One minute you are lying about your age to buy alcohol, get an older man interested in you, enter clubs or procure a fake ID, and the next minute you’re actually in your twenties and reluctantly accepting that you were bamboozled, hoodwinked, deluded and swindled into thinking that life as an adult is great.
In our 20s we have no idea what we are doing with our lives. You might know where you want to end up, but you are utterly confused by the means to get there. You are basically winging everything and pacifying yourself by saying Omo I can’t come and kill myself, which I believe is not a terrible coping mechanism. It is during this period we need genuine friends (and sometimes a therapist) to assist in keeping our head above water.
Friendships in our adolescent years were relatively easy. You and your friends probably fought over the most mundane things: teenage boys, petty gossip, food (Yes, food. In secondary school, I and one of my best friends quarreled because she fraudulently didn’t share an extra piece of chicken equally. I thought then, if she can do this, she can kill me in my sleep) After fighting, it does not take much for the reconciliation process to begin.
Hangouts as teenagers were seamless. Most times, parents funded the outings and your schedule tallied with your friend’s, so there was never the issue of ‘being busy.’ Also, our problems then were minimal (and most times trivial.) The issues of those days were mostly “This boy changed his bbm status but has not replied my message” (which is still somehow a problem these days if we are being honest), “My mother is so annoying she won’t let me go out”, “Ah, what will I wear to this party?”, “When will my breasts look like hers?” This is not to say that teenagers do not deal with real problems but as an adult, your teenage battles are compounded with heftier adult challenges.
So now, while you are wearing your recently purchased bone-straight wig, feeling down that Anita has not answered your DM but is posting on her snapchat story, you are also wondering how you will use the last 4k in your account (the change that remained after buying your wig oh) to feed yourself for the remainder of the month that just started.
The challenges as an adult? Opor. Good friends who you can be honest and vulnerable with are crucial as you navigate this phase of your life. A good set of girlfriends will relate or empathize with your life experiences, offer solid solutions to the things you are dealing with, share meaningful and memorable moments with you and just be there for you, really.
It is nice to go partying with a group of girls wearing cute dresses from PLT, putting each other on your private stories, screaming ayyy as you guys grind on a sexy stranger and just experience good vibes together. However, you know what’s a better feeling than that? Knowing that when TGIF ends you can call at least one of the girls to discuss anything about everything because you truly know, this person is a safe space.
These days and in this peculiar age it is not easy to manage true friendships. From the truckload of responsibilities you are burdened with, to the plethora of stories out there about girls staining the white of other girls. No one has to tell you to respect yourself and be on your own since you already have so much on your plate. But if you give yourself and the amazing women around you a chance to become close, I assure you that it will be one of the best things you can do for your personal growth.
Here are 5 ways to nurture incredible friendship bonds:
1/ Be Intentional
A lot of conscious effort has to be put into friendships. Let your actions prove that you value your friends, and are committed to loving them in a way that pleases them.
You can do this by learning your friends love languages and making effort to speak it fluently. If they like quality time, map out time from your schedule to call or arrange a date between yourselves. If they are all about words of affirmation, toast them in their Instagram comment section or just remember to tell them how amazing they are doing. A physical touch inclined friend will appreciate warm hugs, holding hands or just cozying up with you. Buy gifts for your friends that like receiving gifts, it doesn’t have to be anything expensive, just something thoughtful. For your friends that are forever looking for someone to help them do something (acts of service), volunteer your time or resources when you can.
Just put energy into your friendships, the way I know you are out there putting energy into your romantic relationships. Friends are just as important.
Communication is honestly the key to a lot of functional relationships. Many times we get overwhelmed by tasks we need to get done and we forget to reach out to the ones that matter to us. It is what it is. What if I tell you that good communication is not always defined by frequency, but sometimes quality. If you have a busy schedule, the few times you speak to your friends, try to really talk to them. It isn’t nice if you make the conversation all about you. Develop good listening skills, so you can connect and react properly to the things they tell you.
A lot of misunderstandings will not exist if the parties involved simply talked about what was bothering them. When you feel something is off between you and your friend, respectfully talk to them about it, and when they speak, be willing to listen and not jump into conclusions or look for flaws in what they say or think of a rebuttal. Listen to understand their own perspective. Ghosting is a pretty convenient option when you feel a friend is moving mad and you just can’t deal, but it doesn’t serve you in the long run if you honestly care about the person’s feelings and you want them in your life for a long time.
Communication self-care tip: if you perceive that you and your friend aren’t in a good place for a reason you aren’t aware of, it is okay to reach out to them to find out what the problem is. If the person is not forthcoming, let it be and give them space, they will come around when they are ready. It is not your job to be interpreting the passive-aggression a friend is directing at you, especially in cases when you frankly do not know why she may be annoyed. However, it is her job to communicate.
3/ Set Healthy Boundaries:
A lot of misconceptions about female friendships is that anything goes if the girl is ‘a true friend’. I beg to differ. Set clear boundaries on the things you will not accept in a friendship. In turn, respect the boundaries your friend has put in place. Communicating your boundaries clearly and assertively reduces feelings of resentment in friendships. It can be something as simple as your friend not allowing people wear her shoes. Please don’t ask her, what is so special about your leg or is not just shoe? Let it end there. It can be something a tad bit serious, like setting boundaries on how your friend treats your values or on how they should respect your time.
On setting and maintaining boundaries, we should learn to extend grace to our friends when they step out of line. It is not every time you must be a scissors and cut off your friends for the simplest mistakes. I am judging girls who are ever ready to give their musty ass disrespectful boyfriends a 77th second chance, but quick to cut off their friends for messing up one time.
4/ Just mind your damn business:
Severe diarrhea of the mouth is the reason why people say Fear Women. The symptoms are clear as day: they won’t sleep well if they don’t open their mouths wahhh. You can be meeting a girl for the first time and she’s already telling you the life history of her supposed bestie— cho cho cho cho cho. Leaving the business that pays you, focusing on your friends matter, then going ahead to spread a gospel that doesn’t belong to either you, Matthew or Luke? O wrong nau.
Focus on being trustworthy and honest with the people you call your friends. When they confide in you, FEM. If you come across any of their gist, first know that your friend didn’t disclose the information to you for some reason, so it isn’t in your place to go around asking other people to fill in the gaps of the gist for you. If you are keen on getting verification or more details, be bold enough to ask them directly.
Even beyond friendships, constantly yapping unprovoked about the lives of others is a huge red flag. There are days when you are tempted to drop sweet gist about someone you know, in the midst of company that you are enjoying but don’t necessarily trust. Resist it the way you will resist the devil, because sometimes you’ll say the most harmless of things and think it has ended there. Just for you to wake up to discover that your words were twisted and the person those misconstrued words might have hurt has sewn a thread of your own life story on Twitter and is threatening to send boys to treat your fuck up. It might also send the wrong signal to potential friends that you are a gossip who cannot be trusted.
Avoid mindless gossip. Allow your friends secrets to stay secrets. Friendships are a safe space, and for a safe space to thrive, trust is imperative.
5/ Understand that your friends have their own issues too:
It is normal to forget that the world does not revolve around you. Earlier this year, I was convinced that the current pandemic was my punishment for the insane amount of club hopping I partook in the previous year. God was telling me to stay at home and unfortunately the rest of the world had to suffer with me. But then, that isn’t the case.
In this exhausting road of being a 20 something year old, you are going to feel lonely, and there will be days when it seems that no one cares about you. That is simply untrue. Your friends adore you but they too are fighting their own demons, so they cannot always reach out to you. There is no need to keep tabs on who said hi first or to be holding one-sided vex because your friend isn’t reaching out as much as you would like. All that mental gymnastics is tiring. As you are bothered about your sinking GPA, Tola may be battling a horrible boss, Ada’s mental health might be in shambles, and no one is saying anything to the other either because they feel like friends should be sensitive enough to know what’s going on or they do not want to burden you with their problems.
If you are going through a lot, feel free to reach out to your friends. Do not always expect them to magically realize that you are not in a good place. And you too, pause for even the slightest moment, extend warmth to your own friend. Ask her how she’s really doing (and don’t be satisfied with the generic “I’m fine” reply).
You don’t want to be that person who reaches out to her friends only when she is dealing with problems. To have good friends, you yourself must be a good friend. Friendship is a two way street.
I sincerely hope these tips help you build real, honest and fulfilling friendships, where the entirety of you is acknowledged and cherished. It is what you deserve.
Images: All images used in this article do not belong to us and were sourced from Pinterest.