I’ve been posting ad nauseam about the phenomenon that is the quarter-life crisis.
Perhaps it’s because I’m watching a sudden shift in not only my own perception of my world, but also because there’s been distinct movement among my social groups and the geographical locations of my closest friends of late. It’s not necessarily disconcerting so much as it is a call for reflection. (That’s a lie; it’s terrifying in the same way that Vitamin C song Graduation Day is bittersweet and veiled under the falsehood that you’ll be “friends forever.”)
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not so much a “crisis” (although at times it most definitely is) as it is the natural ebb and flow of things, which are supposed to change as we age and hit specific developmental milestones. Somewhere (on a browser, obviously, but which one? and which computer? and which folder? and when?), I have a bookmark that will lead me to an article about different life stages. That’s a less than thrilling description of it, of course, but I remember being quite fascinated by it.
Lately, I’ve been reminded how people come into your life, and leave it or stay. It’s the same ebb and flow, the constant strengthening and weakening of bonds . I have looked around at the people who I care about the most and I am filled with awe at the immensity of the webs of my life that have been woven while I was busy elsewhere, otherwise occupied.
Obviously I have my family, who have endured my presence (I’m joking; they absolutely love me) since my birth, who have loved me from my adorable infancy through my gangling nerd years through the goth phases all the way to now. (My little cousin, who’s 11, was asking me about my red hair in high school. “Your hair was so weird,” she told me. I don’t necessarily disagree, but it’s harsh to have to answer to the embarrassing photographic evidence of your adolescence.)
And then there are my friends. The people who come into your life and who shape you in more ways than you will ever know. They are the people who know you better than you know yourself, the people who love you, support you, and stick by you even when things get weird. (And things are going to get weird.)
I’ve had many moments where I’ve been able to look at my friends and think about how amazing each and every one of them is. But sometimes, it’s that collective larger vision that comes from removed inspection that impacts you the most. It hit me a few weekends ago, in the middle of an indoor improvised dance floor. I had that flash of pure bliss, the one that overfills your heart and spills into your body and eventually, reaches up into your soul.
It’s the collective that we create, that we participate in, and the narratives that stem from those creations that form the most bountiful parts of our lives. They are the main artery in our life stories, the paths we so often stumble down. I am so lucky to have a group of friends to share the journey with. These relationships, each its own particular bond, form the basis of our identities and provide reprieve from and insight into our world.
Sometimes, it’s worth a reminder that we are each individually loved by a multitude of people, that our own strengths allow us to contribute to something larger than ourselves and that our weaknesses can be overcome by surrounding ourselves with the kinds of people that we admire, respect, and most importantly, enjoy.
Stepping back to look at the people who comprise our lives can be nice reminder of how what we put out into the world (all of the good things: compassion, support, positivity, humor, love, goodwill) can bring back untold benefits and joy. Or as my brother would say, “You’re too blessed to be stressed.”