“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” — Elisabeth Foley, “Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.” — Tennessee Williams, “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” — Walter Winchell, “It’s not what we have in life, but who we have in our life that matters.” — Unknown, “To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.” — Dr. Seuss, “A friend is one of the best things you can be and the greatest things you can have.” — Sarah Valdez

You hear these quotes about friendship and realize that they have different meanings for each of us. What is a friend? “one attached to another by affection or esteem” says Merriam-Webster dictionary. But we as adults know there are so many nuances in the rainbow of friendships. The concept starts developing around the age of three, and then with time, we get to meet many people with whom we might tie friendships.

Group of young multiethnic friends having fun laughing, and smiling, racing sitting on their skateboard – friendship, fun concept

There is a graph of the importance of friendship that goes exponentially as we grow up, it peaks by the end of high school when we think that friendship is everything. When we start university it starts to decline gradually as a student are more individualist, and then colleagues, looser, and eventually when we settle and create a family there is less time for friends, we don’t keep in touch as often as before, our lives take different turns, we all gradually change. And as we are focused to keep the amount of change under control, we focus on keeping up with our partners first as our relationship is the most important thing we should protect and not let fall apart. When we lose a friend, we lose a piece of our heart. But when we lose our partner, that is another level of damage. When friends are not changing at the same pace or having similar achievements, a natural process of friendship weakening unravels.

As an example: You had a childhood friend, you grew up together, were inseparable during high school, and even during university. Then, you got pregnant and had to quit school to marry and take care of your baby. She graduated, started an excellent job, and pursued a masters’ degree. Then she landed an even better job and got into academia. In the meanwhile, you got pregnant with baby number 2. During the last 4 years, your knowledge incomings are mainly focused on child care, healthy cooking, creative games, parenting books, courses, gym, etc. When you meet up, all you talk about is babies, health, housework, recipes, and how you have no time for yourself and all she talks about is job, career, salary, ambitions, a new guy she likes. It gradually starts to feel that you don’t have that much in common. I am not saying that you cease loving her. That will probably never change, but your friendship kind of wears off. You might even feel jealous. You might have been in her shoes if it weren’t for a sudden change of plans. But at the same time, you also can’t imagine your life without your bundles of joy. Well, this is life, and there is nothing to feel guilty about.

Friendship has different importance in several stages of life but you should always make sure that friendship is not wasting your time. There should be a hierarchy in your life: You, your family, your career, and your friends.

Your genuine friends will respect your time, will understand the value of spending your time with your family, and will not hinder your career progress. Having a good relationship, a happy family, and a successful career does not come without cost. It requires a time investment and genuine friends will know and respect that. They will arrange to keep in touch, without neglecting these other aspects of your life. Cultivating and maintaining a sincere friendship requires investment as all these other aspects of your life, therefore be careful to pick the right people and encourage them to grow with you. If you are evolving, encourage your friend to keep up. And if she is evolving, push yourself to keep up too.

Smiling business team with flip board in office

Now think for a moment about your job. You will notice that those who are single will organize office outings, weekend parties. While, married ones, rarely have time for these type of things, although they might feel a little jealous. If you are single and would love to have some fun, then go for it, why not?

But don’t create in your head a fake perception of friendship. When you started working there, it was for several reasons but not because your friends worked there. You chose the job, not your colleagues. Therefore do not feel like you somehow need to be friends. Do you need to be friendly? Yes, sure. Friends? Maybe, but you don’t have to. Spare that time for self-development, family time, an ice-cream alone, or business plans.

Don’t get me wrong. If you have a friend that is the companion of your soul, give her time and things, unconditionally. But if she is not, then be rational and choose you, your family, and your career first.

Closing your eyes and strongly dreaming about how one day you will both be millionaires and travel the world, will not increase your wealth. But individually working and encouraging each other to learn more and make money, probably will.

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