I began this monthly series to delve into the lessons I learned from my parents throughout my life—words of wisdom you can probably relate to or perhaps heard in your lifetime.
As I near my thirties, I continue to realize that my parents were right about everything. EVERYTHING! Growing up, they (mainly my father) constantly gave me words of wisdom, advice, and tips to live by. Being the person I am, which is stubborn, difficult, and unruly, I always rolled my eyes when they spoke. While there were many instances where I considered their advice, there were countless times I tuned out their words.
In my post-graduate life, I continue to navigate adulthood and find myself living by the words they spoke—catching myself in those moments. I laugh as I walk-of-shame with my tail between my legs to tell them they were completely right when they said whatever they said.
This month, I reflect on the time my dad told me a few years ago, “You’ll never have as many friends as you did while you were in school. Half these friends you have, you won’t talk to them in a year—and it’ll continue to get smaller.” Wow dad, such subtlety and grace.
How. Dare. He.
I felt so offended when he told me this. I remember angrily thinking, “HOW DARE HE QUESTION MY FRIENDSHIPS AND THE QUALITY OF THEM!”
He was right.
College—undergraduate and graduate—was such a high point for me, especially when it came to my social life. I was best friends with everyone; everything revolved around my peers. In fact, I mentally had a tier system to track everyone and their status in my life (shallow, I know). I did not see an issue with having thirty best friends.
None of this, however, was real. I lost many “best friends” along the way for various reasons—perhaps they were difficult, perhaps I was difficult. I fell out of touch with others for no apparent reason, just that realization that we only had school and each other in common. Then, I myself became too busy to make time for all my “best friends.” As adulthood began, so did my career, responsibilities to my family and nephews, and newfound independence that needed to be lived.
It is in the losses that I found true friendships—relationships—with those who are my rocks in good times and bad times. Push came to shove when my mom battled cancer. My brother previously survived it, so I knew this would be another period in my life where I needed emotional support. As my heart shattered to pieces, only a handful called me, regularly checked in with me, sent my mom flowers, and/or visited her. It’s not that I think less of those who didn’t bother to acknowledge the situation, it’s that I found myself longing to give a place in my heart for those who did. I wanted to nurture those friendships, not waste my energy with those who would not reciprocate the effort.
Nevertheless, the lesson isn’t just about me placing the blame on others. I realized from these moments that I outgrew many people. I, for the first time, saw how I grew as a man compared to the young adult I was years ago. In turn, this changed my outlook in life and the people I wanted to surrounded myself with in my life.
My dad was completely right, but what he forgot to mention was the outcome of this boiling-down process. The relationships that you nurture over time gift you with amazing memories, experiences, and people that you can call your family. I’ve been blessed to be in weddings, officiate weddings, officiate dedications, and act as an rock for those in my life. To transition from “school friends” to life’s friends is such a rare occurrence that nobody should take for granted.
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