Friendships In Your Early 20s and HS
Friendships, especially those in your early 20s, are hard. You just recently graduated college, you might be moving to a new city, your friends from college are scattered around the country starting their new jobs, you’re pursuing your career.
It’s a lot to handle: there are so many moving parts that it’s hard to keep it all straight sometimes. It takes an active effort to ensure that you see your friends or make time to catch up with them, let alone if they live in another city. Add a chronic illness to the mix, and things can very quickly become overwhelming.
Sometimes my friends can do things I can't
Living with HS for me means that sometimes there are things that my friends do that I cannot. If I am having a bad flare day, I might be extra tired and will not have the bandwidth to go out for happy hour drinks after work. I might have to leave an unscheduled late night hang out to make it home in time to inject Humira.
My flares might make it more difficult and more painful for me to dance at an event or a club. These difficulties that come with HS can make navigating friendships more complex – HS can sometimes mean that you simply can’t participate in a get together with your friends, even though your schedule can technically allow it. As a result, it is far too easy to feel left out or feel less close to your friends.
Feeling comfortable talking about my HS
As I have gotten more comfortable with talking about HS with others, I realized that friendships do not have to make you feel this way. While my friends who do not have HS nor another form of chronic illness do not fully understand what my day to day experience is like, they can ensure that they accommodate me and take it into account.
It took a while to be able to feel comfortable enough to explain to my friends what HS is and how it can impact me and my body. I explained that sometimes the condition can cause limitations, as well as what they could do to ensure that I never felt left out.
Open and honest communication is critical
Avoiding those feelings can look different for various people. For me, that looks like friends not taking it personally if I need to reschedule because I have a flare and them being willing to move whatever we had planned on doing to another date instead of canceling altogether.
It can also mean that we have to change up the activity that we originally planned on doing – for example, instead of doing archery, we do something that involves less arm movement for me, like going to get coffee at a cafe or going to the park to read or have a picnic. Open and honest communication is critical to ensuring that everyone in the friendship, and not just myself, feels like their needs are supported.
Finding my true friends
This has not always worked with every single friend. Some people are not willing to change plans or don’t want to deal with being flexible with me while also handling their busy lives.
Over time, I have learned to be okay with that. It’s helped me identify who my true friends are, and which people are worth putting my time and energy into during a hectic time for my personal and professional life.
And ultimately, isn’t that what your early 20s are supposed to be about anyway?
Where did you first hear about hidradenitis suppurativa?