A main reason we fall in love is because the other person is open to listening to every one of your crazy, monstrous thoughts. It’s comforting to know that somebody else in the world can access your brain— you’re not the only person who is being subjected to your mind shit storm.
It’s not easy being a 20-something-year-old in this day and age (especially those of us who are more categorically right-brained).
Many conversations I share with my friends concern school, jobs, finances, etc. As young adults, the daily hustle to try and “get by” while still chasing our hopes, dreams, and ambitions is a hard balance to maintain.
“What am I gonna do after college?”
“Where do I wanna end up in 10 years?”
“I really need a job right now.”
“I need to call the bank.”
“I hope I get this internship.”
“I wanna do something I really love.”
“I want to be a [insert occupation].”
Everyone is out chasing an opportunity to gain work experience in a field they hope to have a career in and are struggling to find/maintain/persevere through 9-to-5, minimum-wage jobs to have enough money for rent, food, clothes, etc. And even in the midst of the hustle, we often dream bigger and more colorfully than our practicality can handle. Although our gazes are fixed on the horizon of our great pursuits, the hope of our futures seem dim as we wade through the hard realities of the day-to-day.
Here’s a thought that (hopefully) can help.
I believe small changes in the conversations we have with our close friends can uplift our spirits. Talking with someone about your worries and anxieties has an incredible therapeutic quality— we like when people listen to us, it makes us feel known and cared for. The periodic head-nods, stable eye-contact, the “mmhmm”s, interjecting “I know” and “I’m sorry you feel that way”, are all validating qualities within a conversation to make the speaker feel known and heard.
More than the head-nods, eye-contact, and the interjected phrases, I’ve found something else that friends can do for each other in these conversations that has been incredibly energizing for me.
It’s the words “we” and “us”. Because when we respond with “we” and “us”, our friends know—for certain—that they are not alone. It’s confirming the commitment that is already there in a strong friendship. It’s knowing that the other 20-something-year-old sitting in front of you is struggling just as you are and saying: “We’ll get through it, we have each other.”
When a friend says “I need a job” the response of “You’ll find a job” only implies the inevitable. Of course if someone is searching for a job, they’ll inevitably stumble upon one. The response of “We’ll find you a job” says: “I’m going to be here with you while you look through job openings, help you pick out interview outfits, and will be here to listen to all your ranting/rambling about how jobs suck and interviews suck and slacks suck.”
When a friend says “I want to end up doing something I love” the response of “You will” implies a pat on the back and that you’re sending your friend on a lonely journey towards their dreams. The response of “We will” says: “We’re both gonna pursue our goals head-on and we’ll believe in each other’s passion, encourage each other. And when we get there we’ll enjoy it together.”
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s important to have good friends and to believe in each other. We push each other to hard work and perseverance. We feel better about our 20-something-year-old lives because we have others who empathize. Henry D. Thoreau once said, “Friends… they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to each other’s dreams.” And if we cherish each other’s hopes and are kind to each other’s dreams, our individual lives become more livable and enjoyable, because somebody else believes in them too, and loves you enough to live their life right alongside you.
We’ll get there. And we’ll be fine… we’ll be great.
I thought I “got it” when I was a freshman. And now that I’m a senior, I realize how much more I don’t “got it”. And I’m pretty sure I’m gonna spend my whole life trying to “get it”. Get it?
It is our vocation to observe the spiritual as it manifests within the physical… and then write, draw, sculpt, or paint about it.