things you’ll take with you forever.
When I was operating under the mindset of thinking Hallie and my friendship was over, I kept thinking about how much our relationship had indefinitely changed me as a person. Even though it was over, I was grateful for the years that we did spend together. And while I was trying to remain optimistic about how “not everything lasts forever,” I finally realized a lot of it was my ego talking, trying to avoid the hard conversations and work it was going to take to rebuild the foundation of our friendship.
Having successfully survived this little bump in the road (that definitely wasn’t so little at the time), I can confidently say it feels like we’re finally on the other side. It didn’t happen overnight, that’s for sure, but I think we’ve gotten to a place where we both feel like our friendship is the best it’s ever been. The last two months have reminded me how special our friendship is and how I’ll never stop putting in the work it takes to have a relationship like ours. Hallie is my other half (hence the avocados 😉), partner in crime, and honestly my favorite person in the world. From the dumbest day-to-day banter that has me crying laughing on a daily basis to the seriously sappy shit that I’ll spare you, I’m so grateful every day that I have her in my life. Having experienced the opposite for a few months over the winter was a little wake up call to not take a friendship like ours for granted!
You might be wondering, “What’s the point of this post, Jess?” (And honestly, I sort of wondered the same as I mulled over this post for the last few weeks.) Over the years we’ve gotten so many questions and comments about our friendship… Do we get in fights? Are we actually as close as we make it seem? Have we ever dated someone the other doesn’t like? “You two are friendship goals!” The list goes on and on and on. We got to chatting and we decided it might be beneficial to shed a light on the un-fun parts of friendship, the real life stuff that all of us have gone through or will go through at some point!
In today’s world where life tends to looks perfect on Instagram, I think it’s important to remember that everyone is fighting their own battles and facing their own hardships, whether it appears that way online or not.
And if you’re going through it with your bestie or need some advice, send us a note! (DMs or emails work if you don’t want to publicly comment below!) We thought it could be cool to do an Instagram Live talking about friendships and answering any questions this coming weekend when we’re in Paris together? Let us know! xoxo
Be sure to go read Hallie’s take on things here!
Get the Look…