What Friendship Means in 2021
My friendships have always ebbed and flowed with each arrival into a new decade.
The formula for each successful friendship heavily relies on what I need, or who I am, at the time. Let me explain.
In my teens I needed acceptance. I needed to be told I fitted in, part of the crew and that in no way did I stand out.
In my 20s, however, I sought out people who did stand out because I didn’t want to follow the crowd. Those late night 3am tearful phone calls about breakups. Drunken nights that ended in dodgy kebabs and insouciant conversations about the future.
I wanted the flash-in-the-pan types of friendship that fitted into my changing relationship status.
In my 30s I crave deep connections. I want to know when I phone with a dilemma, an all encompassing “holy crap this is happening” type of dilemma, that the advice I receive is backed up by experience and not quotes from Cosmopolitan. Because, let’s face it, the stakes are a lot higher.
I wanted to know that if I lost everything I’d still have friends. I want to know they don’t want to leave me for someone who had their shit together.
Ultimately I wanted to find friends who would hold my hand at a parents funeral. I know that sounds depressing; but it’s something that you suddenly become aware of the older you get.
In the words of Coldplay…
“Nobody said it was easy/No one ever said it would be this hard” and when you look at life today this couldn’t ring more true. I’m annoyed that that quote is a good one for this because I’m not sure I really like Coldplay…anyway…
Everything seems like a constant balancing act of which you are the main circus performer, top hat an’ all. “Roll-up roll-up”, you say, “come and offload your woes to me…”. Often, you are the person comforting everyone else; whether it’s your children who didn’t get invited to someone’s birthday party, your partner who didn’t get the promotion they were hoping for, your sibling going through a breakup.
You are the shoulders to burden the weight of everyone else’s upset. The circus is coming to town.
The problem isn’t important; it’s knowing you’re not alone in finding a solution.
This is when you need your friends. Your cheerleaders/your team/your tribe/your BFF4Eva – whatever you want to call them – they are the people that not only understand what is going on in your life but also support you when you need it most.
In life, your friendships are an integral part of your support system
They’re the ones that understand the 3am mind fuzz, when sleep seems a million miles away and all you can think of is your endless to-do list.
They’re the ones that don’t get annoyed at last minute Zoom coffee-date cancellations, because they understand what it’s like to have to fit a thousand things into a day and realise that as nice as carrot cake and a moan sound, today is just not the day. They empathise with you when the people in your life contradict your decision-making or question your ideas or skills and give you terrible, condescending advice – they’ve been there too.
And yet at times when you’re flying high, things might not be going right for them. They might feel, dare I say it…jealous? But good friends will hide that jealousy and still be the loudest ones to cheer you on.
Your cheerleaders can be found anywhere
They can be found at networking groups, like Women Who Do. They can be found online in Facebook groups, or in a book club or at the gym. They can be found through a cycling club or a Twitter hour.
Your support system is just as valuable in the virtual world as they are in reality (I mean…now more than ever we’ve established this as fact!)
What’s important is that you find them and you lean on them for support, advice and general spirit-boosting whenever you need it, because you 100% deserve someone in your corner, cheering you on and telling you how damn awesome you are (possibly with a bit of Meghan Trainor on in the background).
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