Seasons, baby! But not the weather-related kind. I’m talking young adulthood, singlehood, engagement, marriage, children, home buying, breakups, fallouts, etc. You know those kinds? You may not know them all yet, depending on where you are in life, but you’ll experience some of them, and many more.
The seasons of life happen based on where we are, who we’re with, and what we choose (or what’s planned for us, if you believe in that). Sometimes the seasons we go through align, timing-wise, with the same seasons our loved ones go through. And sometimes, we feel farther apart in life experience than we ever have with the people closest to us.
The seasons we go through happen in most areas: friendships, relationships, and also with ourselves. As a gal in her 30s, I’ve been through some seasons, and have watched many others I love go through their own. Which leads me to my personal tale of different life seasons.
IN REAL LIFE: OUT OF SYNC
I’ve always been on a different track than most of my friends. Not a late bloomer per se but experiencing seasons at different times. For example…
In my 20s, I was the queen of attending weddings (I am an excellent guest, if you need a party starter!). I had a separate savings account just for wedding/shower/bachelorette festivities. During one particular year, I was invited to 12 weddings – and that doesn’t include the ones my boyfriend at the time was invited to. At that point, I had this weird intuition that I would be an older bride. Mid-30s was my guess (and weirdly, I’m on track for that!). So I watched, and was a part of, dozens of friends going through a season of life I knew wasn’t in the cards for me for a long time.
I learned so much watching my friends go through that particular season. I feel like I know tons of ins, outs, expectations, etiquette, what I do and don’t want based on the experience of being there for my people who went through that season. But there is definitely something to be said about not fully being able to relate and understand a season someone is going through when you haven’t gone through that season yourself. I wasn’t able to nod my head because I knew what they were going through, I wasn’t able to offer advice from my personal experience. I could support and love them, but I couldn’t offer them more than that.
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage. Lots of my people went through their own personal wedding season, so it’s only natural that some of them have also gone through the baby season. My first friends to have kids now have eight-year-old kiddos. I have pregnant friends, friends with twins, friends who have miscarried, friends with up to four children. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY BABY SHOWERS I’VE BEEN TO?! I digress. I’ve watched this season for many friends as well. And believe me, I am grateful for it! I feel like I’ve gone through birth and parenting classes through my friends and am prepared for the unpreparedness of the life season of having kids.
Forget not going through the wedding season myself…the baby season? That is a whole new level. And there is a very real, very jarring feeling when you can’t relate to what someone is going through. You can empathize, but you can’t speak from personal experience. I couldn’t tell them it would be okay when their baby didn’t latch, because they had no experience of mine to trust. When they got up four times during the night with a fussy baby, I withheld my own tiredness from being expressed. My friends didn’t necessarily need my personal experience to lean on, but at times I felt like there was a new type of distance between us since they were in a different season of life I couldn’t go through with them.
But alas, that is okay! A beautiful thing about life seasons is that you wind up finding people who are in the same season as you. For example, one of my closest friends made a new best friend during her hospital visit and mandatory hospital class. The new best friend is awesome – I love her – and man was it crazy to watch that happen. The shared experience and the same season they went through brought them together and created a bond equal in strength to relationships my friend has had her whole life. Isn’t that wild?
When friends got married, they bonded closely with other brides. When friends’ kids started daycare, they found other daycare parents to share working parent feelings with. When friends bought homes, people going through the same thing showed up in their lives.
For me? When I became newly single at 30, I found other single people who had the same spirit of wanting to travel and be free. When I quit my long-standing corporate job, I found other people on a path of self-discovery who impacted me SO much in a short time frame. I felt closer to them than any of my family or friends back home, while I backpacked through Europe (yep, my life is weird).
Call it fate, the universe, God, or coincidence but somehow our seasons find other people in the same season. And those people are GIFTS. Our seasons may not align with those closest to us, but they will align with people who will become close to us.
Some of those people, and bonds, stay forever. Some are there only until that season is over. The best part is, everyone wins. You find support with the new people in your same season, and you still get to keep the love and support of your other people, regardless of their season. I still have all my true-blue friends, despite the fact that our seasonal alignment has been way off. And both me, and my friends, have been blessed by the other friendships we made during the seasons when we couldn’t be there for each other in the same way. How amazing is that?
FAITH, TRUST AND PIXIE DUST
You will go through seasons of life, people you love will go through seasons of life, and everyone will be okay. But I understand that it can be hard to be in a different place than your loved ones. When that happens, it takes a little faith and trust that it will end up okay. The biggest thing for me, with all my misaligned seasons, has been to stay grounded. When my friends got married, or divorced, or had a baby, I didn’t try to be a new kind of friend. I stayed grounded in our friendship, what made us “us,” and served them as best I could as me. While that relationship changed for that time, I remained rooted in other areas of my life that weren’t changing at that time. Just like I talked about life’s ebbs and flows, the same is true for friendships and relationships. They might shift during different seasons, but the best and most real friendships and relationships always come back and grow as they should. And they’re always there for you, as you go through your own life seasons.