Living Far Away From Close Friends and Loved Ones

When I moved to California two and a half years ago, I left behind my parents and a lot of my closest friends. It was the toughest physical move I’ve ever had to make, because I left a robust support network to live in a city where I knew I’d struggle to make new friends. The first year was incredibly rough, I felt vulnerable and desperate to meet people. Yet, since I moved from NYC with my boyfriend at the time, I spent a lot of time with him and didn’t make as strong of an effort as I could have to make new friends. So some of the struggle could have been alleviated had I made more of an effort. But…

Flash-forward to 2.5 years of living in LA, and I feel much more contented and happy in my support network here. Having a weekly writer’s group has really helped with that, as well as meeting new people through the UCLA connections I’ve made from graduate school.

However, my closest friends are still my friends from home. And I miss them. A lot. Sometimes I don’t even realize just how much I miss them until I re-connect with one of them. For instance, I just spent an hour and a half on the phone with one of my closest friends from high school, and it felt like my heart battery was charged up again.

The more I come to face the reality that I may be in LA for quite a long time, the more I want to find ways to keep close to my old friends. And I read a startling fact about close friendships and face-to-face time that made me want to buy a plane ticket home to NYC stat.

In the book The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier written by Susan Pinker, she writes:

In a study of the effect of Internet use on social relationships in adults aged eighteen to sixty-three, Dutch psychologist Thomas Pollet found that time spent using online social networks resulted in more online contacts but didn’t translate into genuine offline connections or a feeling of closeness. Indeed, not only is online contact experienced as less fun, but without face-to-face contact, social relationships decay and are soon replaced by others… “Emotional closeness declines by around 15 percent a year in the absence of face-to-face contact, so that in five years someone can go from being an intimate acquaintance to the most distant outer layer of your 150 friends,” says Dunbar.

Isn’t it crazy to hear that emotional closeness decreases by 15% every year you don’t see your friends face-to-face? When I heard the data quantified like that, it really shook me up. Would it change the way you travel? Because for me, it makes me want to schedule more girls weekends with my friends out of town, and make sure I have a solid two-week trip home to NYC planned at least once a year. I never want to decline 15% each year in closeness with my best buds.

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30 Women Around the Globe Reflect on Life at 30

International Women’s Day was just last week- March 8th. In honor of that day, Stylist magazine interviewed 30 women, all age 30, from all over the world. Here’s the link to that article: This is what 30 looks like: women across the world share their experiences. 

The women talked about their careers right now, whether they were single, married, or in a relationship, whether or not they had children, whether they were where they thought they’d be at 30, and more.

The biggest thing I noticed about the article was the discrepancy in the experiences and the voices. Every woman was at a different point in their life- some were 30 and worried about being single, some were 30 with 3 kids. Some were 30 and stay at home moms, some were 30 and running their own business. Some were 30 and worried about money. Some were 30 and worried about going outside at night because in their country they might be raped or killed. “Women aren’t safe. I can’t walk the streets for fear of being killed or raped; this is the product of patriarchy in my country.” – Sandra de la Cruz, Lima Peru.

Some were super happy with their lives while single, some super happy while married with kids. Some seemed unsatisfied while single, some seemed unsatisfied married with 3 kids. I feel like reading about all these different experiences for women at 30 really fights the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) issue that I sometimes have. I want to do everything at once. I want to experience life with my own business, and also maybe have a life learning at another company. I want to experience being pregnant and having a child, but also experience being happily married into my fifties and sixties without a child interrupting, and without the life-changing responsibilities of a child.

It’s hard to want everything at once, and to want everyone else’s experiences too. This happens to me sometimes- I’m in a happy vacuum alone, enjoying my time, but then someone will tell me about something they’ve done, and I’ll want to do it too.

The article really brought home how different experiences can all be valid and happy-making, and there’s no one portrait of what a thirty-something’s life should be like. Follow your own happiness and make your own life and you won’t miss out on anything.

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Happy 34th Birthday, Jane!!! (And All About the Magical Number 34)

It’s after midnight, which means it’s officially the New York birthday of one of my absolute favorite people in the world: my strong, beautiful, talented, and amazing co-blogger and best friend- Jane Miller!

Jane is one of the most kind, fun, creative, and exciting people I know, and I’m proud to call her my friend for more than 16 years now! The thirties have only continued to bring us both new adventures and growth, and each year we explore something unique and different- I’m excited for the new joys and wild discoveries that this year will bring.

In tribute to Jane’s 34th birthday, I’m gonna list some of the coolest, wackiest and most interesting meanings, uses and symbolism for the number 34:

  • The Magic Constant of a 4×4 magic square is always 34
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  • 34 is the 9th Fibonacci number
  • The Internet rule #34 is: “If it exists, there is porn of it.” Hmmm, interesting…
  • Dave Matthews has a pretty relaxing song called #34.
  • 34th street in Manhattan is “Herald Square”- a very famous and busy area of New York.
  • 34 is the atomic number of selenium.
  • There are 34 islands in the Mediterranean (hint, hint, might be birthday trip time).
  • 34 in numerology represents strength gained through experience, as well as growth obtained from observation of both people and things.
  • Also according to numerology, 34 symbolizes inner wisdom and intuition. The essence of 34 in this realm is:
    • Introspection
    • Analysis
    • Creative self-expression
    • Optimism
    • Spirituality
    • Pragmatism
  • The biggest numerological symbolism of 34 is knowledge of self and accumulation of wisdom.
  • 3.4 is internet slang for “all the time” or “constantly”..this is derived from the term 24/7 turned into its decimal equivalent, 3.4. Jane is constantly awesome.
  • 34 is a heptagonal number– a mathematical term meaning that it’s a figurate number that represents a heptagon- a figure that has 7 sides. And 7 is the best single digit.
  • Most importantly, 34 means HAPPY BIRTHDAY JANE!!! I love you so much!!!
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Happy Birthday, Jane!!!! Woohoo, New Year!

Where Do People Meet Their Significant Others?

I’m currently reading comedian Aziz Ansari’s “Modern Romance” – a book about how modern relationships form and grow with all the new online dating technology at our disposal. It’s pretty fascinating to see how things have changed.

One of my favorite sections of the book so far explores how people meet their husbands/wives. According to the research cited in the book –

In 1940, the two biggest ways heterosexual Americans met their spouses/significant others was through family (24%) and friends (21%).

Now however, things have changed because we’ve got the internet. Between 2005 and 2012, one third of couples who got married met online. Wowza.

The most interesting surprise for me was that in 1995, the portion of people who met through friends – 40% –  fell drastically in 2010 to 28%.

Personally, I’d much prefer to meet someone through friends than online. And I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling. So why is there this big drop? We all still go out with our friends, right? We’re all looking to set our friends up, right?

Maybe it’s that we’re so absorbed in our phones when we go out that we’re not paying much attention to the people at the bar, or at the music or sporting event we’re at. Our little online bubbles provide us with much needed stimulation, but they’re taking away the opportunity to really engage with ‘friends of friends.’ What a shame.

Maybe we’ve become too cynical – and we think we have a better chance online than meeting a new friend at a bar. Or maybe our friends just assume we have our little online dating bubble and they don’t want to interfere.

Whatever the case may be, I say meeting through friends of friends can be one of the best ways to meet a future partner. So if you’re hosting a night out, why not play matchmaker and send some good karma out into the world?

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Less FOMO in Your 30s

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious here, but I’ve found that I have much less FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) now that I’m in my 30s. I distinctly remember feeling very unsettled on Friday and Saturday nights in my 20s when I didn’t have plans. I’d wonder what everyone else was doing and feared that I was missing out on establishing key bonds and friend/romantic opportunities because I wasn’t out on the town.

But now, I spend at least one Friday or Saturday night per weekend at home, vegging out. Usually that involves wine and good TV/movies (now it’s Showtime’s Billions, Hulu’s The Mindy Project, HBO’s Getting On, and the list goes on…). I also love reading, and books give me lots of warm fuzzies during my downtime.

I used to have guilt about using this time to be by myself and enjoy my own company on a  weekend, but not anymore.

Maybe one of the reasons is that I don’t really go on Facebook a lot – I’m more an Instagram type of girl, and my favorite posts are usually inspirational posts from Elizabeth Gilbert and my celeb girl crushes. So, my social media usage doesn’t bring me down, but instead serves to lift me up (most of the time).

Psychological studies have proven that most FOMO is derived from social media. In fact, there’s a quiz you can take called “Rate my FOMO” that seems to gage your level of FOMO based on your social media usage. You can check it out here, Rate my FOMO.

Studies have shown that FOMO seems to happen when your social/psychological needs aren’t being met, and thus you turn to social media for connection. Then, the vicious cycle begins – you see your ‘friends’ doing fun activities without you, and you wonder why you’re not doing these cool activities.

So, maybe in our 30s, we know how to take care of ourselves better. We know how to meet our psychological and social needs, and we know the basics of self-care.

What do you think? Do you have less FOMO than you used to?

Missing Out by Not Having a Wedding

The other night I watched the first episode of the Netflix documentary series, Chelsea Does. It’s a non-fiction show by comedian Chelsea Handler where she explores one topic in-depth each episode, including topics like racism, silicon valley and marriage.

The first episode is about marriage. Chelsea says she’s never been one to fantasize about weddings. And quite frankly, neither have I.  The idea of walking down the aisle and being the center of attention sounds very unappealing to me.

But you know what does sound appealing? The celebration of friendship that weddings offer. Think about it – your closest pals give speeches, they throw you a bridesmaid party, and they write sweet, sentimental things about you in scrapbooks. Also, sometimes your bachelorette or bridal shower is the one time in your life that all of your female friends will be together. How awesome is that? It’s pretty amazing. I love going to bridal events and meeting all of the other friends my friends have from different periods of their lives.

So when I think about not yet being married or having a wedding, I think about missing out on those friend bonding experiences.

Maybe there should be an alternate event for those non-married folks? Like a mandatory all-close-friend birthday getaway?

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Should I Play the Lottery In My Thirties?

Last week the Powerball jackpot was 1.5 billion dollars. A bunch of my friends bought tickets and a few of them even won…four whole dollars.

When one of my friends first told me he went and bought a bunch of tickets, I’ll be honest, I was little upset with the idea. He asked me if I was going to buy any myself, and I replied with a haughty, ‘no, I think I’m going to invest my money and save it, thank you very much.’

I kinda felt amazingly proud of myself- the lottery (and gambling in general) are things that I can easily control my response to and I value that about myself. I have insane self-control when it comes to spending money on things that I consider wasteful. I don’t know if I’ve ever purchased a lottery ticket- maybe I bought some for an ex many years ago.

However, something about my own response bugged me- was it really so bad to buy lotto tickets? That same week, I received an email newsletter from a writer I love, Ramit Sethi. He was talking about how silly it is to discourage people from buying lotto tickets, because, in a way, you’re discouraging them from dreaming. Ironically, he was actually writing in response to bloggers who scoffed at people who bought lotto tickets. He said:

Their articles [finance bloggers] reflect a total lack of understanding about WHY people buy lottery tickets. Hint: People who buy lottery tickets don’t really expect to win. People know the odds are astronomically, cosmically against them. So why would they do it?

The answer: They’re buying permission to dream about winning it.

If you think about it, $2 for a dream is well worth it. If you live a life where you’re counting pennies, isn’t it worth paying $2 for the dream of becoming fabulously wealthy — even if just for an hour? Hell, if you live a humdrum life of $60,000/year with 2% annual raises and one 2-day vacation a year, you can see why people would crave an escape.

By the way, there are a LOT of other ways we pay for an escape: Movies, fancy clothes, and so many more things. Isn’t it funny how lottery tickets cost less, but incur more wrath from judgmental people? It’s fun. It makes you feel good, and that’s a great reason to spend $2. OF COURSE lottery tickets are mathematically stupid. So is going to a bar to meet someone…but we do it anyway.

I never really thought about lotto tickets that way, but they’re a tiny price to pay to dream about something way bigger and more exciting in your life. Sure, we can all visualize and meditate and dream for free, but any tool that helps you feel happier and more passionate about life, is harmless, and only costs a couple of dollars, is absolutely, totally worth it. Use the tools that you discover- little indulgences here and there can help you feel better and dream exponentially bigger. Make the ‘silly’ choice sometimes.

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Can You Make New ‘Besties’ in Your 30s?

Have you made a “bestie” in your 30s? Not a friend you already knew who you grew closer to, but someone completely new – someone you met in your 30s. I think it’s challenging, because you don’t have the built-in network of people your age because you’re not in social settings like school or after-school programs. And the workplace is a mix of people of varying ages and also, they have varying levels of desire to socialize outside of work. If people have families, most of the time they’re going to want to get out of work as soon as possible.

For me, I’ve been lucky because I’ve been pursuing film in graduate school and so, I’ve been around some people my age. But – not many! The majority of my classmates are in their 20s, and I feel a definite difference between us. But that could be my own bias.

I’ve also worked in jobs (including at a film school), where there were people with similar interests and passions, and so that naturally lent itself to friendships.

Can the depth of new friendship be the same, despite the fact that you haven’t known each other as vulnerable teenagers or college students? I answer that question with an emphatic yes! Especially if you’re single, because when you’re single, you generally have more time and radiate more of an openness to talk and connect. You can be looking for a more “serious” friendship if you’re not in a relationship. I realize that sounds a little funny, and so to clarify, what I mean is that if two people are single, they can devote more time to a new friendship – kind of like you did in your school days.

The same way you can find your soulmate at 45, you can meet a new best friend at any stage in your life, and have the same depth of connection. For instance, this summer I took a job at an arts summer camp, and while it began as a one-day temp job, it ended up getting extended to about seven weeks. And during the time, I made some amazing friends, and I am pretty confident I’ll be friends with them for a long time. We met over a short duration, but there was a deep understanding between us that we recognized immediately. I also happened to be in vulnerable stage when I met them and was going through some personal transitions, but wow – when I met them, I knew – I would be friends with them. I felt safe immediately and like I could be myself. More so than I had during my entire two years at graduate school. So, you just never know where and how you’ll meet your next ‘friend soul mate.’ In the same way we romanticize how we might meet our romance loves, I like to think about the magic of meeting a new friend who you just know will be a lifer.

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The More Time and Less Time of Stopping

I recently went through a period where I had trouble feeling grateful for things. I wrote about some of my struggles in What Happens When You Start Feeling Empty – I came to a point where I realized I was having difficulties accessing any feelings at all, never mind grateful, peaceful ones.

I’ve started to come out of that funk, at least for awhile, and I think the return of some peace in my life has a lot to do with having gone through the emptiness in the first place, acknowledged it, and just stopped.

Stopped. Cold.

Instead of trying to push through the empty feeling and just get it out of my life by sheer force, I sat with it. I stopped what I was doing- the things I could stop anyway- the busyness and busy rituals that I felt I needed to do but actually didn’t. The emptiness was trying to tell me something and I needed to listen. Jane talks about sitting with feelings of sadness in her last post The Solstice and Acknowledging the Harder Parts of the Holidays. I think you can sit with any feeling, including an empty lack of feeling.

I turned the non-feelings over in my head. I wrote about them here. And then, slowly, painstakingly at first, the feelings changed. And I changed what I was doing. Tiny, experimental changes. I starting a new morning ritual instead of my beloved meditating. I exercised in a different way. I started seeing more friends and changed my work habits a bit. I read a different book.

I didn’t make major changes. Just small ones that felt a bit better. And then I started to feel a bit better.

I didn’t have any more time in my life to sit with my thoughts or change my routines or stop what I was doing. But time is a funny thing. It’ll expand when something is important to you.

Even though the holidays are busy and stressful sometimes, give yourself the gift of your own time for awhile. Peace will come.

And isn’t that what the holidays are all about anyway?

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Are You Still A Good Friend In Your Thirties?

I just got back from visiting Jane in LA and it was fantastic. I’d been working in LA for two weeks, so I took the opportunity to extend my stay for 7 days at Jane’s apartment in Santa Monica. It was the best decision I could’ve made.

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Jane and I managed to spend 7 days with almost every hour together, and we still felt like we could’ve easily used more time. We went to all kinds of delicious restaurants, from brunch cafes to vegetarian taco places to incredible italian (we’re ridiculously happy foodies), while also managing to find a mac and cheese festival (9 different mac and cheeses in 2 hours), and quite a few great drink deals and happy hours.

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We also managed to both get quite a bit of work done together- between writing and blogging and marketing and other job-related things. We also got in quite a few physical activities such as biking for quite a few hours and running and walking all over the place. We met up with friends and coworkers and I even got to go to her weekly writers workshop.

In short, it was a successful trip. However, one of the things we talked about and have had quite a few serious discussions about in the past is maintaining our friendship even when we’re in relationships.

We’ve both found that it can be easier to maintain friendships when single. I’ve seen this happen time and time again with acquaintances who fall off the face of the earth when they find a significant other.

I know it has happened to me in the past, especially in my early 20s, where I expected all my friends to understand that I didn’t have as much time to spend hanging out with them. Some of my friends then drifted away- probably angry at me for being so stupidly unaware that I was pushing them away. Luckily, I realized what I’d done and now heavily prioritize spending time with my friends and family.

I feel terrible even thinking about those days, but I think you have to go through the relationship/friendship vortex to understand. At first, when you’re in a relationship, it can just seem like you don’t have nearly as much time to hang out with your friends. However, if you let that feeling lead you, and you stop appreciating and tending to your awesome friendships, you’ll pay a heavy price.

You don’t want your significant other to be your only friend. Even if you’re married, I think it’s a very bad idea to only hang out with your significant other, or only give minor thought to your friends. Worst case scenario, you break up or get divorced, and then you realize your good friends are gone because you’ve been pushing them away for years.

Jane and I always promise each other that we’ll tend to our friendship no matter what, and I think that’s one of the biggest reasons we’ve been friends for so long. During this trip we made a point to talk once again about prioritizing our friendship whether or not we’re in relationships. It’s actually a manual thing- you need to put friends right up there with career and relationships, especially during the busy, hectic years of your thirties. Good friends are strengthening and amazing- never take them for granted.

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The Trouble With Thankfulness In Your Thirties

So Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we’re still here, facing the possible Black Friday carnage, and the insane cyber Monday heading directly our way.

We may have felt sincerely grateful on Thanksgiving for our situations and our families and our friends, but now holiday shopping is upon us, and work is crazier than ever, and it’s hard to remember the peace we may have felt for a second or two last Thursday.

I was talking to a friend about this the other day- how gratefulness slips through our fingers so easily, especially with years of built up stress and to-do-list habits. I can be grateful for a moment for one second, and then suddenly my mind will be racing with worry about something I don’t have or what I have yet to get done.

It’s extremely difficult to let go of the sometimes very painful old-feeling moments in life- those moments where we’re hit with a sad situation, or when we screw something up or feel guilty about something, or someone hurts us, and those same-old-feelings come up once again. It’s very hard to be thankful for all we have, when seemingly large problems are hitting us with 30-plus years of habitual worry once again.

However, I feel like it’s possible and actually quite necessary to feel thankful in my thirties way more than I have before. Every day I try to start again. It’s like brushing your teeth- you have to keep doing it- it doesn’t just last.

There have been some stressful work situations going on in my life lately where I’ve been angry and feeling wronged and hurt. Sometimes I’ve stewed in those emotions and sometimes I’ve expressed them and tried to be clear about what was wrong. All of that action had its place, and I think that it was good to express the problems and my feelings about them. However, after awhile, it became impossible to stew in the negative feelings anymore. I was causing myself unhappiness and grief. There was nothing to do but to concentrate on things that were still good- and there were many things to be thankful for.

I started feeling thankful for people who smiled at me when they walked by. For children who were adorable and quiet and sweet. For the cool breeze I felt as I walked to work. For the beautiful park I was able to run around in the morning. For coworkers who made funny jokes. For hot showers. For beautiful texts from my family and friends. For delicious hummus. For my Spotify playlist.

And I started to feel better.

We have so much and we forget. I think that forgetting is normal and natural. The habit of not thinking about the small stuff has been a survival tool that’s gotten us through more than thirty years of life. We want more and more- which can be great. We’re in our thirties- we have big dreams. We want an amazing career and an amazing marriage and maybe a family and a creative empire and a wonderful home and creative control and financial freedom.

And those big dreams are extremely important. Huge, in fact.

But we’ll never appreciate them if we can’t be thankful for what we have today.

Each moment is a win. Each day is jam packed with small and beautiful things. Don’t be afraid to appreciate them again and again and again- Thanksgiving is every day.

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Beautiful terrace view on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles 

What Do You Value Most In A Friendship?

Is is loyalty? Acceptance? Similar interests? Kindness? Ability to make you laugh?

Has what you valued in your friendships changed as you’ve gotten older?

Loyalty is pretty high up there for me, but I would say I’m most drawn to open minded people who are free-spirited. Also, the word wild keeps coming up for me when I think of characteristics I value in a friend. I don’t mean “wild” in a  party-all-the-time type of way (though I do love a good drinking buddy), but rather, up for adventures, new projects, and a general open-mindedness to how we, as human beings, can exist in the world. I’m often attracted to people who march (happily) to the beat of their own drummer. Friends like that encourage me to do the same.

As I’ve moved into my 30s, I’ve found it more difficult to make friends, so one quality that I now always look for is someone who prioritizes friendships. People who don’t call me to hang out only when their boyfriend is out of town, or when they want some specific information from me. I want friends who value friendship – and see that it has an equally important place in one’s life as romantic partners and even family.

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”
– Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“I define friendship as a bond that transcends all barriers. When you are ready to expect anything and everything from friends, good, bad or ugly… that’s what I call true friendship.”
– Harbhajan Singh

“What do you most value in your friends?
Their continued existence.”
― Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir

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Facebook and My Self Esteem

So, tonight I was watching the awesome “Master of None” – comedian Aziz Ansari’s new show, and I decided I wanted to post about it on Facebook. But I kept second guessing myself. I thought: Is anyone really interested? Does anyone even read my posts? Am I yelling into a vortex that this is how I spend my Friday nights, Netflix and pizza? And will anyone “like” this post?

The last two things I posted on Facebook got exactly ZERO likes. For having 762 “friends,” that was surprising. I rarely get zero likes. For some reason, that really bothered me. I wondered why no one was liking my posts. They weren’t terrible; it’s not like I was posting pro-Donald Trump messages or advocating for the NRA. One of my posts was a link to an article on friendship, and another was a quote from one of my favorite movies. When no one liked them, I felt invisible. I’ve always told myself, “Who gives a shit about Facebook?” and pretended like I was holier than thou, but then, I found out that clearly I care.

The thought of having these “zero” likes would float to my head every once in awhile this past week. I wondered why the quote I posted didn’t resonate with anyone. Or why no one could relate to the article I posted about friendship in adulthood.

But then. Tonight, as I posted my Aziz Ansari TV show plug, Facebook asked me if I wanted to keep my privacy settings for posting as “Only Me.” I sat there, looking at my computer screen, feeling like a dummy. Because I had inadvertently made my last posts completely private, so that only I could see them.

As I sat there, I realized just how much I let Facebook affect my self-esteem. The whole time, I thought the “world” was ignoring me. And yet, it was my administrative mess-up.

So for awhile, without me realizing it, my only audience was myself. But as corny as it may sound, there’s something kind of beautiful about that.In the same way when you feel most isolated (after a break-up or a friendship ending), you learn to dive a little deeper into your own reserves and find you’re stronger than you think.  You become your own rock, not because you want to, but because you’re forced to.

What did I learn from all this? That at the end of the day, we are our own most important audience.

Let’s impress ourselves.

Income Gaps Between Friends

Do you ever notice income disparities between you and your friends? Whether a friend suggests dining at a restaurant you can’t afford or a take a trip that’s out of your budget, is there some time your friendship has been affected by income? Personally, I’ve definitely felt weird about certain things but for the most part, my friends are generous and understanding. But I do feel as though I’m limited in terms of activities and trips I can suggest.

There’s a wonderful article in the International Business Times called Millenials And The Wealth Gap: What To Do When Your Friends Are Richer Than You, that’s fascinating. Here’s a crazy factoid from the article:

Wealth inequality among millennials is more pronounced than in any other American generation. Engineering majors fresh out of college command lavish Silicon Valley salaries designing apps that feature “content” written by their poorly paid peers who studied literature. Graduates of law and business schools walk into six-figure incomes while friends struggle to make their way in nonprofit or government jobs.

Here’s another crazy one:

One-third of Americans who earn over $500,000 a year are under the age of 35, according to market research firm FutureCast. They exist in an income bracket dominated by lawyers, executives, engineers and entrepreneurs.

Jeez. That was pretty startling to me, but I guess it makes sense when you think about it. I tend to think of the age of 35 as still being somewhat fresh in one’s career, but I’m a writer, and our paths are quite different from lawyers, engineers and entrepreneurs.

What’s most interesting to me is this section of the article, when they describe a woman (Belk) who is choosing an artistic career path (writing).

Now that Belk lives on her own, she gravitates toward people who share her beliefs about money. Many of her co-workers have become close friends. Like Belk, they spend their free time focusing on artistic pursuits. Most of them do not picture a house or kids in their future.

“In a way, it’s freeing because I’ve found people taking a similar financial path to me,” Belk says. “When you have money, it’s hard to comprehend the reality of living with financial constraints or that a person may be happy not making as much. This is a lifestyle choice.”

What I find fascinating is this idea that sometimes income gaps may actually reflect lifestyle choices, and not how hardworking or talented we are. Maybe our new friends that we make as adults will tend to make the same amount of money we do. And perhaps, income gaps may more often than not affect our oldest friendships, when we didn’t yet know who/what we would become.

Evolving Friendships in Our 30s

How have your friendships changed in your 30s? Because I’m certain they have. I’m sure lots of your friends have settled down, gotten married and had children. Many of mine have. Or, maybe your friends aren’t married but they’re spending most of their time with their serious significant other. Which means they don’t have as much time for friends. Friends are compartmentalized in a different way. And look, I get it. That was me. For six years, I wanted to be with my boyfriend most of the time. I relished our nights of take-out and Netflix, and while I did see friends, I didn’t make as much of an effort to make new friends when I moved to LA – because I already had a close confidante to spend most nights with.

And that plan worked. Until it didn’t work anymore. Because we broke up. And I realized that I was alone in a city where I didn’t have a strong enough support system to sustain me. I am lucky because I did go to graduate school here, and did make a few wonderful friends (thank you!), but the geography of the city, me not being a driver, and the newness of my friendships has made it challenging. I don’t want to burden my new friends with my depression and heartache. In fact, most of the people I talk regularly are from home…NYC. Be it via phone, text or on g-chat. I don’t know if that’s entirely healthy, but it works. Friends are friends, right?

I’m kind of obsessed with friendship (being an only child and all) and this recent article in The Atlantic resonated with me, How Friendships Change In Adulthood. The article is fascinating and worth the read. Here are some fun factoids I took away from the read:

There are three main expectations of a close friend that most of us have:

  • Somebody to talk to
  • Someone to depend on
  • Someone to enjoy

The author writes that by middle age, we have three different types of friendships.

These friendships fall into three categories: active, dormant, and commemorative. Friendships are active if you are in touch regularly, you could call on them for emotional support and it wouldn’t be weird, if you pretty much know what’s going on with their lives at this moment. A dormant friendship has history, maybe you haven’t talked in a while, but you still think of that person as a friend. You’d be happy to hear from them and if you were in their city, you’d definitely meet up. A commemorative friend is not someone you expect to hear from, or see, maybe ever again. But they were important to you at an earlier time in your life, and you think of them fondly for that reason, and still consider them a friend.

-Julie Beck

It’s an interesting way to characterize friendships. Do you feel these are accurate buckets for friendships? I think there’s a lot of overlap between active and dormant friendships.

Personally, I know I need to work to gain more active friendships. A lot of that is on me.  I get nervous initiating plans, and over-think asking someone to hang out. But it’s something I’m aware of and can work on.

How do you feel your friendships have changed in your 30s?

Nancy Meyers and Thirtysomethings

I’ve been reading a few interviews with the female film director Nancy Meyers lately, mainly because her new film, The Intern with Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway, has been getting a lot of publicity. She has some very interesting thoughts on being a thirtysomething in today’s world.

If you’ve seen a Nancy Meyers movie (Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated, The Intern, to name a few), chances are you’ve drooled over the lush interiors of her characters’ homes. They’re always so cozy, well-appointed, and warmly lit, that you just want to plop down on one of those beautiful couches with a glass of wine and a thick novel. See below. I mean, WHO wouldn’t want to live in these worlds?

54c95203c6169_-_nancy-meyers-movies-interiors_04 54c95202eac04_-_nancy-meyers-movies-interiors_02

I aspire to get to a point in my financial life where I can live in a home and environment like these when I’m in my 60s. Apparently, there’s a lot of young women in their 20s and 30s who feel the same way. So much so that a group of women recently had a Nancy Meyers themed bachelorette party – complete with turtlenecks, glasses and roast chicken. In a recent NY Magazine article, Meyers talked about that bachelorette party and why she thinks her work resonates with younger women in our generation:

I think it’s because they see a really super-functioning, confident woman who’s made a life for herself, who bought herself this house. And they’re all starting their careers, and I think they must look ahead and say, “Yeah, I like that for my future.” And she’s a divorced woman, but she’s not an unhappy divorced woman. The women in my movies are not seeking romance. It happens when they’re not looking for it.

I really liked that quote, especially that last part. Romance seems to be a by-product of going after and living the life you want. In the article, Meyers also had some interesting thoughts about thirtysomething men in this day and age. She was talking about the difference between Robert DeNiro’s character in The Intern, a 70-somethign year old man who goes back to intern for Anne Hathaway’s company, and millennial men today. She says:

Well, the difference between this man and the millennials. I’ve seen it in my own life. I see guys in their mid-30s with their little boys, and they’re wearing the exact same outfit. They’ll wear like the same T-shirt, same kind of shorts, same sneakers, and I just remember when men didn’t dress like their 4-year-olds.

When my kids were growing up, they had Take Your Daughter to Work Day. It didn’t cross my mind that there was no Take Your Son to Work Day, because it was expected the men will grow up and go to work. I think my generation, brought up by Oprah Winfrey, really got behind girls in a great way, and I think the boys … the line in the movie is “Well, maybe they didn’t get left behind, but you know, there’s definitely some kind of gap.” I’m not talking about all men, of course. But I don’t think the Peter Pan quality is something women want in their men, that’s for sure.

What do you think? I definitely have noticed that a lot of men have that Peter Pan quality. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, but I do agree with Meyers in that many women don’t want that in their men. I haven’t seen The Intern yet, but I hope to check it out this weekend.

The more interviews I read with Meyers, the more she’s becoming my role model in this industry.

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