For our school mixers in eighth grade, my friends and I would often choreograph a dance. We'd all wear the same outfit (along the lines of: black pants, red tank top, sequins on the corners of our eyes), and when the DJ played our song, we'd simultaneously bust out our moves.
Middle school, high school and, even college, are typically periods of sameness. Not necessarily matching outfits and bejeweled eyes, but we're all in it together - navigating the same classes and campuses. Dealing with similar issues and trials.
As we enter into our 20s everything changes. Suddenly, it feels like we're not all in it together.
While some people are getting married, others feel eternally single. Some people are getting promotions while others are piling up degrees in grad school. Alongside weddings are divorces. Alongside babies are breakups. With joy for one, comes jealousy for another.
After years of sameness throughout adolescence, it's easy to believe that in order to have deep, real friendships, we must stay in the same phases as one another.
But, what I've learned is that connection doesn't require common ground.
As cynical as it may sound, it's unlikely that we'll ever all be in the exact same phase again. There will be marriages, divorces, babies and miscarriages. There will be new cities and friends. These tides are constantly shifting and, if we can only maintain friendships when we're all the same, it will be impossible.
So how do we do it?
1. By trying to understand. Although we aren't in the same phase, we can still practice empathy and joy for one another.
We can celebrate when our friends buy a house, even if we're rocking a little rental. We can mourn it when a friend doesn't get into grad school, even if we just got a promotion. We can practice deep care for one another, even if we don't fully understand what they're feeling.