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Jennifer Aniston took a walk down memory lane and reassured the world that she’s just like us. No, not because of her perfect skin, that coveted, to-die-for hair, or her generous helping of Friends residuals. Rather, she misses the former sitcom too. A lot. And not just for the obvious reasons but, also because it’s where she started to believe in herself.

“I started to find my confidence when I was on Friends, for sure,” Aniston told InStyle, in honour of the magazine’s 25th anniversary issue, a mag she’s covered seven times. “In a way, being on that show was the ultimate trust exercise. There was comfort in numbers there, so we all held each other up. I miss a lot about that time. Having a job that was absolute, pure joy. I miss getting to be with people I love massively and respect beyond words. So, yes, these days I’m super nostalgic. Anything can make me go, ‘Aww.'”

Aniston likened all her InStyle covers to “leafing through a yearbook,” describing it “surreal and cool to have these little memory markers” of her career. And before Friends became the phenomenon it became (and continues to be), the cast truly had no idea what was in store for them. “When Friends began [in 1994], we were all so wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. We couldn’t believe what was happening, and we had no idea what was coming. On Instagram, Courteney [Cox] recently posted an old photo of all of us on a jet together before the show had even aired. I just remember not understanding that this was my life. The level of gratitude, my god.”

When Jennifer looks back on the ’90s, she admitted it makes her “nostalgic,” for those “simpler times” when “there was a sense of safety in the world.” She added: “We weren’t exposed to as much as we are now. And even if there was just as much shit going on, we didn’t necessarily have it in our faces 24/7. It was lighter. There was a lot more human connection.”

 

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“Looking back on all seven of my InStyle covers is almost like leafing through a yearbook. It’s surreal and cool to have these little memory markers of your career. I pretty much grew up in this business in front of everyone, and listen, puberty is awkward—just try and do it all publicly,” says Jennifer Aniston in our 25th anniversary issue. “It’s taken me this long to know what I’m capable of. I didn’t always know. I think I used to put a lot of that in the hands of other people. Now I’m taking ownership of it. And you know what? It feels really good.” Read her full story at the link in bio. #InStyle25 | Photographed by @michaelthompsonstudio; Styled by @karlawelchstylist

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And because of how public Jen’s life has become (and, yes, continues to be), it’s no wonder she still aims to keep things simple. “It’s funny because when you’re in your 20s, you’re on the road to this unnamed destination that you think you’re going to, but I don’t know if you ever actually reach it. Time just continues on like a speeding bullet,” she said. “When you get older, though, there’s a little bit more of enjoying the here and now. I’d like to slow everything down. Smelling the roses is an understatement — I want to watch them grow. And, yes, I actually have roses and went outside to smell them this morning.”

Now, Aniston is in a much calmer place, and is enjoying where she’s at in her career. “These days I’m most ambitious for peace. And I’m ambitious for creative fulfillment. … I’m at a place now where I actually feel like I’ve grown up and entered into who I am creatively. It’s taken me this long to know what I’m capable of. I didn’t always know. I think I used to put a lot of that in the hands of other people. Now I’m taking ownership of it. And you know what? It feels really good.”

When asked to describe herself in three words then and now, Aniston called 1996 Jen “sweet, naive and young,” while today’s Jen is “strong, knowing and excited.” That’s quite the evolution, something everyone should want to be.

But hearing one of the Friends cast members looking back at that glorious time makes us believe a reunion — in some form — isn’t completely out of the question. Heck, it’s not the first time Jen’s been game. So, while it’s not a sure thing, we still can’t help but feel a little excited.