Yesterday was my 35th birthday. For a present that money can’t buy, I was surprised with a Zoom call filled with all of my closest friends (including my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew). At 9pm ET on a Thursday night during a global pandemic, 22 people dropped their plans and joined for a virtual birthday toast - some staying online for nearly three hours!
While it made for a bit of a slow day at work on Friday, I would trade the fuzzy head a million times in a row for the gratitude I felt during and after the call. As a 35-year-old does, I began reflecting on the group of people - many of whom I’ve known for 30 of my 35 years - and how lucky I’ve been to call them close friends.
My sister once relayed a quote to me from an entrepreneur discussing the grind of having no money while starting a business. It said something to the effect of: “I was broke. Not poor, but broke.” On the surface, that might not make sense, but the difference between being broke and poor is relationships.
No matter what happens in my life, I will always have that support system of the 20+ people on the call. I could lose my job, go bankrupt, get divorced, become ill, lose a relative, fall on hard times, or experience any other negative life event, but I’d always be able to pick up the phone and call any one of them.
Because of the amazing, smart, and caring people they are, I’d be able to fall back on a place to stay, a person to talk to, or a shoulder to cry on - with no questions asked or judgment passed.
This is the immense value of friendship. When we’re growing up in grade school, we put heavy importance on making friends. This probably stems from primal instincts - we want validation that the tribe accepts us, we are motivated by popularity, and we’re social creatures. But building these friendships is so much more important than having a teammate on the soccer field or buddies on the play structure. If you’re fortunate to keep lasting friendships, you’ll end up with a bottomless resource of knowledge, experiences and support.
This highlights another huge privilege and advantage I have by being well-educated. We as a society generally think that education is important so that people can read and write and solve triangles, but the social aspect of structured education is arguably more important for long-term success. Without going to school, or being fortunate enough to play sports, it would be nearly impossible for a child to establish the same deep relationships that I did. This is a blessing I don’t take for granted for a second, and moments like last night remind me what a great job my parents did in steering me (directly or indirectly) towards such nice friends.
Once again, Covid prevented a traditional birthday party from occurring, but being able to see decades of bonds and memories all on the screen at once, made 35 a birthday I’ll never forget. I hope you’re all lucky enough to have friendships (and family relationships) that make you feel just as grateful!
Thanks for reading,