"As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are."
I was perusing blogs the other day and noticed the above quote in the margin of a blog friend's page. I did an audible "Hmmm..." And I immediately thought, "OMG am I that person? Do I make my friends feel like I don't want them to move ahead?" No author was listed, so I googled the quote and it's supposedly a snippet from something Colin Powell once said or wrote. If you look up the entire message, I think you'll see that it's about making wise decisions regarding whom you associate with, because you eventually become who you hang around. Which I completely agree with, by the way. A couple of weeks ago at church, we were asked, "who are you listening to?" Because whomever you're listening to (and seeking wisdom from) is a preview of the future you. So true - what a good way to put it. And I realize I have no authority to give mom advice as I'm an ignorant non-mom, but I was a teenager once. So I can say with confidence that it's absolutely crucial that you KNOW your teenager's friends. They are who they hang around. But this is something that follows us our entire lives - not just as kids. We are always being influenced. We are who we hang around. So yeah, I'm very careful about who I hang around and you should be too.
But aside from that whole argument... that quote got me thinking on a different level. I know I've mentioned again and again how I'd love to freeze time and keep my childless friends childless until I can join them. It's not like I voice that to friends or even really mean it. It's just that pit-of-my-heart selfish desire. It's much like being the "eternal" single gal and watching all your friends get married. You secretly want to keep a few unmarried pals to yourself until you can find your own mate. Of course you're *happy* for your friends and all their milestones - truly you are. But let's be honest, it sucks for you and me. And it's OK that it sucks. I know how all this crap affects me... I know my limits and what situations to avoid. I realize the funk that goes on inside my own head. I do. But after reading that quote, I'm left wondering... do I somehow impress that selfishness upon my friends? Do they feel like I can't be a good friend to them if they move on without me? Yes, I DO want them to stay where I am. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. But the bigger question is, do I make my friends feel like I need them to stay put in order to be my friend?
I've always considered myself to be very self-aware. But that doesn't mean I don't get blindsided sometimes. And I don't really know the answer to my question. I guess I'm just saying, I know the issues I have and what I need to do to get past them... but is it possible that my inward angst sometimes spills over and makes my friends uncomfortable and our relationships awkward? Do they feel like they have to tip toe around me? I'd like to just keep the hurt and awkwardness to myself, deal with it, and let the world continue to spin.
But I guess relationships are always growing and changing... it's inevitable, right? Who you associate with changes as you go through different stages in life. That's totally normal. You tend to gravitate toward others like you. Moms look for other moms. Singles look for other singles. And then there's us - the perpetual DINKS who can't seem to fit in anywhere. And little by little, people keep leaving our little club. I know I willingly alienate myself from certain groups... honestly, finding myself stuck in a circle of moms is my definition of hell. One on one, no big deal - I have lots of great momma friends. But when I get greatly outnumbered and all topics center around breast-feeding and labor nightmares and the terrible twos... just shoot me while I'm smiling and nodding.
I wish I had an easy answer. But I guess the only thing to do is to be OK with the fact that things change. I will continue to make time for the people who are important to me - no matter what stage of life either of us is in. I love my friends for who they are, not where they are. My friendships may look different from year to year, but that doesn't make them any less meaningful. So what do y'all think? Any advice? I'm not even sure I have a clear question. All I know is that quote made me go "Hmmm..."