Many of my friends and I have had discussions about 2015 being the most challenging year of our lives yet. We always start by pondering the idea of increased responsibility as we age and if that has anything to do with the challenges we feel we are facing. There is definitely certain societal pressures that come with maturing and creeping into your thirty’s, many that a few of my friends and I have not reached or do not desire. These milestones include getting married, having children, buying your own home, and having a set career. And although societal pressures are slowly shifting, at least people tell me they are, I am not so sure that there has been a direct correlation to decreasing the pressure of reaching these milestones within friendship circles and families. In reality, 2015 has been a tough year!
I met a close friend nearly six years ago. Wow! Let me take a moment to reflect on the fact that I started in the Child and Youth Care Masters program six years ago! Our peer group was small and for the most part we were respectful with one another. A group of females is always prime space for drama but we did okay and a few of us came out as friends, some closer than others. Since our cohort was together, two days a week for nearly eight months, we have all gone in various directions. Some of us have moved on to Doctoral studies, some have completed their Doctoral studies and are now Professors. Others have moved into practice based careers and a few are lost to my knowledge. At the time of our program I took it upon myself to plan events and bring the group together but as we drifted and life went in different directions our connections faded, some faster than others. However, I am grateful to have left the program with one close friend.
We, my friend and I, have connected more and more recently. We live in different cities and even when we were in different Countries have always made it a point to check in, sometimes daily and other times once in a blue moon. It never feels like we are too far apart, this is something that provides comfort, at least to me. Over the last year we have both had some challenging experiences, personally and professionally. They could be seen as challenges of polar opposites and yet there is something that bonds our experiences together. Our healing journeys, although divided for the most part, have many points of connection. We have found comfort in physical activities including working out and going for hikes (individually and collectively), journalling, being mad at the system, and so forth. Our support systems differ and yet are similar. I sought support in a personal trainer who helps me release my tension through pure physical exertion while my friend has opted for a talk therapy and “f*ck it therapy” approach. Neither is better nor worse but they fit our needs, at least at the moment. Our text messages back and forth range from humour, the nitty gritty of daily living, encouragement to get out and do something good for ourselves, to anger towards the system, and the sharing of stories to overcome certain challenges.
This friend of mine is privy to information that I have not shared with others. I rarely share my feelings based on a fear of judgement. After all, I am a human and I can get wrapped up in what others may think of me even when I focus my attention elsewhere. More importantly however is that I have learned that sharing my path, having another personal alongside my journey yet on their own journey, has been a beneficial part of my understanding and growth. To know you are not alone in your 2015 battle is comforting in this sometimes uncomfortable world we live in. If I could encourage everyone to do one thing, it would be to find your person(s), to create a space were you can safely work through whatever might be going on in that moment, and to know that there are wonderful people out there, in your world. Trust is likely the most challenging part of the process – a topic for another day!
This person(s) you confide in may never know how important they are to you or you may never know how important you are to another. As much as it is amazing to hear how grateful people are to have you in their lives and vice versa I encourage you to shift your thinking. Be a little selfish and obtain what you need to increase your happiness and health. My guess is that for most individuals being happy and healthy will lead to naturally supporting others, to increasing the joy and health of others, and creating a full circle of movement from health to healthy.