By Marlene Caraballo.
It seems the older we get, the more alone we sometimes feel.
Society pushes us to manage life all alone under the guise of independence; the marker for having made it. The push begins as kids, from the day we’re born, and continues in a long and pressured rush away from any and all dependency.
As parents, we contribute to the push. From hurrying babies to leave behind the pacifier or breast, to weaning from the sippy cup, to the pressures of early potty-training. Straight into the rush to crawl, then walk, then run, and then — hurry up and graduate from school.
With barely a chance to breathe or look around at what we’ve accomplished, we quickly push to move out and live on our own to prove we’ve made it – we can live independently.
As twenty and thirty-somethings, we run the race of proving how independent we really are. Working, earning money, paying bills, raising kids, barely ever pressing the pause button.
We’re groomed to handle everything on our own. Taught not to lean on anyone else. To be a successful adult, aka independent, is to handle everything on our own.
In those decades of building and maintaining independence we often lose sight of one of the most vital dependent treasures we will so crucially need and enjoy in midlife. Friends.
Having friends at this time in our lives is more important than ever. We think our younger years are intense and that midlife will be a breeze; just loads of free time and no worries.
Wrong. For many of us over-fifties, everyday life can still be intensely demanding. Some of us still have hormonally angsty teens at home making us pull our hair out and at the same time, we’re coping with the heartbreak and exhaustion of caring for our aging parents.
This is a time in life when having dear friends to depend on is so important to us; it’s downright critical to our mental health!
When we feel like we can’t handle one more pressure, it’s our relationships and conversations with close friends that gently tilt the pressure cooker lid to let a little steam escape before we blow.
Depending on a dear friend to listen, to care, to offer advice and to occasional lend a hand is not admitting defeat or a sign of failure, it’s not the opposite of independence – it’s the kind of self-care that keeps us emotionally healthy and grounded.
If you’re guilty of being so independent that you’ve let your friendships fade away, now is the time to reconnect! If you don’t feel your friends from a decade ago could relate to your current life, it’s time to make new friends!
As we age and our focus on remaining fiercely independent begins to softly blur, we start to realize that the treasure of friendship is what will carry us though.
This journey we are on requires support and love and kindness. There is much loss and grief, and laughter and joy, coming our way. The kind of experiences that are made profoundly better when shared with a dear friend.
So, consider finding a moment today to reach out and lean on a cherished friend with whom you can share the crazy moments of this bumpy journey called life.