“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” ― Elisabeth Foley
I wish I knew where that came from, but it feeds into a train of thought I’ve been having for quite some time recently.
Lately a close friend revealed to me her quest to “be more grown up”, which meant not begrudging people for their choices. It was terribly mature, and made my feel incredibly guilty for my grudge-holding ways. Whether or not it effects you, it’s all to easy to have an opinion on someone’s decision to leave their job, kiss somebody or dye their hair – especially when you’re so far removed from the situation all there is for you to do is make a judgement.
There have been a myriad of events that have brought me to reflect on but between this conversation with one of my closest friends, and reading Sali Hughes’s “The Importance of Maintaining A Girl Gang” on The Pool recently, saw this come to a head in, well, my head.
Friendships in your twenties take a lot more work than they used to. No longer are we sitting side-by-side in classrooms, or did an administrative circumstance put us in the same lecture hall. Now; between trying to nurture careers, burgeoning romance, personal hygiene, a sensible diet and a passable level of fitness – friendships take far more conscious effort than they did previously and it’s all to easy to get blindsided.
I’m not a naturally social person. Shock horror I know, this from the girl who’s been on Twitter six years. I keep a small network of friends, not necessarily out of choice, but because I’ve not had the emotional bandwidth for many. Large social situations overwhelm me, and busy periods of socialising and goings-on are punctuated with just as much alone-time sessions and wind-down time.
That’s where they come in, no matter how widespread or close-knit, it’s when the squad, gang, crew, pack, spring into action. Whether it’s advice on banking, recommendations for a good lady doctor or swapping nightmare colleague stories – while I’ve struggled for years with staying “on” in social situations, quality time with The Girls is what recharges me so that I return home, past midnight, throat horse, head cleared and soul fulfilled.
But I had to make intentional effort to reach out and speak up, and to be honest I still don’t think I have the knack for it. I’m better than I was, I’d like to hope no-body is perfect at this sort of thing, that we’re all learning how to be each other’s friends. To know what’s radio silence and what’s a busy signal. What’s a rough time in work and a hard time at home. To know how long to leave a “hello, I’m thinking of you” and when it’s not too late to say “I know it’s been a while but …”
However, back to the complexities of these friendships. No-one really tells you how tough they can be. How they can slip through your fingers and get away from you. How we have to account for the fact we’re not all at the same life stages and have grown accustom to different lifestyles and we may not agree on everything anymore. How you grow weary of the same childish games and start to wonder if all you have in common is the fact you’ve known each other so long. With time limited, we become selective with our time, and some friendships fade into the background and you adopt something of a quality over quantity strategy.
We need Our Girls to tell us when we are crazy, and to tell us when we’re not. Our Girls know an insane amount of detail about us, even if we don’t tell them. I never cease to be amazed by the things my closest friends know about me, as if by instinct. I need mine to bring me back down to earth. It might not seem it on the outside, but a few hours in the real world out of my own head does me no end of good. And here I thought I was a hermit.