The Unexpected Chapter: Thirty, travelling and thriving!

This one is not strictly travel related, but travel definitely comes into it. Covid was obviously a life changer for millions of us. For me I went into Covid recently single with a bunch of late twenties/early thirties circle of close friends and a wider circle of friends you’d see every few months or in the pub. Coming out the other side, post lockdown my nearest and dearest have settled into married life, committed to the whole mortgage thing and made the most beautiful babies in the world. I’m completely biassed of course but also completely correct in that statement. The love I feel for these little people surprised me and I simply cannot imagine a world without them now, much as my friends can’t either. 

My circle has always been close. My family situation meant that my safe people, the people I turn to in times of crisis have been my besties. My ride or dies. What’s funny about friendships and particular female friendships is that these people are the great loves of my life and I know I’m not alone. The girls, these women, romantic relationships will come and go, houses, jobs, goals will change but these girls are my soul sisters. If there was one thing I wish I could impart on my younger self, if your girls don’t like your partner, just go ahead and drop him like a hot snot. Throw the whole damn man out. Before you’ve dealt with your past trauma’s your friends will see the red flags you can’t see yet. They’ll kind of get why you like them, but also completely get why they’re not the person for you. They are simply not worthy. If you’re young and haven’t found this group yet my advice is try and find them. Focus on finding these people, your ‘ride or dies’ before even thinking about finding a partner! 

Whilst the concept of best friends is something pretty embedded in us, so too is the concept of a partner/husband/wife. Go to school, don’t do drugs, find a nice person to marry, buy a house and have kids. This is bet into us from a young age, across most cultures and religions. We’re taught that this person you settle down with is your family and we must never forget ‘blood is thicker that water’ and all that bollocks. The danger in this is that the message seems to be that friendships are for before the marriage, before the building of your own family. We’ve all seen this happen when our friends find themselves in relationships and all of a sudden they seem to vanish. All their time and focus is now on this new romantic relationship and all the hope and promise it offers. This is normal to an extent but I’m questioning how healthy it is. Time and time again, and I’m guilty of this too, we throw ourselves into these relationships and if we’re lucky, our friends are there to catch us when our worlds come crashing down. Even though we’ve possibly done this to them a number of times. We’ve put them to the bottom of our priority list and promise not to do it again, until we meet the next one and ‘this one’s different’. I’m not saying they’re not different, maybe they are the one, maybe this is who you’ll marry and have babies with and build a life with and that’s truly a magical and wonderful thing. But why does it have to be one or the other? Why do we feel we have to choose? 

This absolutely goes for men too. We’ve all seen men who get into relationships and 2 years in have no friends, they’re whole world now revolves around their partner. This also obviously not healthy. Disregarding the fact that romantic relationships have a tendency to come and go and end despite all the work we’ve put in to keep them, it’s not good to have one person be your sounding board. You’re go to. Your complete support system. It’s also not good for them to be your complete support system. Yes, it can feel good but we never really know what’s around the corner and what is often not seen is how isolated you and your partner have actually become. So yeah, go find your ride or dies, your soul sisters, your brother from another mother and make sure they know how much of a priority they are in your life. 

I’m lucky in that I have these soul sisters, but like all things, relationships change. This is neither good nor bad in itself but can be very difficult when the people you’ve been roughly on the same journey in your life with for the last 15 or 20 years are now on a completely different journey from you. Some find that ‘perfect’ person for them and love them so much they can’t help but want to make mini versions of him/her. This is of course pure love and magic for them and such a comfort and joy seeing your friend experience this. Your heart just grows to fit them in (and their babies if they do that) and now none of you can imagine a world without them. 

Once the babies come along though, it does mean that how you spend time together will completely change. You will naturally fall down the priority list, how much depends on them but also your flexibility to their new world. They will not have a full night sleep again for a few years, they will forget invites, things you discussed and will have all the guilt for being a poor friend, a poor Mam, a poor partner, a poor career woman and all the other guilt bullshit women face. For the first year at least it’s about how you can maintain the friendship in a way that doesn’t make their life any harder than it already is right now. Go over, bring food, hang their laundry on the line, mind the baby so they can shower, go for a walk with the baby so the baby can get a nap in and you’z can have a catch up. Equally if you’re the new mama, think about how to keep yourself sane and well and do that. Ask for the help, ask for time with friends/family and swap out with the partner if you have one. All those friends who offered to babysit, take them up on it. 

I know this is potentially coming off quite preachy but I’m quite chuffed with how well I’ve managed to maintain my, albeit completely different, friendships with my friends with kids. As much as my friends’ lives have changed, their wants and needs, so have mine. The flexibility I’ve extended to my new mama friends they’ve also extended to me. As I realise myself that things I wanted five years ago now couldn’t be further from what I want or need to be happy, my friends have rolled with this. They’ve completely supported me announcing I’m emigrating to the other side of the world (during a pandemic) knowing how much they’d miss me. Bringing this back to me (was it ever not on me?!) this whole chapter of my life, I felt very unprepared for. No one warned me I wouldn’t have someone to randomly go for drinks with, that a night out needed 6 months notice or just yano, accept it’s not gonna happen. No one warned me people wouldn’t be up for weekends away and drinking till the bar closes. Knowing and accepting my friends’ changed lifestyles means having to shift my focus away from my ‘ride or dies’ for my entertainment essentially. Although they would be my favourite people to do these things with I need to find new people. When I fancy a hike, or exploring somewhere new or a roller disco I look elsewhere, and I know that there are many more in my boat.

This has actually been so liberating and I’m gonna argue, a hidden benefit of social media. I’m not talking instagram friendships, I’m talking about Facebook groups. I’ve joined some incredible women’s facebook groups and feel like I’ve found my people, my tribe. People with itchy feet, adrenaline junkies, adventure seekers and I see ALL THE TIME, we’re out there doing this on our own. Check out Girl Gone International (and put in your city), Solo Female Network, Girls Love Travel, Host a sister (this ones truly amazing!). The Host a Sister page is literally a network of women who either look for house swaps with people, offer up a room where they live, or their home while they’re away. People also post that they’re going to some city and ask if anyone can host them. They usually offer to host their hostess when they get home so it’s a great way to see the world, experience some of it with a local and also it’s just women supporting women which I just love. We need more of this. 

Whilst solo travelling and living independently is incredible, but it can get lonely sometimes. Seeing women in these groups, who are married but still regularly solo travel gives me hope. Hope that there are people out there who settle down with us wanderers! Dating today is awful, I won’t go on. Single people know and the non single know coz they have single friends. I’m putting a pin in this one till I’ve moved (probably!) Plus, I have to save and dating is expensive! This chapter has been a real rollercoaster for me and I know I’m not alone has really helped. My fist few years in my 30’s have by far been the best years of my life to date though, despite being almost dangerously single and I know it’s only going to get better. This chapter of my life is wrapping up in the next few months and a whole new one will be starting by December. Two summers in a row baby! (Our winter is Ozzy Summer!). All I can say is, the rest of the book is looking good <3. 

And on a final note, can we take a moment to be grateful for the body confidence women get in later life please!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: