If you were to sit down and really think about all the people you've labeled as a friend throughout your life, the list would be surprisingly long. As a 22-year-old who isn't even a year out of college, I'm starting to believe that the word "friend" is thrown around too carelessly.
People are cautious about using the word "love." It's protected and sheltered from vulnerability until the feeling is 100 percent genuine, until a person is completely confident in declaring "I love you" to someone else. It takes time to earn that trust, which makes me wonder why many are so quick to declare friendship. Does building a friendship not deserve the same amount of time and trust as building other relationships?
In college, I made a lot of friends very quickly after joining a sorority. I was on campus for less than a week before entering a social situation unlike anything I'd ever experienced before. Over 200 girls became my "sisters," and I barely knew them. While I don't regret this decision, I can't help but wonder how my friendships would be different today if I had taken more time to discover myself and build them from scratch. I reflect on four years and wonder why some of my friendships weren't as fulfilling as I had hoped.
Maybe it has to do with the effect technology has had on Gen Y. True friendships are being impaired by the distraction of social media and the facade people project on Instagram, Facebook, and elsewhere. I can't count the number of times I've sat at a dinner table and seen almost every face down, illuminated only by the brightness of an iPhone screen. Or the number of times I've watched the same documentation of a gathering on Snapchat from 10 different perspectives. And every time I think to myself, "This can't be the way my parents spent time with their friends."
After going through ups and downs with friends who turned out to be undeserving of that categorization, I spotted a quote that really resonated with me.
"Girls compete with each other; women empower one another." This quote represents the difference between mature adult friendships and friendships that are based on nothing but association. Women should surround themselves with women who encourage and advocate for them rather than girls who only foster negativity and tear others down.
In recent months, I've become more guarded when it comes to who I recognize as important in my life. Friendships have come and gone, friendships I thought would withstand distance and time. I've grieved the loss of friends who once were fun and supportive, but those people have taught me the difference between fleeting and enduring relationships — and I'm grateful for that lesson.
I'm 22 years old and have only begun to figure myself out, but I've made an important commitment that from now on, my energy will be put into friendships that have value. I'm less concerned about the quantity of friends I have and more eager to nurture my relationships with friends who have been there through thick and thin.
Product Credit: Getting Back to Square 1 shirt, MiH overalls, Equipment scarf, Stuart Weitzman shoes, Brixton hat, Objects Without Meaning dress, Grace Lee for Clare Vivier bracelets, Iconery signet ring