Our first cognitive memories of friendships can date back to before pre-K, playing with your neighborhood mate in the snow or sharing crayons with your 6-year-old bestie.
We've been doing this whole friendship thing for some time now, and needless to say, we've come a long way since the "you told my secret!" days of elementary school, or the "my mom said I shouldn't hang out with you anymore" fights of middle school.
We realized, at a young age, to befriend people with whom we share commonalities; the girls befriended other girls, the boys other boys.
We worked through the cootie phase and into the middle and high school awarenesses that we should maintain friendships with people we enjoy, have fun with and who don't hurt our feelings. But, friendship wasn't as complicated then.
We weren't in this great big world full of diversity, romance, competitiveness and real sh*t, quite frankly.
Now, we have some friendships that come without maintenance and get us through the aforementioned crap that is life, and we also have friendships that take us on a roller coaster at times — not the Six Flags, hands-up kind.
Friendships in your 20s will bring with them some real "aha!" moments, both bad and good.
Below are five friendship epiphanies we all will have, at some point, in our 20s.
The "How Did I Ever Live My Life Without You?" Epiphany
It's that friend (or group of friends) you meet in your 20s and wonder how you've even come this far before knowing them. This friendship means the world to you because, unlike any you've had before, it feels easy, effortless and like it was destined to come about.
This person just gets you; the two of you have such a great time together, sharing everything from laughs, to the world's worst breakups, cancelled engagements, jobs offers, etc.
This epiphany is a great one, as you realize this person, this friendship, will be there for life, without question.
Doesn't it feel good to have something constant in a world so ever-changing and busy?
A friendship like this is formulated in your key years entering adulthood, when you know what you want and need out of friend, and don't have the time to "work" at it.
Hang on to the person who comes to mind reading this because if you questioned how you ever lived without that person to begin with, I hardly imagine you'd want to see a life without him or her now.
The "Friendship Isn't Easy But It's Damn Important" Epiphany
Unlike the actual saint of a friend mentioned above, there are some friendships that do require a lot of effort to maintain, sustain and enjoy even.
We may not have seen it in high school or our early years of college, but as we enter adulthood and get busier with each passing year or email sent, we realize some friendships feel more like work than play.
Some friends are less willing to compromise on plans, constantly making us feel annoyed or angry, and sometimes, say all the wrong things.
But, that's when we have the epiphany: "Damn, this friendship is kinda hard, but it's important to me so I will continue on my end."
We see this a lot when we graduate from college and try to keep in touch with old friends or roommates, and are not always met with the same effort on the other end.
This may make us want to throw our phones and say, "Screw it, I'm done," but we come to the realization we are willing to put in the time and effort because this friendship has meant a lot to us and we want to hold onto it.
After the realization, this friendship even begins to feel like less work because we've already established this is the way it is, and we accept it. It's a good epiphany, even if it doesn't seem so.
The "This Friendship Is Not Healthy and Should End" Epiphany
As the title alludes, not all friendships that require a little work should be kept and coddled. Some friendships are toxic, and we may not realize until we are more settled in our adult lives.
Before we had jobs, serious relationships or even the social awareness and knowledge that there are different types of friendships in our lives, we accepted friendship from just about anyone.
If someone was "nice" and hung out with us frequently, we were friends! But, now, as we begin to see the way of the world and grow into our big kid britches, we notice habits a certain friendship has, and realize it's not what we want anymore.
From the friend who isn't there when you need him or her but always expects you to be, to the friend who's constantly gossiping and malicious (even about you), some friendships just need to end.
Friendships where you feel put down, insufficient, nervous or even put off are not healthy to keep around as you enter a phase of your life where growth and stability becomes top priority.
There's no easy way to end a friendship; you can't simply send a pseudo break-up text or tweet, #done.
But, if the friendship truly is unhealthy, begin by distancing yourself, and eventually, the patterns of contact with one another will dissolve.
This realization will improve not only your well-being (surround yourself with good and you will feel good), but also will show you just how important it is to follow your gut and act on intuitions.
The "It's Okay To Have Solely Social Friendships" Epiphany
I don't know what it is about our generation that causes these high levels of social anxiety, but I have seen that we are often so nervous to offend people or act inappropriately, we sometimes create "rules" for no reason at all.
We don't want to be the girl who only texts certain people on Friday nights because it could come across as "rude," or the guy who sends out mass "let's get f*cked up" texts to people he doesn't see often because it's "too weird."
There's a point we reach in our 20s, however, where we finally have the epiphany that it is 100 percent acceptable to have friends we know on solely a social level. Going-out gals and drinking buddies are a more-than-real thing.
Eventually, we realize it's not wrong to only text said friends on nights when we're looking for a party or want a bigger bar crew because they are probably looking for just the same.
Of course, be aware of their responses to your party invites.
If people hit you with, "Why do you only text me when you're going out," or "Dude, you only wanna chill if you're looking to party," maybe they're looking for more out of the friendship than just social events.
But, a lot of 20-somethings are so on their own agendas, they don't mind having friends who act as their night-out alliances.
Before, we would tread lightly, afraid to be that friend, always looking for social things to do, but as we leave college and enter life, we can see everyone wants to have a good time when they clock out, and friendships on a social level are a great thing. Cheers to that!
The "This Friendship Is Really Somethin' Else" Epiphany
Friendship is friendship -- how complex can it be? You like each other, hang out, wingman together, share wine and call it a day… or so we thought.
But, we all have that one friendship in our 20s that is so unlike the others before it, it brings about an epiphany, opening us up to the new comrade experience in which we find ourselves.
Maybe this friendship is unique because you realize you have utterly nothing in common with the person, but feel an unmistakeable kinship toward him or her, regardless.
Or, maybe, you two barely even hang out, but are in constant communication virtually or otherwise.
Whatever makes for the unique dynamic of you and your more interesting mate will eventually lead to the realization, "Damn, this friendship is super odd," in the best of ways, of course!
This is wonderful because it shows how open the human mind and soul can be to new or different people, and proves to us that what we know as engrained or common doesn't encompass all that we enjoy.
We may have multiple friends or friendships like this during young adulthood.
After the initial epiphany that you can share close relationships with people you interact with in completely different ways from your other friends, you will find you can be more drawn to that in the future.
So, instead of having friendships only with girls who look like they could have been your pledge sisters, or guys who like the same teams as you do, you find yourself "bro-ing out" with various types of friends.
This one definitely makes for a more exciting night out, too.
Whichever major realizations you have during young adulthood that pertain to friends will also act as metaphors, parallel to other life experiences.
That is why having and recognizing these epiphanies is helpful as we work toward being our best selves.
From feeling empowered after you end an unhealthy friendship to feeling more open-minded after realizing a friendship is completely out of your comfort zone, friendship acts like a mirror in ways. It shows us more about ourselves than we often acknowledge.
So, when these "aha!" moments in our friendships happen, they will guide us in future matters, even if the foreseeable situation has nothing to do with a former roommate or new best bud.