I’d venture to say many people aren’t thinking about friendship in their everyday lives. Tune in every Thursday for some thought-provoking conversation about these important relationships!
My friends will tell you I like to ask the hard questions. Before starting this podcast, they kept threatening to secretly record me for my insight on friendship. I don’t consider myself a friendship expert by any means – just a person who cares deeply about it.
My mom passed away when I was 13, and a lot of raising my younger brother and sister fell onto me. In high school and college, I really leaned into my friendships, which was my respite from this responsibility at home.
At the time, I had no idea what I was creating, but it became a support system unlike any other. Today I’m in my 30’s, and the close relationships I have with so many friends surprises people. Nobody has that kind of friendship as an adult, they say.
But we do, and it’s amazing.
I’m not here to tell you how to be a friend or have a friend; what I’m here to do is ask questions so you can build the right support system, made up of all the people – friends, family, romantic partners, children – whatever that looks like for you. I just want to get us all thinking about friendship.
In this episode you’ll hear:
- How valuing, talking about and thinking about friendship is counterculture – and why it shouldn’t be
- How, in small ways, you are already choosing what’s important to you through how you spend your time, resources, attention, etc.
- About how you deserve to feel you belong and enjoy all the ease, support, and company from other people
- How to do, ask, and expect less in your friendships, because it doesn’t have to be hard
- How sometimes all this friendship stuff can get uncomfortable – and why it’s okay
- About the book I wrote after my year of obsessing about friendships and community, which will be released in 2023
Where does friendship stand on your hierarchy of importance? How much time do you spend thinking about friendship?
Notable Quotes from Alex
“Because I had no other option as a kid, as an adult, I do things differently than most people. When you have no choice, you get creative. You put yourself out there. You take risks. And I just think about friendships differently than most people. But in order to feel like I could share, I really wanted to understand what was happening. How could I categorize these types of friendships? What was changing, exactly? I pretty much spent a year, year and a half, obsessively thinking about friendships, to the point where I accidentally wrote a book.”
“In your early 20’s, society’s like yeah, go hang out with your friends. Go do things with your friends. Go travel with your friends. You get to your late 30’s, and suddenly, society’s like, shouldn’t you be focusing on your career? Why haven’t you found a romantic partner? You should probably move closer to your family so that when, not if – society never says if – when you have kids, you’ll be around them. It wasn’t even people questioning whether or not I could have good friendships now. It’s just like, why invest your time in that?”
Until next time…
Take the conversation beyond the new podcast on friendship! Follow Alex on Instagram (@itsalexalexander) or Tiktok (@itsalexalexander), or send her a voice message directly with all your friendship thoughts, problems, and triumphs. Heading to AlexAlex.chat and hitting record. Share whatever you are thinking about friendship!
Leave Alex a voicemail!
Related to 5 New Ways to be Thinking About Friendship
Podcast Intro 00:02
Alrighty, gang. Here’s to nights that turn into mornings and friends that turn in family! Cheers!
Podcast Intro 00:18
Hello, hello and welcome to the Friendship IRL podcast. I’m your host, Alex Alexander. My friends, they would tell you, “I like to ask the hard questions.” You know who I am in the group? I’m the person that’s saying, “Okay, I’m gonna ask this question, but don’t feel like you have to answer it.”And now, I can be that friend for you too.
Alex Alexander 00:50
Hi, everyone! Man. Okay, here we go.
Alex Alexander 00:56
Welcome to the first episode! I can’t believe I’m doing this.
Alex Alexander 01:01
So let me tell you how I got here. Because why not? Why not? I mentioned in the trailer that my friends kept threatening to record me secretly, a variety of them. I also had friends who would say, we’d be talking and “They’d be like Alex, Alex, turn on video record, or open the voice memo on your phone.”
Alex Alexander 01:25
We’re in the middle of the conversation. I would totally lose my train of thought. I have all these half-recorded conversations.
Alex Alexander 01:34
And I gosh, I mean… that happened for months. For months with multiple friends. “People need to hear this.” And I just kept saying, “I think I have a couple of years until I start the podcast. I think I have a couple of years.”
Alex Alexander 01:48
Well, here we are. I don’t have a couple years.
Alex Alexander 01:51
My friend S who actually works with me. (She’s on my team.) I was telling her one day – we were on the phone, we do these epic calls. We say we’re not going to talk that long and then normally it’s two to three hours. We go on a walk and we chat. We talk about life. We talk about business, too, eventually. But we also, you know, try and keep those separate.
Alex Alexander 02:12
But I was telling her, “I’m just really struggling to record content. Which makes no sense because I can talk about this all day. But I turn on the camera. And I’m supposed to talk. And I just clam up. It doesn’t sound the same as when I am just casually having conversations with friends. It’s not the same.”
Alex Alexander 02:34
So I told her, “I think I’m just going to start hitting record on my phone. And I’ll use that as content.”
Alex Alexander 02:42
She goes, “Alex.”
Alex Alexander 02:44
I kept going, “I think I’ll just record these long clips. A few minutes and then I can cut them up. I can cut them up into like 30 seconds or one minute. That’ll be my social media content. That’s what I’ll post on Instagram and Tiktok.”
Alex Alexander 03:00
She’s like, “Alex…”
Alex Alexander 03:03
Me: “That’s it. That’s what I’m gonna do. I’m just gonna start recording myself to cut it up.”
Alex Alexander 03:08
She goes, “ALEX. Do you know what that is? That is a podcast!!”
Alex Alexander 03:14
Me : “No, no, I’m just filming.
Alex Alexander 03:16
She’s like, “if you don’t cut it up. It is a podcast. And if you record a podcast, then you could cut it up if you wanted or you could just release the entire thing for people to hear. That’s it. You could have candid conversations with friends, you should launch a podcast.
Alex Alexander 03:35
So she was right… I should launch a podcast.
Alex Alexander 03:38
Here I am.
Alex Alexander 03:39
So, thank you S. Thank you to all my other friends – You know who you are – for pushing me to get on here and share what you get to hear all the time, with everybody else.
Alex Alexander 03:52
Why? Why do I talk about community and friendship?
Alex Alexander 03:55
How did I get here? What is the point of listening to me?
Alex Alexander 04:00
Let’s start with I don’t consider myself an expert. I’m not a friendship expert.
Alex Alexander 04:06
I’m just a person who cares really deeply about friendship. And I’m sure I’ll do more episodes where I dive deeper into this.
Alex Alexander 04:15
But the basics are my friends are my support system. They’re what I have.
Alex Alexander 04:22
I did not grow up with a great family of origin situation. I still don’t have one today. And when I was younger, I didn’t really know any better. I didn’t know.
Alex Alexander 04:36
Maybe a year or so ago. I was talking to my sister. She’s much younger than me. Hi J! She was asking for my perspective on a story from our childhood. I’m telling her the story, and all of a sudden, she stops and she’s like, “Alex, that sounds so lonely that you had to do all of that by yourself, but like no one was there to help you.”
Alex Alexander 05:06
I never, I never really thought about it that way. But she’s right. My childhood was pretty lonely.
Alex Alexander 05:14
And I was surrounded by people – family, friends, but I wasn’t being honest about what was happening at home, or all the struggles I was having.
Alex Alexander 05:24
My mom passed away when I was 13. And like I said, my brother and sister are much younger. When I was 13, they were three and five.
Alex Alexander 05:34
So a lot of raising them fell on me, is the honest truth.
Alex Alexander 05:39
And I just didn’t tell anybody about that. I just pretended like I was a normal kid. But in reality, I went home and had a lot of stress I wasn’t telling anybody about.
Alex Alexander 05:55
When I got to high school, I really leaned into friendships. And I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time. And I definitely was not being honest with them. Those same friends from high school. Only in the past few years, have I been honest about what it was like when I went home.
Alex Alexander 06:16
And they had no idea.
Alex Alexander 06:18
They were shocked.
Alex Alexander 06:20
But I mean, I had them I went to their houses. And it was like a real respite for me.
Alex Alexander 06:26
Again, I didn’t really know that but it was.
Alex Alexander 06:29
Fast forward to college. And I really started to build this like bigger, broader support system. And for the first time in my life, I had people that when I told them, I was having a bad day or whatnot – They were there for me.
Alex Alexander 06:45
I didn’t have to take care of them, they took care of themselves. And I took care of myself. But when I needed them, they were able to show up for me. But those friends still didn’t even know what was happening. It wasn’t until after college, you know — with an extensive amount of therapy — that I started being honest about how vital these friendships were in my life.
Alex Alexander 07:09
How they were my main support system. I mean, being honest, to the extent of saying, “Hey, I know, everybody thinks everybody wants to go home for Christmas. But I don’t really want to go home, I’d rather go home with you to your family” that level of support system.
Alex Alexander 07:29
But the wild thing is, the more honest I got with them, the more they started to realize what a role they played for me and the more they started to realize what a role they were playing for each other.
Alex Alexander 07:39
And it really made everybody appreciate these friendships and think about friendship.
Alex Alexander 07:44
All the way through our late 20s. I mean, even today, in my low 30s. When myself or other friends tell people about the experiences we have in our friendship — about the group trips we take, about the level of support, the ways we share the ways we show up for each other — people look at us, like we have completely lost it.
Alex Alexander 08:08
Like, “Nooooooo. Nobody has that as an adult.”
Alex Alexander 08:14
But we do. We have it. It’s real.
Alex Alexander 08:17
And I had no idea what I was creating. But I created for myself, a support system unlike any other. I feel the most supported I’ve ever felt my entire life. And it’s all because of my friends.
Alex Alexander 08:34
So in your early 20s, you know, society’s like, “YEAH! Go hang out with your friends. Go do things with your friends. Go travel with your friends.”
Alex Alexander 08:41
You get into your late 30s. And suddenly, society’s like, “Shouldn’t you be focusing on your career?” “Why haven’t you find a romantic partner yet?” “You should probably move closer to your family so that when – not ‘if.’ Society we never say ‘if you have kids’ — when you have kids, you’ll be around them.”
Dive in Deeper : Your Friendships are as Important as Your Romantic Relationships
Alex Alexander 09:00
It wasn’t even people questioning whether or not I could have good friendships now. It’s just like, “WHY?” “Why invest your time in that?”
Alex Alexander 09:08
There was a period a couple of years ago when a bunch of our friends moved away. All of a sudden.
Alex Alexander 09:16
We have this big group of friends. I mean, I have other friends outside this group, and you’ll hear me talk about all of them. This group in particular, I always find really fascinating, and a bunch of people moved away.
Alex Alexander 09:26
I want to say five couples moved away all of a sudden.
Alex Alexander 09:31
Pretty back-to-back and I was really upset about it. I probably should go back and find I have a recording where I recorded myself crying into the microphone for myself to remember.
Alex Alexander 09:42
I was really low. And I realized “I’m going to be okay.” “I still have them I didn’t lose them. Our friendships have just changed.” “I built the support system for myself once if I want people that are local to call up to do stuff with, I can find them. I can find these people. I can build the support system I need.”
Alex Alexander 10:07
And that’s when I really started leaning into this. People have been telling me I should talk about community and friendship before that moment. But that was the moment where I really thought to myself, “Wow, I don’t think very many people can say that.”
Alex Alexander 10:22
Because I had no other option, as a kid, as an adult, I do things differently than most people do.
Alex Alexander 10:32
When you have no choice – You get creative. You put yourself out there. You take risks. I just think about these relationships – I’ve learned, I’ve learned – I think about them differently than most people.
Alex Alexander 10:43
But to feel like I could share, I really wanted to understand what was happening.
Alex Alexander 10:50
How could I categorize these types of friendships?
Alex Alexander 10:54
What was changing? Exactly.
Alex Alexander 10:56
I pretty much spent a year, a year and a half, obsessively thinking about friendships, to the point where I accidentally wrote a book that will be released in early 2023.
Alex Alexander 11:12
But I like really dove in trying to understand like, the exact nuances, and why I think about them differently. How I think about them differently.
Alex Alexander 11:25
What is happening with other people? Because obviously, other people are having different experiences than I am.
Alex Alexander 11:30
And I can’t wait to share that with you.
Alex Alexander 11:33
So real fast.
Alex Alexander 11:36
What does this podcast look like?
Alex Alexander 11:39
Well, today, I’m recording solo, which I will do from time to time. But I’m really hoping to just have everyday people on here, where we can talk about all sorts of intricacies and nuances of friendship. People of all ages, all experiences, walks of life. You know, everything from a new mom, new parents, trying to make friends. People who have moved cities. How we handle talking about money with our friends? What it feels like for a friendship breakup. Nothing is off limits; We’re gonna talk about it all.
Alex Alexander 12:17
Sometimes, we’ll probably talk about it multiple times. Because that’s the thing – the experience of friendship is so different for everyone and it should be. I’m not here to tell you “one way to have friends or be a friend.”
Alex Alexander 12:31
What I’m here to do is ask questions.
Alex Alexander 12:37
So you can decide what feels right for you. Build the right support system made up of all the people, friends, and family, and romantic partners and children.
Alex Alexander 12:50
Whatever that looks like for you, whatever feels right.
Alex Alexander 12:53
I’m hoping we can discuss it so you can figure it out. And then how that fits in your life. What are you doing on the daily? What small actions are you taking to keep these friendships alive? Because, well, I titled this episode, “The Five Things You Need to Know Before We Dive In.”
Alex Alexander 13:14
Let me give you those.
Alex Alexander 13:16
Number one, thinking as much about friendship and community is counterculture.
Alex Alexander 13:24
People will question you. They will question how you spend your time how you spend your resources, and why you’re prioritizing your friendships with your attention. Especially if you are in your late 20s and older. Firsthand experience – I can tell you people question me all the time.
Alex Alexander 13:46
I am a married woman. At some point, my husband Michael will be on this podcast, probably sooner rather than later. And, you know, society people tell me all the time, “That should be enough. Just have some kids, and you’ll be fine.” Culture prioritizes that American dream lifestyle, get married have 2.5 kids live in the suburbs. It doesn’t prioritize community involvement, connecting with people around you, creating a diverse support system. And that can include those familial and romantic relationships, but I say we go BEYOND that.
Alex Alexander 14:27
So just know when you’re putting yourself out there, people might question you as you implement this stuff in your life.
Alex Alexander 14:34
Number two, you’re already choosing what’s important to you.
Alex Alexander 14:38
How you spend your time. How you use your resources. Where you direct your attention. That is already showing what matters to you. And I just mean in general. How many hours a week are you watching TV? How many hours a week? Are you scrolling social media?
Alex Alexander 14:59
Gosh. I can’t believe I’m asked this question how many people online that you have never met, but feel like you are friends?… And yet you feel like you never have time to see your friends.
Alex Alexander 15:12
We are already prioritizing what matters to us daily. And I would venture to say a lot of people are investing their time, their resources, and their attention in places that someday at the end of life, are not going to have mattered.
Alex Alexander 15:30
Number three, your uniqueness is deserving of belonging.
Alex Alexander 15:35
Do you want me to repeat that, again?
Alex Alexander 15:37
Your uniqueness is deserving of belonging.
Alex Alexander 15:43
People enjoy your company. People want to spend time with you. People think you’re awesome. And people are interested in the things you have to say. You deserve all the joy and ease and support and adventure and laughs and encouragement and whatever else you need, from the people around you. And you have to accept that to move forward.
Alex Alexander 16:07
You are worthy of having great people in your life.
Alex Alexander 16:12
Number four, I’m going to tell you to DO LESS. To ASK LESS. Probably, honestly, to EXPECT A LITTLE LESS.
Alex Alexander 16:21
Let me explain. I think we’re doing too much, because we aren’t taking any time to reflect on how we’re acting in these relationships. We just feel like we “should.” We are shoulding on ourselves about how we “should show up,” about “what it looks like to be a good friend.” And in reality, if you just spent the time to consider what that friend needs, and then you did it, you would probably save a lot of time.
Alex Alexander 16:53
What are the ways you show up for people? What does your friend need?
Alex Alexander 17:01
I’m gonna give an example. So, let’s say you’re gonna throw your friend’s birthday party.
Alex Alexander 17:06
And you feel like you “should” throw this big party.
Alex Alexander 17:11
Right? If they’re going to ask you to throw a party, you should throw a big party.
Alex Alexander 17:13
Maybe that friend, though, isn’t really the person that likes a big party. Maybe what they would prefer is a small intimate dinner with two to three people.
Alex Alexander 17:23
So if you throw the big party, you’re going to do all this work, that really isn’t going to hit the mark. It’s not going to give your friend what would be the most impactful. If you just took a little bit of time to consider what is going to make the most impact you actually could do less work.
Alex Alexander 17:42
Because it’s a lot less work to plan a party, or to plan a dinner for two to three people than it is to plan a big party.
Alex Alexander 17:48
That’s one example. But it could also just be a friend, losing a grandparent or a loved one. And you feeling like you need to arrange this big thing for them. When in reality, they just want you to come over and sit beside them. They just want you to call or text them every day and say “I’m thinking of you. Please feel free to just not respond.” It’s a lot less effort, but it’s more on the mark.
Alex Alexander 18:15
Number five, all this friendship stuff is uncomfortable. It just is.
Alex Alexander 18:22
Here’s why. When you start actually thinking about friendship, you realize things are different. Things have changed. Things are changing. The ways you spend time with friends change with life milestones and moves and career shifts. And when that happens, it impacts you and your relationship. Now you know – now you are very aware — of the change. You are forced to sit with it and acknowledge that things are different.
Alex Alexander 18:52
Sometimes you might realize that you thought you were close to someone. And really you’re not.
Alex Alexander 18:58
Doing all this friendship stuff probably is going to force you to try new things. Put yourself out there. Experience some rejection is, I’d like to say maybe, but it’s not… it’s inevitable. You will experience rejection and you’ll just get used to it.
Alex Alexander 19:12
Sometimes you will try something like, I don’t know, maybe, going to a meetup group. Or a friend invites you to her friend’s party and you are in the middle of it and you realize it’s not the right fit for you. That’s okay.
Alex Alexander 19:29
But you did it.
Alex Alexander 19:30
I’m not here to tell you it’s not going to be uncomfortable because it is.
Alex Alexander 19:33
So one more time let me tell you the five things you got to know before we dive in full tilt talking about friendship and community.
Alex Alexander 19:42
ONE. This is counterculture.
Alex Alexander 19:44
TWO. You are already choosing what is important to you.
Alex Alexander 19:48
THREE. Your uniqueness is worthy of belonging.
Alex Alexander 19:51
FOUR. I’m probably going to tell you to do less, ask less and expect less.
Alex Alexander 19:58
FIVE. This stuff is uncomfortable.
Alex Alexander 20:01
My only hope is that this episode, and honestly every episode, creates more conversation about these important relationships and that can start between ‘you and me’ or perhaps between ‘you and your friends.’
Alex Alexander 20:15
Now, this is a new podcast, and I know we’re new friends.
Alex Alexander 20:21
But can you do me a favor? Can you leave me a review for Friendship IRL?
Alex Alexander 20:29
Thank you for listening to this episode of Friendship IRL. I am so honored to have these conversations with you. But don’t let the chat die here! Send me a voice message. I created a special website just to chat with you – alexalex.chat.
Alex Alexander 20:48
You can also find me on Instagram @itsalexalexander.
Alex Alexander 20:55
Or go ahead and leave a review wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts.
Alex Alexander 21:00
If you want to take this conversation a step further. Send this episode to a friend! Tell them you found it interesting. And use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out.
Alex Alexander 21:14
No need for a teary goodbye! I’ll be back with a new episode next week and we can all spend a little time thinking about friendship.