I reckon the friends we make during our late teens and early 20s form the best and most enduring relationships of our lives. That’s not to discount the friendships made in later years, but there’s something incredibly comforting about having friends who have known me for half my life – or longer.
These are the no BS friends. The ones who have seen me at my best and worst and love me either way. The friends with whom I shared a few false starts to adulting, and who surrounded me to laugh or cry about those mistakes. The friends who have been there for so long it’s hard to remember a time when they weren’t.
As life has taken us on our respective journeys, we’ve ended up living in all corners of the globe. So whilst I may not be able to see some of those frends as often as I used to, the really cool thing is that we can pick up as if no time at all has passed – even if it’s been years between drinks, so to speak.
Yesterday I saw a friend who I’ve known since my late teens when I was at university. About 20 years ago, he moved to Melbourne, I moved to London and we fell out of contact with each other. But he lives in Hong Kong now, and we arranged to have lunch on my last day here before I flew home. And it was as if no time had passed since we last saw each other. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon – and early evening – and in fact resulted in having to change my flight home by a day, as there was no way I could make the flight. We may be now older and wiser, but some of our adulting decisions are still firmly questionable.
We discussed many things over the course of that very long lunch yesterday, including how we’re each different people now we’re in our (ahem) mid-40s. My favourte thing about this age and stage is that I’m really comfortable with who I am and what I stand for. That’s been the case for probably the past 10-odd years, but it’s taken a while to realise that’s where I’m at. I have a strong sense of who I am now and that brings a huge sense of peace. So much of my 20s and 30s were spent thinking I was too fat, or too tall, or too ugly, or too dumb, or too smart, or too much of the wrong thing – all with a view to trying to be accepted by other people for whatever trivial reasons seemed important at the time.
What a waste of time and brain power.
Over lunch and wine, we both agreed that feeling comfortable within our own skin brings a wonderful sense of peace and confidence. That confidence is important, because now when I meet someone who isn’t on board with who I am, then that’s OK. There’s no skin off my nose and in fact it’s their loss, not mine.
The person I am now is the culmulative sum of all the experiences in my life leading up to this very point in time. And the friends I’ve had since my late teens have been key influences in those experiences. By the way, my sense of self is not stationery. My idea of hell is doing the same thing every day for the rest of my life – professionally or personally. So I strongly believe that I need to continue learning and evolving as time goes by. But that evolution is in aligment with my personal ‘True North’.
Hangover and postponed flight aside, it was fabulous to re-connect with such a great person from the past and for our friendship to be further consolidated by our respective comfort in the awesome adults we’ve become.