The Stretching

Just a couple of weeks ago, something happened that stopped me dead in my tracks. A small incident on its own, perhaps, but it crystallised something I had long suspected but desperately pushed away. The realisation hit me squarely in the chest: “These are not my friends.”

 

No grand betrayal, no dramatic fight. Just an accumulation of those moments where I felt… invisible. Unimportant. The realisation they wouldn’t have my back when it mattered most, not really. They weren’t invested in my life, and I certainly didn’t feel safe sharing the vulnerable parts of myself anymore.

 

 

Losing friends who ultimately don’t protect or honour you that’s the hardest pill to swallow. Especially when there’s still a lingering affection, a fondness for what once was. Mourning the loss of a friendship that wasn’t even toxic, just empty, makes the “What now?” ring even louder. It’s a loneliness you didn’t expect, even as you consciously made the choice to walk away.

 

A quiet resolve settled in after the initial sting of heartbreak wore off, replaced with a dull ache and far too much self-blame. Tears continued, but they were fueled by determination rather than despair. I made a decision that might seem dramatic to some, perhaps even an overreaction. But for me, it was the line in the sand, the declaration of self-worth, that marked a true turning point in my journey towards becoming the best, most wholehearted version of myself.

 

Your early 30s trigger an internal shift, a transition into a different kind of adulthood. The carefree exploration of my 20s still holds a warm glow, but now I crave something more grounded. As I grow, it becomes clear that some friendships don’t share the same trajectory. The mismatch isn’t intentional or unkind; it simply reflects diverging paths and changing goals. Witnessing this can be equal parts poignant and exciting, mirroring the inherent contradictions of personal growth.

As I stretch and adjust in this new decade, cultivating connections rooted in a shared purpose feels essential. This doesn’t require identical job titles or cookie-cutter life plans. It’s more nuanced: finding people whose energy aligns with mine, who push me to become better and hold space for my vulnerabilities without judgment. Perhaps there’s a mutual dedication to creative pursuits, a shared commitment to social justice, or an unspoken understanding about the challenges of balancing ambition with mental well-being.

 

This search involves rethinking what friendship means to me now. In my 20s, companionship was partly about convenience, friends by proximity, by shared schedules. Now, it’s about identifying those sparks of recognition, those moments where I think, “This person gets it.” Finding these connections can involve braving new territories, meetups based on shared interests, reaching out to someone on social media whose work resonates, even joining online communities focused on a specific passion.

 

Often, clarifying the direction you want to move in means saying goodbye or at least gently downgrading friendships that no longer nourish you. This involves difficult conversations, moments of honest self-reflection, and perhaps occasional pangs of guilt. But making this space is vital; the ‘stretching’ of this decade is about embracing growth and making room for those whose presence genuinely propels you forward.

The beauty lies in the intentionality, a shift from friendships by default to connections by choice. Of course, there’s still room for lighthearted humour and shared silliness. But beneath that, a deeper bond forms when two people understand where the other is headed, even if their paths aren’t exactly parallel. This is the type of friendship that anchors and uplifts during the transformative ride of your 30s.

 

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Ntianu Obiora is a versatile creative professional with over a decade of experience in publishing, marketing, communications, and digital strategy. She is the Online Editor at THEWILL DOWNTOWN

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About Author / Ntianu Obiora

Ntianu Obiora is a versatile creative professional with over a decade of experience in publishing, marketing, communications, and digital strategy. She is the Online Editor at THEWILL DOWNTOWN

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