Rebooting Old Friendships

As an only child, I’ve been fascinated by friendship since pre-school, when I had the opportunity to make my very first real friend.  Whose name I don’t remember…oops!

On my birthday two weeks ago, an old college friend who I haven’t spoken to in maybe 5 years reached out to me. There was never a falling-out between us. Rather, she mysteriously disappeared. She stopping returned emails, texts, calls and just vanished. A group of her friends from med school and I tried to figure out what was going on, but we couldn’t track her down. Because we knew she had disappeared on other people at an earlier stage in her life, and that there had been recent drama in her life, we didn’t think she was kidnapped or anything crazy like that. We knew she must have chosen to leave of her own volition. Also, one friend heard from her and passed along the information that she was safe but not looking to be contacted.

Back to my birthday. I got an email from this old friend who disappeared. It was a very simple message – she wished me a happy birthday and apologized for missing so much of my live/events in my life, etc. and asked if I’d be willing to open up a friendship again. She didn’t mention why she disappeared or what happened.

While some people might have been hurt to have been left by a friend, I was excited to hear from her. She was someone who I didn’t depend on completely for emotional support, and I something I loved about her was her independence and free spirited nature. While we never had that much in common, I always enjoyed spending time with her and loved her intellect and passion for life. She inspired me because she gave 100% to everything she did – becoming a neurosurgeon, going to residency, and then deciding to quit it all to write. She’s now got a book published. It’s pretty amazing. She’s already accomplished so many big deal things in her life.

We’ve been emailing back and forth a few times, but we haven’t gotten to meaty subjects yet, though I’m sure that is coming in time.

I read an article this week about how to deal with re-building these sorts of friendships – ones that disappear and then re-emerge: A Psychologist Explains How to Revive a Dead Friendship.

The most important take-away from the article for me was this: when re-building an old friendship, you need to be willing to see that person with a completely fresh set of eyes. Easier said than done, but I think it’s the only way to have an authentically honest new friendship.

It’s like if an artist were to paint another painting on top of an already used canvas. Like, when art historians discover than underneath a Picasso was an older Picasso painting he painted years prior.

I’m not sure what will happen with my new/old friend, especially because we don’t live in the same city, but I’m curious to find out.

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A Small Change I Made In My 30s That’s Been Awesome

A little over three years ago, I moved from NYC to LA. And it’s not an overstatement to say that it was the biggest adjustment of my life. I strongly disliked LA for at least a year, mildly disliked it for another year, and finally started to really dig it in my third year. Now, I’m pretty in love with this city of Angels. It’s warm, there are lots of open spaces, people here love their dogs so much, and the pace of life is slower than New York.

But when I left New York, I remember feeling heartbroken at leaving my mom and my friends, friends who I had known since as early as elementary school. So, when I was having my final hangouts with friends, I remember we all felt very emotional.

A shift happened when I was leaving. I decided to start telling my friend in earnest, “I love you.” Not the quick, “Love ya!” when you’re hanging up the phone or “xoxo” in an email, but the real deal, looking them in the eyes and saying “I love you.” Making everything slow down for a brief moment. It made me kind of nervous to say it to friends, because I got afraid they wouldn’t reciprocate or that I’d look like a crazy person. But it was reciprocated and it felt really good.

There’s something very special about genuinely acknowledging the love between friends, especially as we get older. And we should all remind ourselves that it’s a honor to have friends to say it to.

Hope you are all enjoying your holidays, and telling those you love, that you love them.

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One Valuable Lesson of My 30s

In my thirties, I’ve come to greatly appreciate my interaction with strangers. When I say ‘strangers,’ I mean people you meet out in your community, in your daily life – at the grocery store for instance, or on the bus or train.

I think we sometimes discount these moments as just part of the fabric and niceties of life, but I’ve come to discover these interactions can affect one’s day in a big way.

Thirty seconds or a minute of interaction between strangers can be day-altering. You can feel appreciated and ‘seen’ by people you’ve never met before. That’s powerful and has the ability to change the course and mood of someone’s day.

I did a comedy show last week, and while it wasn’t a disaster, it also wasn’t the best I could do. Right after I had begun my set, the mic fell out of the cord connecting it to power, and for a few seconds, my voice went from crisp and loud to inaudible. I started making corny jokes that no one could hear and looked like a crazy woman mumbling to herself. The host had to come on stage during my set and fix the situation. But I was off my game at that point. I kept on going, but I had lost some of my initial momentum.

I walked off the stage and into the crowd feeling disappointed in my performance. I spent the rest of the show watching the other comics, but beating myself up internally. I thought about possibly giving up on stand-up. Maybe this wasn’t a medium for me.

When the night was over, a man came up to me to talk about the show. He told me that I was one of his favorites because I seemed so real and authentic, that I wasn’t putting on a persona. He seemed genuine and thoughtful. He told me to keep going with this whole stand-up thing.

That minute of interaction with the man pushed me to continue on with stand-up. So for one minute of stranger interaction, I will end up spending hours and hours continuing to pursue stand-up.

This article by Elizabeth Crisci speaks to the benefits of talking to strangers quite beautifully. I love what she wrote below:

Giving the gift of our attention to people that we know, and those we don’t, is not only generous, it empowers us as well as the person we are talking with.

 

Happy Mothers Day!

First off, I want to say Happy Mothers Day to my amazing, beautiful mother! I love you so much!

Second of all, I want to acknowledge and give a shout out to all the mothers out there who are working hard to raise healthy, happy children. I know it’s a lot of work and can be more than a full time job.

In my thirties, I see more of my friends than ever becoming mothers. My Facebook page is in baby boom mode- it’s as if suddenly at least half of everyone I know is pregnant or raising a baby right now. Luckily, I’ve felt my tolerance towards and even love of baby photos on Facebook increase ten-fold from when I was in my twenties, so it’s good timing.

I’m just coming from visiting a friend of mine in North Carolina, where I was staying with her and her two and a half year old. I knew her way before she got pregnant and followed her journey through that and have watched her baby grow into an adorable, amazing toddler. I know how much her life has changed as a result of having a child. So many things have changed from the simple…
-We have to make sure restaurants are kid friendly if we take her child with us (booster seats, other parents who understand, easy to eat food.)
-Pushing a stroller can be an uphill battle (literally).
-Car seats take up lots of space
– Nap time in the house is quiet time for all of us (or else)
-Early bed times
-Early wake up times
-Way less alcohol

And then the complex:
-I asked her if she was going to visit New York this summer and it just made no sense and was to hard to visit with a two year old- even though she loves New York and used to always visit.
-She wants a house with a back yard and lots of space for her child- city living doesn’t work for her anymore.
-Her entire daytime routine is extremely structured in order to give her toddler specific structure (early wake up, grandma comes over, nap time, play time, early bedtime, etc).
-Kids need to be watched at almost all times. It can be a 24 hour job.

I give mothers everywhere extreme kudos for all the work they do and totally understand that being a mother is a full-time job that’s a lot of hard work with no pay (not in dollars, anyway). You lovely ladies deserve lots of love and kudos!

One last side note for all the amazing ladies reading this who’ve chosen not to have kids- your choice is so absolutely valid and I completely support that too! I have many friends who’ve made this choice and I fully support them. Not everyone wants kids, and that’s beyond okay! Have a great day anyway 🙂

I love you!

I love you!

What Are You Waiting For In Your Thirties?

Sorry for the long post delay. I feel like I’ve waited way too long- which is the theme of this post.

Do you ever feel like you’re waiting around for that day when your life will get much better? For that moment you are finally in the shape of your life? For the year you can quit your job and retire? For that future time period when you can travel the world? And then you can be happy?

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Sometimes I catch myself waiting in this way. But what I’ve learned this year is that it’s almost impossible to be happy later if you can’t be happy now. I feel like I’ve spent a lot of my life worrying- it’s my go to habit. I can feel myself clenching up sometimes, preparing for the worst. I guess I’ve always felt like somehow my anxiety helps me to get things done.

However, lately, when I focus on manually taking down my anxiety levels and allowing myself to be happy now, I still get things done. I don’t fall into a valley of hedonism like I’ve been afraid of doing. Nothing falls apart because- god forbid- I haven’t worried about it today. My anxiety hasn’t seemed to be necessary to have a productive day.

This lack-of-waiting-to- be-happy mentality brought up thoughts of another trip with Jane. We haven’t taken a trip together just for fun in over seven years. Last time we went to Austin, so this time we picked the equally bizarre city of Portland, and it was wonderful.

At first it felt weird planning a trip purely for fun, but why wait?And why not? We just got back yesterday night, and we were so happy we’d made the leap, took the trip, and didn’t wait for some ‘better time’ in the future.

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First night in Portland!

You are allowed to enjoy life right now. Choose happiness right this moment. Of course you will feel sad and anxious sometimes, and that’s absolutely okay and actually good and normal. But anxiety doesn’t need to be the status quo. You can feel all the feels. But you don’t have to stay miserable..or anxiously await a better time.The future is uncertain. Choose to be happy now. What are you waiting for?

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Blue Star Donuts!

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Voodoo!

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Portland Love!

Togetherness and Continuing to Find Yourself In Your Thirties

One of my favorite new HBO shows, Togetherness, just got cancelled a few weeks ago. It’s a darn tragedy, because the show was brilliant and touching and all about the thirties.

Togetherness features four thirty-somethings all in unique places in their romantic and career lives. Two of them are a married couple with a house and kids. The other two are single, with one’s career (as an actor) taking off and the other’s (as the bringer of blow up castles to parties (really) ) stalling.

Throughout the two season series, the marriage of the main couple shows some slow-building cracks and begins to fall apart. The husband quits his job as a sound designer for movies and starts driving an Uber. The wife adds a volunteer job of starting a charter school to her stay-at-home-mom life and finds some happiness and power in doing that. Hook ups happen, cheating happens, drugs happen,  moments of intense clarity happen, kick the can in the park happens, characters grow into new jobs, characters find new parts of themselves, characters find new friends, characters fight, characters crash on couches, characters crash cars. Basically, a lot of the tumult and highs and lows and crazy and silly of the twenties happens here… in a more…grown up way? It’s hard to explain it except that I recognize it, and it’s amazing how this show has managed to capture it. Characters have already grown into themselves, but they’re growing into themselves again and again and again in their thirties.

What this show captures is what Jane and I have been trying to figure out here on this blog, but haven’t ever completely been able to pin down: that feeling of starting to know who you are and then using that knowledge to go with the new version of yourself that’s already begun to develop and will develop differently again and again. There’s a fluidity to a thirty-something that grows out of a solid foundation already built earlier. Meaning: you’ve already found a lot of yourself during or right before your thirties, but that self changes and grows and shifts and then is found over and over again. The thirties are about recognizing, from the self that you’ve already found, the changes that are happening to you. A thriving thirties decade is also about being able to communicate those changes with both yourself and with others. Also it’s about recognizing that you can’t compare your life with the lives of your friends and relatives- some people will have their careers laid out, some people will be switching around. Some people will have kids, some will stay single, some will get divorced. Your road is your own.

What makes the characters in Togetherness amazing is their ability to communicate with each other (eventually) throughout the series. Sometimes it takes a complete breakdown in communication, but the ‘togetherness’ of Togetherness stems from each fiercely independent character equally fiercely wanting to reach out to one another. The early marriage breakdown in the show stemmed from very slow communication breakdowns- nothing huge or obvious, just slow cracks. The show begins with shedding light on the cracks, which have to be revealed in order to be repaired. I feel like a lot of finding yourself in your thirties is about shedding light on slow cracks that have built up, tending to them, and rebuilding again and again.

Hopefully, there will be other shows this good at capturing the thirties decade. Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen Togetherness, what are you waiting for? Go watch it and enjoy!

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Are You Dating Someone You’re Simply Tolerating?

You know that excited feeling when you’re doing something you really want to do and you’re doing it really well?

Maybe you’re totally in the zone at work. Or you’re giving a speech and people are laughing, hollering and applauding. Or you’re working on an artistic project and your creative juices are absolutely flowing. Or you’re about to see your best friend and have a blast and you’re just like ‘hell yeah!’

That feeling of ‘hell yeah!’ is one of the best feelings ever! Things just feel so right. Wouldn’t it be amazing to surround yourself only with people that give you that feeling?

When you’re with people who give you that kind of excited buzz inside, time seems to fly by and even a cup of coffee together can become an adventure. I have lots of people like that in my life who I’m absolutely thrilled to hang out with- and I’m honored to call them my friends and family.

However, in the dating and relationship world, all of this excited buzz can sometimes become an anxiety-filled drone. The rules of the exciting buzz in the friendship world seem to warp in the dating and relationship world; It’s a funny gray area where the following stressful thoughts may become commonplace:

  • How come she didn’t text me for three days?
  • What does he mean when he says he’s scared of a relationship?
  • Why is he acting moody no matter what I do? Has he stopped liking me?
  • Why is she acting distant and cold for weeks?
  • Why are his texts so short and he asks me no questions about myself?
  • How come he was nice to me yesterday but seems to be ignoring me today?

Today, Jane forwarded me a HuffPo article called “What It Really Means When A Guy Says He’s Scared.” The gist of the article is that when a guy says he’s scared of dating you or having a relationship, it’s actually total BS. I already knew this fact, but it’s a good reminder. The HuffPo article was basically a one page version of the book “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Basically, the author says that only one out of ten guys saying something like “I’m scared of dating you/being in a relationship with you/marrying you” really means it (and you don’t actually want that one guy who really means it anyway- I’ll explain why in a second).

Okay, it’s been a second. Basically, the article references something I’ve written about before on this blog, but my post was over a year ago, so I feel the message (since it’s extremely important and useful) needs repeating. Here’s the message, in so many words:

If something is not a “fuck yes!” then it’s a no. 

That’s it. This is a mantra for most of life, but it’s especially true in relationships.

Mark Manson explains it best in his brilliant article, aptly titled “Fuck Yes or No.” Here’s the law of fuck yes or no, succinctly written by Manson:

The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, they must inspire you to say “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.

The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” also states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, THEY must respond with a “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.

That’s it. It’s simple. Live this law, and your dating/relationship life will get so much brighter.

So if someone hasn’t been texting you back for days, then they aren’t saying ‘fuck yes’ to you, so it’s a no. Simple. Move on.

If someone has been awesome to you on dates but then disappears until you stalk them down, it doesn’t seem like they’re saying ‘fuck yes’ to you. So say ‘fuck no’ to them. And move on.

If you’re constantly feeling anxious and stressed around a person you’ve been seeing, you’re not feeling ‘fuck yes’ around them. Cut ties. Go forward.

Most dating advice out there exists to fix a gray area: “what exactly can I say to make her like me?” “What should I wear to make him want me?” “How do I ‘play the game’ to make him call?” “What can I do to make him text more?”

But what if it’s simpler than that? If you’re uncertain for quite awhile, it’s a gray area, and therefore not a ‘fuck yes.’ Don’t you want to date someone who you know is saying “fuck yes!” to being with you? Don’t you want to have that wonderful buzz of “fuck yes!” when dating someone? Imagine NOT having to sit in that damn gray area where you’re trying to CONVINCE someone to say say ‘fuck yes’ to you! Or, possibly even worse, trying to convince yourself to say ‘fuck yes’ to someone who just doesn’t do it for you.

Here are some of the benefits of the fuck yes or no dating style, once again in the genius words of Mark Manson:

  1. “No longer be strung along by people who aren’t that into you. End all of the headaches. End the wishing and hoping. End the disappoint and anger that inevitably follows. Start practicing self-respect. Become the rejector, not the rejected.
  2. No longer pursue people you are so-so on for ego purposes. We’ve all been there. We were so-so about somebody, but we went along with it because nothing better was around. And we all have a few we’d like to take back. No more.
  3. Consent issues are instantly resolved. If someone is playing games with you, playing hard to get, or pressuring you into doing something you’re unsure about, your answer is now easy. Or as I often like to say in regards to dating, “If you have to ask, then that’s your answer.”
  4. Establish strong personal boundaries and enforce them. Maintaining strong boundaries not only makes one more confident and attractive, but also helps to preserve one’s sanity in the long-run.
  5. Always know where you stand with the other person. Since you’re now freeing up so much time and energy from people you’re not that into, and people who are not that into you, you now find yourself perpetually in interactions where people’s intentions are clear and enthusiastic. Sweet!”

Adopt this mentality, and reap the benefits of lots of ‘fuck yes’ time spent with exciting things and people who actually bring you joy!

Is Your Phone Ruining Your Friendships?

When you’re out with your friends, do you use your cell phone? Is it sitting on the table as you have your monthly catch-up dinner? Well, I used to be very cognizant of not using my phone around my friends, but I’ve noticed that in the last year, I’ve gotten worse. I’ve actually texted while having a conversation with someone (without having to look down at my phone), and texted during my graduate level classes while discreetly holding the phone under the table. I feel embarrassed even writing that, because I pride myself on giving all of my attention to anyone I’m talking to and really being present during school lectures.

This opinion piece in the NY Times is a beautifully written wake-up call to all of us; Stop Googling. Let’s Talk. The author, MIT Professor Sherry Turkle makes the case that it’s time for us to start connecting with others in a face-to-face way and to be okay with solitude sans our digital devices. It’s a beautifully written article and worth a read.

She brings up some fascinating statistics about phone usage and connection. This one in particular blew me away:

Studies of conversation both in the laboratory and in natural settings show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel. People keep the conversation on topics where they won’t mind being interrupted. They don’t feel as invested in each other. Even a silent phone disconnects us.

-Sherry Turkle

I thought that was fascinating! That even just having a phone in the vicinity of your interaction with a friend can affect the depth of that conversation. It sure does for me. For example, I have a close friend who lives out of town, and I go to dinner with her when she’s in town for a film shoot (she’s a producer) and because of the nature of her job, she’s always got to have her phone on the table. Invariably, at least once during a meal together, she stops to check her email, reply to someone, and then reply to another text that’s come through during dinner. Now look, I’m not complaining, because I relish any time I spend with her,  however little or distracted it may be,  but I miss the days when we were totally focused on each other, diving deep into  funny, odd and more vulnerable conversation territory.

Attention is one of the biggest gifts you can give to your loved ones. And, at the end of the day, we can’t forget that we’re animals – we connect via our eyes and body language. We need to keep that an integral part of our “connecting”  to other people.

Turkle’s suggestion to us all was simple and optimistic:

It is not about giving up our phones but about using them with greater intention. Conversation is there for us to reclaim. For the failing connections of our digital world, it is the talking cure.

So let’s reclaim conversation. With friends. Family. Strangers.

I’ve made a pact with myself to put away my phone when talking to my friends. What will you do?

Have You Ever Experienced A BFF Break-Up?

Losing a friendship can feel as traumatic as the breakup between a loving, long-term couple. Sometimes it’s almost more devastating, because we expect our best friendships to stand the test of time. We’re taught that romantic relationships come and go, but that our friendships last, especially friendships between women.

In my twenties, I went through a few close friend breakups. At the time, I couldn’t understand why, and that made me feel ashamed. I thought to myself – am I a fundamentally flawed human being who’s incapable of sustaining friendships? Am I an awful person who people don’t want to be friends with? Am I too selfish, flakey, etc.? Over time, I came to realize it’s actually quite normal to lose friends, especially when you’re in your twenties.

I had a falling out with one very close friend in particular that devastated me. We met in junior high school and stayed friends until our early 20s. She was a soul mate level friend, the kind of friend that comes around a few times in your life. Everyone else could see it, how close we were – we spoke the same language without speaking. I loved how smart and funny she was. She thought about deep things in the world – why we were here on the planet, what kinds of people we wanted to be, our deepest fears, and all those sorts of things.

Long story short, we fought and we didn’t recover. In hindsight, I would fight harder for the friendship. At the time, I was scared of her, of hurting her more than I already had, and since I’m a non-confrontational person generally, I tried to repair the friendship in small ways. But, looking back, I realize I didn’t try hard enough.

I can honestly say it’s taken me years to get over it, and I still don’t think I am fully over it. I hadn’t thought about being in touch with her again until last week, when almost a decade later, I got an email from her. I was so excited/scared/hopeful/nervous that it took me several days to even OPEN the email. When I did, I immediately started bawling my eyes out. I could hear her voice through the email and  I was flooded with memories. It wasn’t an angry or ‘bad’ email; I cried because I missed her and I didn’t realize how profoundly I did until I read the email.

I’m not sure what’s next for us. I wonder if there’s any way for us to get that friendship back. There are so many barriers to even getting back a new ‘starter’ friendship. We don’t even live in the same city anymore. We both lead very different lives.

Have you ever experienced a best friend breakup? Did you ever reconnect with that friend?

PS – For anyone interested in exploring the phenomenon of friendships ending and how to deal, check out Dr. Irene Levine’s The Friendship Blog. It’s a great resource for all things friendship.

There Were 10, now 6, then 3…Friendship in Your 30s

Today, I got to thinking about the “oldest” friends we all have, and friendships in general after my fiancé told me about his fantasy football league. Let me explain. Basically, the leader/organizer person (I know nothing about fantasy football) had decided to shut down their decade long running league because he was having a child and had too much responsibility. My fiancé, understandably, was sad. These were tons of his old college buddies who were spread across the country, and this online game was a way to connect to them. Even though I have no ties to the team and have no clue how one would even play ‘fantasy football,’ it made me sad to hear about a group dissolving. I always feel sad when a group of mine dis-integrates – from a book club ending to summer pot lucks winding down when the season ends….

I started thinking about how in our 30s, our close friend group gets smaller and smaller, until we realize someday that we’ve ended up with a circle much smaller than in our 20s. There are the obvious reasons for that: getting married and settling down, having children, job responsibilities, etc. But I believe we all need lots of different types of love in our life – and a few people cannot sustain or fulfill all those needs. All of our primary, most supportive relationships must have buoys and support around them. In the same way it’s been said that “it takes a village’ to raise children, it takes a group of people to sustain our deepest relationships. Your marriage or closest friendship gets oxygen from mutual friends, from family visits, and from the outside interaction you get at places like work.

I speak to a lot less friends than I did when I was 25. About half less I would say. The bright side is that I feel the quality of these remaining friendships has improved. They’ve been through the ups and downs with me. The past July 4th weekend, I got to have long conversations with old high school and even (gasp!) elementary school, and it made me incredibly happy and left me feeling physically lighter. Our friends can help us carry our loads.

So what do we do with less friendships in our 30s? Obviously, we hold onto the ones we love with a vice grip! But we must always be open to new friendships, coming at any age. Your next ‘soul mate’ friend could be just around the corner. Sometimes I feel like we’ve been taught that we would have met all our best friends in the world by now. But maybe that’s only encouraging us to keep ourself guarded. Instead, maybe we should always keep out heart opens to new friends – even with the new responsibilities the thirties place on us.

The Happiness Boost in Your Mid-Thirties

This is complete conjecture on my part, but I have a feeling that when you enter your mid-thirties, you start to experience a subtle but profound happiness boost. Yes, maybe this is wishful thinking on my part (I’m 33), but my hunch is that it’s more than just wishful thinking. There must be more than just a biological reason that a woman’s sexual prime is in her mid-30s (in full disclosure: this long-held belief about women’s sexual prime has been debated. Some experts point it at 26, others at the early 30s).

My feeling is that as we gain confidence, security and happiness – our sexual energy levels are boosted. But what is it about the mid-thirties that gives us that happy boost? First, let’s define “mid-thirties.” From what I’ve read online, most folks define mid-thirties as between 33-37. During these four years, a lot of your hard work – be it in your career, relationships or self-growth, begins to pay off. You see the fruits of your labor.

I found this amazing blog post at MakeYourOwnDamnDinner.com that I loved! It’s called 10 Reasons Being In Your Mid-Thirties Is Fabulous. You’ve got it give it a read and hear what she has to say. My favorite reason the mid-thirties are fabulous is “The Cycle of Friendship.” She writes:

Number 8 – The Cycle of Friendship:
By 35 you’ve cycled through most of your major life milestones with your friends. Graduation, college, marriage, having kids, and maybe even a divorce. By now you know which friends are in it for the long haul and which friends are not. You realize you don’t need 294 friends…you only the core few who have stuck with you through thick and thin.

– Marie of MakeYourOwnDamnDinner.com

She also references a great quote by Wally Lamb, “Being in your mid-thirties brought benefits, I reminded myself. You begin to appreciate tidiness, smallness, things in their place. This is the shape your life has taken.”

I disagreed with one reason – that you may be done with having kids. But, as the author said herself, this reason may not be true for everyone. I imagine I’ll have kids around 36 (fingers crossed), so I won’t be done by then.

To add my own reasons to list:

  • You don’t spend as much time (if any!) with toxic people who bring you down.
  • You have a clearer sense of what makes you happy in life and you don’t spend time on things that don’t.
  • You have your own home and sense of family (even if it means a group of friends)

What would you add to the list?

It hurts. So what?

A couple of weeks ago, I was extremely afraid. I wanted to speak up, but it felt much easier to stay silent. Or rather, I needed to speak up but was afraid of the response. There was an 95 percent chance that things wouldn’t end well.

Okay, I exaggerate. I’m not saying that I would die or get physically injured or even be screamed at, but I likely wouldn’t get the response I desired. I’m talking about the likelihood of a very high rejection rate.

I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t say what I wanted to say. I knew I’d feel even worse if I stayed silent. But I was scared. The pain I’d feel if rejected felt very real.

So I vented to Jane about how I felt safer staying quiet because I didn’t want to bring almost certain pain into my life. Even though I knew what I needed to do, it sucked that I could predict the future pain from doing it. And it was then that she said to me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard in my adult life.

She said “yeah, it’s going to probably  hurt. It’ll probably hurt very bad. But okay. So what?”

So what??

The revelation feels groundbreaking. Things may hurt, very badly even, but so what? So what?

Can you live with the pain of things hurting? Yes. And when you can live with that pain and be brave in the face of it, the world opens up.

Suddenly, suddenly everything is doable. Even the most immense impending hurt can’t stop you. It can bring you to your knees and it can make you cry. For awhile even.

But so what?

I ended up saying what I needed to say, and I was extremely relieved I did. And the hurt still came on strong. The rejection felt intense and stung with pain.

But so what? So what??

I’m still here. And I’m okay.

Portrait of a Thirty-Something: Janna Davis

We’re extremely excited to share our fourth featured Portrait of A Thirtysomething with you: Here’s the fantastic Janna Davis!

Janna’s a Corporate Presenter like me, and I get to work with her all the time! I’m so lucky! 🙂 Jane and I have been looking forward to sharing Janna’s interview with you for awhile, as Janna’s extremely open and very articulate regarding the challenges of both the 20s and 30s. My favorite part is Janna’s musings about still not exactly knowing what she wants to be when she grows up.

If you’d like to be a part of Portrait of a Thirtysomething, please let us know! Just shoot us an email at omgimthirty@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Without further ado, here’s Janna!

Name/Age/Location:  Janna Davis/33/Astoria, NY

Occupation: Dancer/Actor/Model/Corporate Presenter
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Janna Davis- photo courtesy of Abigail Classey at Tea for Two Photography 

What’s the accomplishment you’re most proud of in your 30s so far?  

 At 30, I had recently moved to Los Angeles, where I had wanted to live since I was a child, and was finally getting settled in my career, finances, social life, faith and living situation.  A friend set me up with my now-husband, who happened to live in NY, a place that scared me and that I despised from everything I knew of it.  After a month of saying no, I finally allowed myself to step out of my comfort zone and entertain the idea of a long-distance relationship, something I said I’d never do.  A year of back and forth travel and an engagement later, I moved to NYC- something I said I’d never do- to be with a boy, also something I said I’d never do.  Two years of marriage, a roller coaster ride of a move across the country and countless hours of hard work to re-establish all of the things I would have sworn I would never walk away from to have to start from the ground up was a doozie to say the least.  Yet, here I am and all of that hard work is what I’m most proud of.  Of course, what I am most proud of was something that was initially largely out of my control.  However, I’m proud that I wasn’t so stubborn to close the door on a relationship that has been -and God-willing will continue to be- so fruitful because I felt like I had to hold onto my present situation.  In my 20’s, I don’t think I would have had the courage and faith to trust that everything would have worked out better than I could have even hoped for.
 
What do you NOT miss about your 20s? 
 
I do not miss having low self-esteem.  I struggled with body issues since I was a teenager and they were the worst when I was in my 20s and living as an adult for the first time.  While I was not fat, I was overweight to be a dancer (the career that I had trained for as a child and teenager) and I truly felt disgusting and unworthy of love.  While the eating disorders that get the most PR are anorexia and bulimia, the oft-neglected cousin is overeating, or bingeing and purging, just without throwing up.  Indeed low self-esteem can take on many forms.  Mine took the form of trying to be anorexic, “failing” when I got hungry, bingeing on a days worth of food, sometimes stolen from a roommate, and then starving myself until I got hungry again.  Luckily, with maturity, some education and prayer, I no longer suffer from low self-esteem and am happy to say that I have a healthy relationship with food.  (Although sometimes I like pizza a little too much for my own good.)
Looking back, what shouldn’t you haven’t been afraid of in your 20s? 
 

I shouldn’t have been afraid of being too old to do certain things.  I trained to be a professional dancer since I was young, and at 18 I auditioned for several ballet companies.  I did not immediately get accepted by any of the companies I auditioned for.  However, I took that to mean that I wasn’t good enough and that I wouldn’t ever be good enough.  I felt like dancers were retiring at 22 and by 18 you should have already “made it.”  This thought of being too old and not good enough carried into many aspects of my life. I would quit things before giving them much of a chance or before even starting because I thought I was too old.  Looking back, it’s actually pretty ridiculous.

Any surprises about what your 30s are like? 
 
I didn’t think that I would still struggle with a question I’ve been asked since I was a child: “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  I only thought about being a dancer when I was a child and later realized that I would have to go to college and pick a major.  I still had no idea what I wanted to do as a career.  After college I started to pursue acting but still always felt that maybe there was something else that I should be doing as a career.  In my 30’s I’m dancing again, pursuing acting, working in the trade show industry and running the trade show networking group United Trade Show Talent.  At one point I thought that maybe I should abandon anything performance related and I got my cosmetology license and worked in the beauty industry.  Sometimes I still wonder what I truly want to do, or maybe I’ve found it and just haven’t realized it.  It’s certainly not a question I thought I would be asked and still asking myself at 33.
 
What do you find most challenging about this decade? 
 
It’s so trite to say, but I find it extremely hard to have balance.  As a 30-something, you’re supposed to have it all.  An established career, a house (or a nice apt if you’re in NYC like me), a significant other, time for new friends and old, time for family, and perhaps a family of your own.  I feel like I have less time than I’ve ever had and whenever I devote a good amount of time to one category, the others suffer, or I don’t have time to clean my own underwear.  I still fall asleep most nights on the couch and have to be woken up by my husband to take out my contacts, floss, and put in my mouthguard.  Life is hard (yet wonderful) and I only have my own life to take care of.
 
What are you most looking forward to? Be it tonight, next month or ten years from now.  
 
Once a week, I take a day off to celebrate “Shabbat” or the Sabbath-day of rest and get together with other like-minded individuals to thank God, sing His praises, and then later take a nap after eating Chinese food and watching The Breakfast Club.  I don’t think the second part of that is in the Bible, but it should be because it’s awesome.  I work hard during the week, so it’s necessary to be able to take a day off from all things work and realize that life still goes on.
 
What would you like to hear more about regarding the thirties. What articles would you like to read? 
 
I love learning about finance.  I feel like so many people in their 30’s already have a good grasp on finance-related issues and I’d love to start feeling like I’m confident to be able to start making wise investment choices.  Also, let’s face it, we’re not getting any younger and neither are our parents.  I’d love to be able to hear how people make time to spend with their families.  Finally, as people are choosing to have children later, I’d love to hear more about what makes 30 year olds decide to have children and their experiences after children.  

Read more about Janna below:

Janna Davis is originally from Virginia Beach, VA. After staging several full length ballets for her Barbies, it was decided that indeed, she wanted to dance.  She trained at the Governor’s School for the Arts and Academie de Ballet and at many summer programs including The Juilliard School.  She attended James Madison University and graduated double major in Theatre and Communication Sciences and Disorders.  She still had no idea what she wanted to do with her life.  So she waited tables all over the country, an experience that she does not regret as she will never take for granted the joys of eating out.  Once she embraced that she wanted to be a performer, she began dancing with ACFCLA and Keshet Chaim Dance in Los Angeles. She also danced and acted commercially and in film and television.  She is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA and continually training at The Sag Conservatory.  Outside of performing, she is a loving wife, a licensed cosmetologist, and has a side career as a trade show model in which she founded the networking group United Trade Show Talent.  She currently dances with Pink Pig Ballet and sings at her synagogue, Beth El of Manhattan.  She aims to share her experiences as a performer with others through writing and vlogging to use her powers for good.

More to come!  In the meantime, feel free to follow her adventures on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JannaIsGreen or Instagram: https://instagram.com/jannaisgreen/ or Facebook: www.facebook.com/Jannaisgreen

Do You Know About Dunbar’s Number?

I guess friendship has been on my mind lately, considering this is my third consecutive post about friendship. Perhaps it’s the realization that I still feel like an outsider in my new city after a year and a half.

A few years ago, I remember being fascinated by a concept called “Dunbar’s Number.” According to Robin Dunbar, a British Anthropologist, the average human brain can only effectively maintain a social relationship with approximately 150 people at a time. Basically, our brains just don’t have the cognitive capabilities to handle remembering all the details of more than 150 people at one time. According to research, this is evolutionary and has been true since the dawn of man. In hunter-gatherer societies, the average community was about 150 people.

Now this doesn’t mean these people are your actual ‘friends,’ they are simply people in your social circle. If you would stop to say hello to someone on the street, they probably count in your 150.

But what’s a bit scary, at least for me, is that a lot of my closest “150” are scattered around the country. They are not all in my community like they probably were for  those in hunter-gatherer societies. I don’t get the benefits or a reassuring hug or an arm squeeze. So essentially, the benefits of my ‘community’ are diffuse and not as concentrated as they could be.

What does this mean for us, as most of us become increasingly mobile in our lives? Are most of your “150” located near you?

Staying Friends in Your 30s

How do you maintain your friendships as life gets busier and busier in your 30s? Four hour boozy dinners and impromptu afternoons of lunch and wandering the city become near impossible when you’ve got work to finish, spouses to see and kids to take care of. While I don’t have kids yet, I definitely find myself strapped for time and not feeling as carefree about my time as I did in my 20s.

This article in NY Mag, The Secret to Staying Friends in Your 30s, was fascinating and awesome because the author, Ada Clahoun, basically makes the case for what she calls, “disjointed, casual and improvised” friendship. What she means by this is, instead of having long hangouts that are hard to schedule, have snippets of in-person friend bonding time whenever you can. In my own circle, I can point to the example of one of my friends who enjoys “errand running” with her other friend whenever he’s in town. When they met up a few days after Christmas this past year, they both went on a gift returning expedition. I love that! There’s a deep comfort in a friendship when you’re able to do errands together.

I love this part of the article:

Friendships these days require both recklessness and ingenuity — the willingness to try hard, but also to settle for scraps. So you see friends when and where you can: say, at a coffee shop around the corner from a drop-off birthday party while working side by side on laptops. “I only have friends who will go to CVS with me,” my best friend, Tara, once announced while we were making our way through Chelsea. I had picked her up at Penn Station (she lives in D.C.) and I was walking her to a meeting. We covered a lot of emotional territory as we marched downtown carrying heavy bags. “How much time do we have?” she will ask most days when we get on the phone. “Six blocks,” I will say. “Okay,” she’ll say. “Go.”

The way Tara and I have stayed close for something like 15 years is that long ago we lowered the bar, accepting that so-called quality time is for other people and that it is our lot instead to tell each other stories one bit of dialogue at a time in ten short phone calls spread out over a week.

When I first started reading this article, I thought “Eh, but it’s not the same as a three hour dinner!” but by the time I finished reading the article, I had changed my tune. I’d rather see my friends more frequently and become more a part of the fabric of their lives than only seeing them the rare times they both have 3-4 hours consecutively to spare.

Not only is the frequency nice, but there’s something very intimate about picking up dry cleaning or going grocery shopping with a friend. I wish I could do more of that, as corny as it sounds. I recently went with my friend to pick up her son at daycare just so we’d get the brief drive to the daycare place together to talk, and it was so wonderful. Aside from our chat, I got to see a whole new side to  her life that I really appreciated.

Here’s to weaving our friends into the fabric of our everyday lives!

I’m Easily Distant…Even Now

Now that I’m thirty, I feel more comfortable with myself than I’ve ever felt in the past.

I’m eerily familiar with that weird vocal quirk in my voice I’ve had since third grade that people occasionally remind me I still have.

I know exactly what I should eat for breakfast in the morning to keep me going for at least 3 hours and not make me groggy (right now it’s bananas and peanuts butter, and/or a green smoothie plus coffee. It used to be oatmeal). Boring, but necessary for me to know.

Vegetarianism is part of my soul. I can’t imagine eating meat ever again. For now, anyway.

I’ve gone almost platinum blonde kinda by accident since the summer (I suddenly decided to dye my hair myself for the first time, and after much trial error and purple hair it just kinda happened). And I love it. Right now, anyway 😉

When I feel good, I feel really, really good. Overall my life seems to get better and better as I get older- I’ve always felt that way. I’m very much still working at feeling my best more often (I know it’s all waves), and tracking down major life goals that can help me move forward. I really want to master the subtle art of Not Giving A Fuck about unimportant things, which we’ve talked about a lot on this blog….more than once.  However, one of the things I’m really always working on, especially now that I know myself better, is being able to tell others what I need and want…after figuring out what I need and want.

It’s very easy for me to let friends, family, and significant others take the lead and pull me down their path without much resistance from me. I’m very good at going with the flow (something I really know about myself)- and that combined with a dislike of confrontation, an intense empathy for other people’s feelings, and a deep curiosity for other people’s habits and points of view can occasionally leave me feeling swept up in lives that are not my own. I can let others sweep me so far into their lives that I don’t even realize how distant I suddenly feel from myself.

I don’t know if that makes sense exactly or if it feels familiar to any of you. Or if you’ve outgrown this now that you’re in your thirties. But sometimes I’m the polar opposite of the ideal cool and collected thirty-something who doesn’t give a fuck. I used to give so many fucks about what other people thought that my life became a guessing game and I thought I was the ultimate winner of knowing what people wanted. All I cared about was making my favorite people happy and figuring out how to play their game correctly.

I doing so, I would sometimes lose what exactly I wanted and who I wanted to be. With my best friends, this didn’t really happen. But with acquaintances and romantic relationships, I would become distant from myself which would also lead to a certain distance from others. I couldn’t honestly communicate who I was and what I wanted because I myself wasn’t aware of what exactly I wanted. And once I figured it out, it felt scary to tell.

Sometimes that distance returns, even in my thirties. I find myself getting swept up in other people’s lives and dispositions once again, and I lose what I want and start to forget who I am. If I don’t stay in touch with myself by meditating, re-centering, talking to good friends, and expressing what I need, this old habit from the past seems to return.

It’s interesting that even though we can come so far by the time we’re in our thirties, those old traits from our younger days can still seem to be lurking around the corner, waiting for a time to reappear and scare the crap out of us. For now, anyway.

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