There is something extra special about friendships made at your first job or jobs in your 20s.
I’m a firm believer your 20s are some of the most critically formative years, even though at the time I thought I was fully formed, so to speak.
The friends I made working during college and after I graduated were more than my work family. These people helped create the foundation of my adulthood. They were instrumental in putting me on the path to who I am today. Because of all of this there is a bond we have that I won’t have with others.
I have friends from various time periods of my life—from childhood to today, where I’m still making friends. I don’t want to disparage the friendships I have made post age 30 or pre-20 because so many of those are just as special.
In my 20s I still had a lot of growing up to do, a lot of boundaries to figure out, and a lot of fun to share with these people.
Today I wonder if those freshly out of college will create a similar bond to the ones I have with Kele, Penny, Patty, Stephanie and others. How can they when they are working remotely? How do you make friendships when you only know someone as a face on a computer screen?
You can fake it on a Zoom call if you are tired, frustrated, angry, even excited, or happy. You can hide your emotions and just get through the call. In the office, though, it’s near impossible to be even keeled for eight or more hours. This is when people get to know you—when you allow them to share your highs and lows.
It’s about going out to lunch and for drinks at the end of the day; seeing people outside of work and talking about something other than the job.
It’s about learning how to socialize, how to interact with people of dissimilar backgrounds, various ages, and different skill levels. It can take some time to get used to people essentially being in your space 40 hours a week or more. These are important aspects of adulting.
I can’t imagine starting my career being isolated; or having any part of my education being virtual.
Don’t get me wrong, I love not working in an office. I was doing it long before the pandemic hit. I can’t imagine ever working in an office again; nor do I intend to.
But if I were to ask my twentysomething self: Hey, do you want to work at home your entire career and not have the friends you will have in your 50s? I would tell her: Go to the office. There is so much to learn besides how to do your job. There is so much more to work than work. There are so many experiences at the office and outside of it that will help make you be you. You will create so many life-long memories that you won’t have if you stay at your home office. Most important, the friends you make will be some of the most special people for your entire life.
It makes me sad to think the young remote workers of today won’t forge the lifelong bonds with colleagues like I did.