When you’re in middle age, you start to realize how very much you need your friends. After decades of relentless striving — kids, house, career, spouse — we find ourselves coming up for breath at some point in these middle decades. And what remains? With any luck, our friends.
A recent Atlantic Monthly article (do yourself a favor and read it at tinyurl.com/lifelongfriends), says that according to the Stanford Center on Longevity, those of us over 40 have aged out of the friendship-collecting business, which tends to peak in the tumbleweed stage of life, and move into the friendship-enjoying business, luxuriating in the relationships that survived as we put down roots.
The problem? Those friendships are awfully hard-won. Life’s significant upheavals and changes can prove too much for many friendships to withstand. As years go by, some of the dearest people in your life have gently faded away.
But these bonds with friends are more than an extra in your life story — they are the story. Over and over, we hear stories of how Kappa Sigma friends drove overnight to be in weddings, wept together at funerals, cheered at the news of new babies, toasted promotions, and gathered together in adversity. In a nutshell: the friendships we gained — and still have — with fraternity brothers is exquisitely rare in today’s world.
Author Jennifer Senior says, “Practically everyone who studies friendship says this in some form or another: What makes friendship so fragile is also exactly what makes it so special. You have to continually opt in. That you choose it is what gives it its value.”
Our Alpha Tau friendships have seen us through so much, but don’t take them for granted. Take a minute to text or call your roommate, or intramural teammate, and tell them that you are thinking of them. Our friendships have fueled these decades since graduation… Let’s keep it going.