What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give your younger self?
I think about this question sometimes, but I’ve never nailed down a very clear answer for myself. But a few nights ago, I was at dinner with a group of new friends of mine, who all knew each other (for the most part) from high school. I was talking to two of the guys, one in his mid-30s, and the other in his early 40s. We started talking about how hard it is to make new friends at this age. By ‘this’ age, I think the unspoken assumption was that this was your 30s and above.
It was interesting to hear men talk about this problem too. One of the guys mentioned that the last good friend he made was a worker at his local Dunkin Donuts. They realized they shared a similar sense of humor and started hanging out. I love that story!
Our most fertile time for making friendships seems to be when we’re young and in school. There seems to be something especially fertile about the high school environment for making new friends. We’re so vulnerable and open to the world.
Anyway. Back to my one piece of advice. I’d tell myself to hold on tight to those friendships. I mean, I did and that’s the best thing I ever did, but I would have tried even harder. I had one best friend in high school who felt as close to a soulmate as I had experienced, and who I kept up a very close friendship with until our early-mid 20s. But we had a devastating falling out. Probably the biggest regret of my life was not trying harder to make that work.
But the point is – you’ll never get the chance to make friends like the friends you’ll make from when you’re pre-18. You can’t know at that age that those are the people who will be the emotional backbone of your adult life. They will be your memory keepers. So I would say to my teen self – make friends – as many as you can – and hold on tight.