Growing Up & Growing Apart
There’s no easy way to start this, it is what it is. After reading Hannah’s post over on Joy42, I knew I had to share this note I had written only for myself to get out of my mind. I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about relationships. These last few months I have matured by leaps and bounds. It may sound stupid, but I actually feel like I am growing up and even though I have always been comfortable with myself, lately I just feel really settled in who I am. I have always heard people say they stopped caring so much when they turned 30 and I thought, “Oh you just turn 30 and you magically stop caring?” Obviously that’s not what they mean but I am starting to understand how if something isn’t that important or isn’t serving you, why stress? Why care?
My boyfriend is about 10 years older than I am and even with him I would sometimes be wondering why he didn’t care as much as I did about certain things. When I would complain about my woes with my friendships or work, he is so much more relaxed and calm about it all. I would think “How can you not care about this? Wouldn’t you be upset if this happened?” He would try to explain that I would eventually stop caring so much but I thought, ummm no I won’t! Well, the day has come, I am growing and I don’t particularly care about shit or people that make me feel bad!
I know I am an adult and I have been supporting myself and living away from home for several years. I have always been very mature and responsible but moving abroad forced me to have to be even more responsible in ways I never thought I possible. Not that I was ever babied, but like a typical only-child I didn’t want for much (I am not spoiled by any means though, if you only knew my parents! Ha!) and growing up in America, I knew how everything worked in America. When I moved away I had to figure out how things in Ireland worked on my own. It may seem small but when you aren’t raised in a country, how are you to know how to do something as simple as book a doctor’s appointment there?
I have changed so much by moving abroad and meeting my partner. When I last lived in America I was in my early 20s, still going out a lot, and single. Now I am on the later end of “mid-20s” and as P puts it, “married without the piece of paper”. In only a few short years, my life looks very different, but I love both times!
The longer I am away from America, the more I really do consider Ireland to be my home. I felt at home on my first ever visit, so maybe it was meant to be. Because my parents moved to Nashville when I was still in college I believe this made moving to Ireland much easier. Having an 11-hour drive between us made the leap across the pond not as difficult because I was already used to the distance. That is not to say that is was not hard and does not continue to be difficult at times. By not having a connection to Tennessee outside of my parents helped in the process too. This totally sounds like I don’t want to be near my parents which is not true in the slightest! But by not being familiar with the area, not having grown up there, not having any friends there, etc. I didn’t have anything to keep me there, besides my mom and dad!
Something that I think would have happened even if I moved to another US city or state, would be a breakdown of relationships. This is something I have been pondering the last few months. I had a friend who had lived in China for a year come and visit me in Dublin. While she was here, she commented on how difficult it was to stay in touch with certain people back home when she was living abroad; people who she would have considered to be some of her best friends. I think she was relieved when I told her she was not the only one to go through this and it was something I experienced (and continue to experience) when I moved abroad.
Because of my different experiences back home I had growing up (thanks for all the travels, mom & dad!) and the new experiences I am now creating with my own little family by traveling and generally being in a position of having to be an adult, I am changing. Changing in ways that are only beneficial. It can be hard to maintain certain relationships when other people either choose to be stagnant, not grow up, or even are changing in positive ways for them, but not for the relationship.
But, how do you know when it is time to cut the relationship for your own sanity? When I was a teenager I feel like those in my social circle, my friends, and myself were so quick to stop speaking and not think twice about ending a friendship. But usually, a few weeks or months later, whatever had happened wouldn’t matter anymore and everyone was friends again. That’s all good and well when you’re like 16 and forced to see the same people day in and day out, but as an adult, it isn’t as easy. You can’t force someone to be your friend. And why would you want to? As sad as it is, friendships and relationships don’t always work. There have been friendships that I have truly mourned losing and others where I allowed myself to feel the sadness of losing what was, but making myself quickly remember what is, and why I had to take myself out of the situation.
This is not to place blame on others. I am not the best friend or partner at all times but all relationships require both parties to put in an effort. Relationships can end for a multitude of reasons and as weird as it sounds, I am really proud of myself for looking out for my mental wellbeing and removing myself from toxic friendships, especially over these last two years. I am at a point in my life where I do not have the time to dedicate to relationships that are one-sided. I cannot exert the effort, put myself out, and constantly still be in some sort of limbo friendship. I am far too old to be second-guessing my relationships. We are either in it together or not.
As I get older I am so grateful for the true friendships I have. That includes the friendships that while maybe we don’t talk every single day, I know they’re always on the other end of the phone and will reciprocate the conversation. The friends who even though you both get so busy, you take the time to send a ‘I’m thinking of you” text, and the friends who you just plain talk shit with all damn day but can ask for serious advice when it is needed. And you know they’ll tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want!
I know this may be a little depressing and slightly long-winded, but guess what y’all that’s life and I do not just get to the point! Growing up sometimes means growing apart. But as long as you’re growing, that’s what matters, right?