When Friends Grow Up

Well, the weekend trip was a huge success. Road trips are F-U-N fun. And I totally got called out for all my nerdiness at hour 2.5 when we were all laughing about something that made no sense and I said, “Hey! We already have an inside joke!” I was teased, and it was warranted.

After two days of new friend time (translation: wine, catchphrase, Bethenny Ever After), I came back to Chicago where a high school friend was in town for work. She’d been here all weekend, but since she was busy with meetings, we didn’t get to hang out until Sunday night. It was, as always, great to see her. And it reminded me of something I’ve been thinking a lot about as I near 30: How fascinating it is to see the friends I grew up with turning into such impressive, successful, smart people.

Take yesterday’s pal. Emily lives in Washington D.C, where she works in politics. She has had a direct hand in creating social change that will truly make the world a better place, and recently took a job where she will continue that work on a larger scale. If you can’t tell, I’m incredibly proud of her. Plus, she’s super smart and one of those people who doesn’t make me feel stupid when I have a question. I’m the first to admit that I have lots to learn when it comes to politics, and I feel comfortable asking Em because I know she won’t make me feel bad about not already knowing the answer.

Emily is just one of my many friends who does work that wows me—lawyers, doctors, television producers, artists, magazine editors. People are starting business, raising money for incredible non-profits, launching crazy successful websites. It’s not that I haven’t always admired my besties. I wouldn’t be friends with them if I didn’t consider them interesting, kind people.

But now that we’ve hit an age where we’re not just working at jobs but building careers, it’s incredible to step back and try to look at these people objectively. I’m constantly thinking, “Wow, I used to play dress up in your closet after Friday night high school basketball games and now you are legit doing Important Work.”

An old friend from summer camp sent me an email expressing a similar sentiment recently. “When I’m out with my camp friends, I love it when we’re talking about our professional lives. It makes me nostalgic that these are the girls that I played with when we were kids, performing in musicals and cheering in team clothes, and now they are successful, smart, professional women.”

It can make you feel old and suddenly grown-up, sure, but also so proud to call these people your friends.

Do you know that feeling? The one where you suddenly take a step back and marvel that the girl you used to have playdates with is suddenly this big-time, awesome professional? How does it make you feel? Proud? Jealous? Old? Nostalgic?

Book clubs are reading MWF Seeking BFF, and the conversations have been fascinating! Read it with your book club and you can use these discussion questions. Or I’d be happy to Skype with your group if it meets in April or later. (March is all booked up!)


Filed under The Search

10 responses to “When Friends Grow Up

  1. deshayla23

    Reblogged this on deshayla23 and commented:

  2. Lovely blog – I found this via the WordPress newsletter today. I haven’t made a move like you, but I have found it more difficult to make friends outside of the social structures of high school and university, so I’m looking forward to reading back through the archives to see how you have done it.

    This post in particular is really pertinent for me, it’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’m in my mid-twenties and have started to notice that my girlfriends are morphing into strong and talented women with great ideas & ambitions, and they are not afraid to commit passionately to realising these. I’m incredibly proud of them.

  3. Yes – I totally know what you mean. I am surrounded by very successful, smart, and creative friends – who are also very modest. I think that sometimes it’s hard to really see our strengths and so much easier to focus on our development needs. We should recognise and celebrate our friend’s achievements regularly. I have a great bunch of friends who are always there to pat me on the back or encourage me to take that leap. It’s a great feeling.

  4. Yes, totally. Keeping in touch with people from high school, you realize life is more than just wedgie fries for $2.00 and the latest cute guy down the hallway. Okay fine, the latter still matters. Anyhow, yes, one of my old friends who sat in front of me in French class now resides in China as she has done some incredible work for Oxfam, children orphanages and some relief work for Japan in her volunteerism. She’s traveled, hiked in beautiful mountains, and I sit here in admiration. It’s amazing how far we are, and yet how close we can still come together for every four years or so, unplanned, as an anniversary.

    Thank you for sharing nostalgia. 😀


  5. No, throughout my life my parents moved at the least once a year, and up to three times. Neither one of them were in the military. Which surprises a lot of people with all the moving.

    So I missed out growing up with friends. Every time we moved, I had to make new friends. It really became bothersome after a while, and especially the older I had gotten.

    Unfortunately, most of my adult life until just about 4 years ago, I was moving all the time too. I guess I was just never where I thought I should be. It was not until I started driving truck over the road that I found a geographic area that I loved.

    That is the southeast. I love it down here. They are my kind of people. Children mostly in the small communities are still taught very thoroughly respect. It’s all “Yes Sir, Yes Ma’am.” People wave at each other. People will talk to you even if they do not know you. You can just about pull up into someones driveways, and start a conversation. I love it.

    I have found my place to be, wishing this is where I had grown up since birth. It is not though.

  6. I know exactly what you mean. For me though, the emotion comes from the fact that a girl I used to go on school trips with and play on the slide and cry with when she got hurt, is already so grown up, married and recently had a baby! I mean from my point of view its just so overwhelming. I actually remember when we were kids in the 7th grade when her mom used to talk to my mom about letting us both go on camping trips and then in the 10th grade when she first giggled to me about a guy she likes and then cried to me about when she got dumped. When we used to compare notes on how much we studied for one test and then play dodge ball on the playground later. To think that she is now a MOTHER is just so unbelievable. We are now 23 years old but I still feel like a baby and she actually HAS a baby. Do I feel pride and happiness? Yes, on some level, to see her so settled in life. Do I feel sad? Well I don’t exactly know, its more like nostalgic. Every time I sit and think about it, I fall into this kind of melancholy, thinking about stuff like how fast time flies and how I couldn’t even catch it when it did. Weirdly, sometimes tears fill my eyes even though I’m not sad at all. I just think its really very overwhelming when friends grow up. You realize that it happened before you know it and right in front of your eyes. But how, you never know. Coming to terms with it is the complicated part.

  7. rosemarie tacorda

    Very nice blog. I can so relate to that. It feels so grown up seeing your friends actually doing things that matter and on their way building their own careers… which makes you think, hey! we’re just the same age and so you look at yourself and you realise, you’re equally doing important things that actually ocntribute to the society in general, makes you feel good!! It’s often nice to look back and reminisce. I’m blessed to have a long time friend whom i grew up with and still get to talk to and spend time with even though i have moved out from my home country. It’s so easy to relate to each other’s stories, we don’t need to explain and share our personal background and pasts before jumping on to the new story i would want to share with her. It’s just so easy to share dreams and look back and together be grateful of all the accomplishments we individually achieved. Each one of us is a reminder of our past / childhood (good and bad) and of how far we’ve come from that walk to the house from nearby school and friend’s house…..

  8. Nice blog, best of luck.

  9. I wouldn’t mind!
    My best friends and I are within the 20-24 age bracket although I have a close girl friend that’s 27. Really I would not mind if 10 years from now, we are big-time awesome professionals in our different fields.
    Matter of fact, that’s really what I want. I want to be really successful, and my friends too….and my sister too.
    Nothing would really change, because deep within, we are still the girls that shared secrets with each other. 🙂

  10. This past year welcomed the arrival of one of my high school bestie’s first child. We are in our late twenties and she is the first one to cross the mommy threshold. The experience of seeing her with her son the first time was so emotional for me, for the reasons you were discussing. I am so excited that my silly friends have grown up to be such incredible women. It is so fun to watch them grown and change. AND create new people I get to love on!

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