Daily musings: on friendship
Navigating your twenties sure ain’t easy. I mean, it’s such a weird period of your life. Exciting, yes, spontaneous, very much so, but everything changes at breakneck speed and it can be difficult to keep up. People are doing drastically different things in their twenties. During your teens, everyone is pretty much in the same boat, cruising through the comfort of the education system without thinking too much about what dark abyss lies waiting ahead. Not only do you find out more about yourself as you make the bumpy transition from acne-prone adolescent to independent, starstruck adult, but you learn more about the significance of the relationships with those around you – particularly your friends. Then you realise that your friends are actually part of you, and you wouldn’t necessarily be who you are today without them. Mind-blowing. This is the case with most relationships. Everyone that comes into your life shapes you in some way or another, even if you don’t realise. But friends…in my opinion friends are the glue holding your life together, the most significant relationships one forms during a lifetime. There are books and documentaries and studies centred around the science of true love, and we place of lot of importance on romantic relationships, but what about friendships? Friendships can be just as challenging, require just as much effort and give us just as much if not more joy. At twenty-five years old, I’m aware of how the nature of friendship changes over time. But first and foremost, the way that we become friends with someone in the first place is just so gloriously and crazily haphazard. It’s always the same. Chance encounters. You don’t make decisions about who you meet and who you get on with, it just happens. A connection forms, and before you know it you’re calling them a friend without even realising at what point you felt like they became closer than just a mere acquaintance. I suppose we talk about friends in our youth as friends of convenience. The people we meet at school, the kids of the adults our parents are friends with. We’re sort of thrown together with them, it’s nice having them around, but ultimately when we grow up we realise that the connections we formed were not the strongest. When you think about it, though, don’t all friendships start off as friendships of convenience? When we get older, we meet people at work, we meet people at university, and sometimes these friendships blossom into some of the best friendships, but ultimately they start off just as any other. If it’s not convenience, it’s still a chance encounter, right? You meet someone through a friend. But even having that friend is a chance encounter. In short, it’s all incidental. And that’s crazy. It just goes to show that humans can be flung into virtually any scenario and will make the best of that scenario. We’re all actually just a bunch of optimists in a world that a lot of us see as too far gone. But I digress. I suppose the whole point is that you can meet a huge variety of people who you easily get on with, but the desire to keep that bond alive – through trust, communication and adventure – is what changes things. I used to think friends were forever, and I do still believe that there are friendships worth fighting for, but an important thing that you learn as you get older is how to set boundaries, and how to know the difference between bad decisions and unhealthy attitudes. Everyone is flawed – that goes without saying – and everyone makes bad decisions, but some people will display patterns of behaviour that ultimately are damaging for their relationships and they either don’t realise it, or don’t care. We’re always changing, and sometimes you can grow with your friends, or you can grow out of your friends. That’s totally fine. Usually it’s a natural process, and not necessarily upsetting. If someone does you dirty, though, or has been communicated to and hasn’t listened, there are only so many times you can let something like that slide. Only you know your own boundaries, and friends aren’t exempt from these just because they’re your friends. (In fact, no-one is exempt. Set boundaries. Be a harsh parental figure. Okay, maybe not, but you get my drift.) The good thing (and I suppose the reason why some people think friendships are easier to handle than relationships) is that you don’t have to have just one friend, you can have loads. What a deal!! Or maybe even just three or four. All of those friendships will be slightly different. Relationships are so strenuous because you’ve committed to one person, committed to their whole person, and often their legacy is spread over all areas of your life. It’s kind of an unspoken rule that you eventually bring them into your family, you may bring them into your home – they penetrate all aspects. It is, when you think about it, a lot of pressure. You can handle friendships, on the other hand, exactly as you wish. They can be as deep as they need to be. For the most part it’s pretty chilled, and it shouldn’t stressful. So I don’t know about you guys, but I honestly feel like my friends are the most important aspect of my life. If your friends are important to you, tell them. You know that saying? ‘It’s not about where you are but who you’re with.’ I couldn’t agree more. Friends for a good time, friends for distracting you from shit that you just need a break from. Friends for spilling your secrets to, friends for light-heartedness and frivolity. Friends for exploring different places with. Friends for talking to for hours about the most random stuff. Friends for support, friends for advice, friends for a well-deserved kick up the backside. Friends who don’t understand your decisions, but who have committed to being there if anything goes wrong. Friends who you don’t see for years, but when you meet them it’s like nothing has changed. Friends who you see everyday. Friends who you’re so comfortable with that you know them better than you know yourself. Friends who are nothing like you, but you like them anyway. Friends who become family. Friends who you share very specific, random memories with. Friends who save your life. Friends who you never expected to be friends with. Friends who make life worth living.