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Keeping Friendships for Life and Beyond

Keeping Friendships for Life and Beyond

Your first friend

It was the freckled girl in pigtails who spent hours hearing about your true love without once telling you that you are talking baloney (yes you were and you know it). Endless lunch hours spent giggling because your crush looked in your direction (the fact that he was just looking for his lost pencil was not discussed); endless notes passed in class discussing his dimples, endless phone calls abusing that ‘other girl’. Ms. Pigtails was your first friend. When that crush went away with that other girl, Ms. Pigtails stayed with you.

Then, of course, there was that dorky friend, jokes so bad they made you want to cry but got you through your difficult high school years. You still remember a few of those horrible jokes and giggle, don’t you? First friend number two.

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Along the years we all have had those friends. The ones who stalk your crushes with more enthusiasm than you, roll their eyes at the exact same time you do, treat your gossip with the same seriousness that Obama brings to world affairs, turn violently abusive towards people just because you mildly dislike them and shower you with unsolicited advice to the point that you want to scream.

Along the way, we lose a few of those friends. In those moments, we miss them, we blame life and circumstances, or just tell ourselves that this is the natural way of life.

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Well, I’ve also lost a lot of friends, but I’ve found a few lasting friendships too. Here are some lessons learnt on keeping ‘your person’ –  the sugar to your cake, the fizz to your Cola.

1. Accept things, friendships change, it’s not the end

It’s easy to be two peas in a pod when you are in the same university, studying the same courses. Not so much when you get a job, get married, have kids. That’s OK. He will not always be available to go drinking with you like college days. She will not always treat your boyfriend problems as the number one priority in her life. Yes, that’s upsetting. It’s even more upsetting when you feel like they have moved on. Got married, while you remain a bachelor. Changed jobs while you remain in the same one. It’s upsetting because not only do you struggle with the fact that you have drifted apart, you also get jealous of the things they have and you don’t. How do you tell your friend that you need their attention because you are an insecure child inside? That you are also jealous of them? Well, SAY IT. Pick up the phone and tell them you miss them and want to meet!

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2. Stay a little possessive

Sounds very contradictory, doesn’t it? Yes OK, we are adults; you can’t just go fight with her because she went shopping with some other friend. But what if for once you did? What if sometimes you just act like a freckled pig-tailed pigheaded little child who demands time. Who calls for an emergency drinking session because the boss has been particularly nasty that day. Who wants undivided attention while lamenting on a haircut gone wrong. Who refuses to share that friend for a few hours – no family, no work, no nothing! Immaturity and possessiveness don’t always kill a relationship; sometimes, in little quantities, they just make it warmer, sweeter, snugglier (Yes, I know that’s not a word!).

Your demanding to be priority number one for an evening won’t turn the world upside down. So do it, demand a little time for just the two of you and let your friend try to suppress their exasperated chuckles while clearing their schedule to accommodate you.

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3. Have a common ground

It may have been years since you connected over a shared passion – hatred for the same teacher, love for the same girl, lack of comprehension of the same subject. As you go on your different life paths, let something hold you together. It could be a common hobby – music, travel, dance, yoga. And, if you are like me, it would probably be something inane and stupid – love for chocolate fudge, hate for Ms. Perfect with the perfect Facebook pictures. It doesn’t really matter; what matters is to keep it alive. So take out time to spend a few hours connecting on shared passions in your adult life. Meet on the day you are ‘officially’ on a break from dieting (as opposed to unofficially, which is every day) and make obscene sounds of ecstasy over that shared ice cream sundae. After all, no one really understands an ice cream sundae the way our ‘also on a diet’ friends do.

4. Don’t get caught up in ‘the plan’

You know, the plan to meet at that chic club has been in the making for three months. Trust me; it may just be easier to make a baby than follow through on that  ‘plan’. It’s not college anymore where no one has a life so everyone shows up. Real life is cluttered with a million things to do, so don’t clutter it up further with elaborate plans. Just catch up. At that little shoe-box café right outside work, at each other’s untidy homes where kids are wailing, or at that particularly dull park with the ghostly tree. Just meet wherever you can to talk and laugh. Every friendship reaches a point where sometimes the best thing to do is to just be together.

So that’s my unsolicited advice. I hope I’m able to follow it as well. I can just about imagine myself sitting next to my friends when I’m 80 badmouthing our Facebook connections. Now that would have been a life well-lived!

With that, I sign off. And dial that number already!

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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