I’m a part of a really great group of regional (Northwest Arkansas) bloggers who have banded together to use our voices to share causes that are important to us. This is our second year of #NWARKcares-ing and I’m so excited to be starting it off with this important day – National Friendship Day. I want to share four things that are true for me about friendship in your mid twenties. And let me know in the comments if these are/were true for you, or what other things are! Friendship is hard, we can all learn from each other to be better friends and to be better at making new friends!
Four things about friendship in your mid-20’s:
Your college friends become ‘old’ friends – the best kind of friends. Old friends have been around for awhile and you don’t have to worry that they’ll ditch the friendship anymore. No matter how far away you live, you can text them for advice – and visit them – and be grown ups together. Not just the grown ups you thought you were when you were 18,19, and 20 – but real ones with jobs and interesting lives and thoughts to share with each other. My newly old friends are my best friends because they’ve known me long enough that I know I can share anything with them and they’ll stick with me.
You can stop being friends with people obligatorily. In your younger years you are friends with people to be nice. My mom used to ensure that I invited my whole class to parties and gave everyone in my class a valentine. You could have favorites, but you had to include everyone. It’s a good thing when you’re young to learn to get along with and appreciate everyone. But when you start to grow up, you can be choosier with the people you hang out with and that’s a good thing.
Hanging out is harder. You aren’t in shared living space, on the same campus, or sharing similar schedules. You have to make an effort and plan things and connect with people on a regular basis with some amount of effort. It’s harder, but the friends are higher quality than those friends you had out of convenience.
Meeting new friends is harder and more ‘specialized’. Seeking out potential friends means leaving your house, joining groups, spending time with strangers – and trying to find ones with similar interests.
Before I leave you with that sort of sweet and sour list of things about friendship in your mid-20’s, here’s some cool ways that I’ve made friends lately that you might try (at any age):
Join a meetup or two. There’s groups with all kinds of interests on meetup from professional groups to outdoor adventurers to weird swinger folks. Find something that you’re into and go to the next meetup that group’s having. You might end up on a bike ride with a bunch of geriatric (and very nice) people with killer quads – but you might also meet your next best friend!
Join a church. I’m a super atheist, but I’m also a member of the Unitarian Universalist church and have met my most like-minded friends there. Here’s a pretty awesome way to find out what religion your beliefs align with: Belief-O-Matic. (There’s also meetup groups for religious-ish interests.)
Volunteer doing something that you think is cool. Volunteering might sound cheesy, but it’s really a good way to get to know other people with similar interests and passions. You might end up standing in a parking lot and freezing your butt off while you try to corral hundreds of cyclists, but you’ll also meet a whole bunch of other people who think bikes are cool!
Do you think about your personal impact on the environment? It’s something I think about almost every day. I was a kid in the 90’s, which means that I grew up in the era of the invention of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” and had a childhood centered around being highly conscious of our environment. Between that and parents who made sure I had a broad world view – beyond myself, and beyond convenience – I can get pretty hippy-dippy about environmental stuff. So, if it’s not your thing to eat kale chips or whatever, bear with me. I’m going to give you six really easy things that I do to help the environment that you can do too.
Choose my bike over my car when possible. Luckily, Northwest Arkansas is a really bicycle friendly region. We have extensive trail systems, lots of “share” lanes, and a community that supports cycling. You don’t need me to tell you about the negative environmental impacts of driving your car. Your challenge: bike (or walk) somewhere you normally drive. Just try it once, you’ll feel amazing! Let me know how it goes!
Recycle! I live in Fayetteville and have two of the small recycling bins the city provides, so I’m really lucky to be able to stick my recyclables on the curb each week. We also have a set of blue bins in our kitchen and a bin in our bathroom for recycling. I’ve found that if there’s a place (or three) in the house for recycling to go, it doesn’t stray into the trash can. Lots of folks have to go the extra mile and tote their recycling to the nearest drop-off center. Fayetteville has plenty of these scattered around though – so no excuses! Your challenge: set up a recycling bin in your home. Already have one? Add another!
Compost! I have a little bin for compost in my kitchen that sits by the sink. Having the bin in sight is important, especially if you’re just starting to compost, because it’s a reminder to put things in the bin (and also to empty it!) Lately I’ve been branching out our composting into more paper goods. I even put a compost bin in our bathroom for tissues, cotton balls, and q-tips. We have a big metal trash can with holes drilled in all sides in our backyard for the compost to go when it leaves the house. Your challenge: compost something! No excuses. Figure out where you can start or contribute to a compost pile or bin and put something in it! (When I lived in an apartment I worked with my church to set up a compost bin in their garden and brought my bucket of scraps to the pile weekly.)
Donate what I don’t use. This goes for all things, but when I think about it I usually think most about clothes. We don’t have textile recycling in Fayetteville, so a lot of times a stained t-shirt is a big bulk of our trash for the week. If things are still usable though, it’s important to donate them to a thrift store where they can await their next home! I have a bag in my home office that is marked “give away”. And that bag is always there. That way, as I’m trying something on – if I’m not into it – it has a place. It’s not like, oh I should donate this one day when I go through my closet. I actually never go through my closet in one big day of purging. I just have the bag, and fill it up over the course of a month or so, and take it to the thrift store when it’s full. Your Challenge: create an out-box in your home for things to donate. Make it somewhere permanent. Don’t worry about filling it up, just know that it’s there and when you come across that chipped tea cup that’s still too pretty to throw away or a dress that doesn’t fit any more, you’ll know where to put them.
Choose to Buy things with less packaging, or recyclable packaging. This is something I’m working on a lot lately. It’s really challenging to do since our city only recycles plastic numbers 1 and 2. And worse, the plastic containers have to have an opening smaller than their base (aka be bottle shaped). Choosing a recyclable cardboard egg carton over plastic or styrofoam is easy, but buying spinach that’s not in a plastic clam shell container can be hard. This week I’m making a grocery list that is broken up by which store I will buy each thing at, and I’m going to do it with where I can buy things in bulk and bring my own container in mind. Your Challenge: Shop consciously. Next time you’re at the store think about the packaging around your food. Make choices that are environmentally friendly when possible. And if you find yogurt in a container that Fayetteville recycles, I will be your best friend.
Share the knowledge. Lately I haven’t been able to shut up about composting toilets. We had a plumbing problem at my house, and I was all – “See! See! If we had a composting toilet, these roots wouldn’t be an issue!” And what I’ve learned is that there are a lot of people who are also super into composting toilets (automatic friend people!) But also, there are people who don’t know a thing about them, or don’t totally get it. I am excited that I get to share and make some normalcy out of environmentalism for those people just by having a chat. Your Challenge: Talk to someone about something you do to help the environment or something you wish you could do. Who knows, they might be able to help you do it or do it better!
I want to know, what’s on your list? What things do you do to help the environment? What things do you wish you could do? Let’s figure out how to make them possible! What things do you have questions about? Let’s find the answers! Leave a comment below.
Ozark Natural Science Center – A local organization the strives to enhance our understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of the Ozark natural environment through school programs. Really powerful stuff.
Beaver Watershed Alliance – Northwest Arkansas has one water source: Beaver Lake. We need to keep it clean! Check out the Beaver Watershed Alliance to find out more.
April’s #NWARKcares cause was the environment. Through my blogger friends’ posts and conversations this month, I learned a lot about the important factors in preserving the natural beauty of this place, the Ozarks.
Yesterday, I helped my mom go through all of her books that have been stored away in her attic for several years. I had to be there to help because I knew I would want many of the books that she was ready to get rid of. We each kept a big stack, but decided that the majority could go. We stored childhood treasures, and carried our stacks of keepers to our respective bookcases in our homes. We’ve moved into the digital age, and when we want paper we use our libraries for everything from novels to coffee table books these days.
Although I do work at the Fayetteville Public Library which accepts donations of books, I decided I wanted the books to go somewhere more accessible to people who might not have the means to access the library’s collection. So, with a few teeteringly tall stacks of books to give away, I decided to stock my local Little Free Library. I ride by the new installment, sponsored by Adventure Subaru, outside of the trailside entrance to Arsaga’s at the Depot on my bike when I’m commuting downtown each day, and have noticed it’s collection dwindling. I think that Little Free Library and my stack of super cool books are going to be a perfect match.
So, I’m here to bring you a new and exciting series here on the blog! Each week, I’ll take a small stack of books to the Little Free Library, but before I do, I’ll share a bit about the books and what makes them so cool. If you see something you want, you’ll know where to find it – but you’ll have to get there first!
September’s cause was literacy. Through my blogger friends’ posts and conversations this month, I learned a lot about the importance of Little Free Libraries and how access to reading material is a key factor in improving literacy.