Friday, 8 January 2016

Figuring it out 002 - On Valuing Friendships


*Takes up the mic* this one is dedicated to all my chums out there! You know who you are.

This post is about how friendship truly is the greatest thing. Innovative stuff I know. Yes, it may seem very obvious, but recently I have been considering how easy it is to take friendship for granted and not see how significant it is in our lives. Or at least, I have been worried that I do this and I thought there might be some of you who could relate.

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Maire and I, 2011

I read a lot about romantic relationships, but not nearly as much about the other relationships we develop over the years. It is assumed that romantic relationships are more intense, more deeply felt, and I don’t think that is always the case. When you lose a friend the sense of grief you feel can be similar to losing a boyfriend or girlfriend.  You can feel love for a friend that eclipses that of a lover.

It’s easy to take friendship for granted. It’s that constant thing in your life, the people you sit at lunch with, go to the pub with, sometimes live with. It doesn’t necessarily have the intense quality of the start of a romantic entanglement, so we see it as something ‘everyday’. This means we perhaps don't put all of our efforts into it, to keep things interesting, go on friend dates, ask them how they are generally. 

Friendship can be intense and ridiculous, and a good friend can immeasurably improve your life. My friend Luke and I bonded when I posted something on tumblr, lamenting my inability to keep up with the difficulty of university assignments, he responded and came round to my flat with a pot of tea and a set of build a burger sweets, truly the stuff of a romantic comedy (except in a context of a totally platonic, brother and sister style dynamic). As a result, we’ve become a huge part of each other’s lives, and I’ve learnt a lot from his generosity, enthusiasm and intelligence. I can always count on him to build me up and give me the most invigorating, academic theories on Lady Gaga’s new album.

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Bradley, Luke, Dan and Maire and I, 2015

Friends are the people who you grow up with, they see the best parts of you and the worst, and you see each other grow not just in numbers but as people. Often you lose touch with schoolfriends, but that doesn’t make their impact on your life any less significant. I’ve known Emily and Lucy since I was in early secondary school, and we’ve truly been through some embarrassing haircuts, crushes and mood swings together. I’ve seen them grow into kind, strong, successful, beautiful people and we’re just as close now as we were then. It is those people who you can talk to frankly and honestly, even when you’re sober, sitting on the floor in one of your houses at 3am in the morning eating pasta and cheese, just talking about your fears for the future, and knowing that you’re always going to have those people to talk to when things get tough.

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Lucy, Emily and me in Sedona USA, 2015

Friends can help you see new perspectives. Often we are attracted to people romantically and platonically due to the similarities we perceive in them with ourselves, but some of the best friendships I’ve had have been with people with very different personalities. Laila, who I met through blogging, is incredibly confident, with her own business and lots of different hobbies. We don’t really agree on many things but because of that she’s helped me see totally different perspectives and opened my mind a bit. She’s sort of my Tigger if I were Eeyore, always seeing the good in things and with a total love of life, something I have really learnt from.  My other friend Maire is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful people I know, and certainly not someone who sugar coats what she says. Having those friends who are absolutely honest with you is so valuable.

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Jess, Laila and I, 2015

Friends make you cry with laughter, and see the humour in so many things. My chum Dan often has me in hysterical laughter, even when he's not actually there and I'm just imagining something ridiculous he's said whilst I'm walking to work in the morning. When I first met him I often didn't really get his sense of humour, but a few years down the line I'll see something funny and think of how hilarious he'd find it too. Likewise, I've spend many school lunchtimes rolling around the school field in paroxysms of laughter with Lucy, who is undoubtedly one of the funniest people I know.

I read something on twitter the other day from twitter user Teddy Bless: ‘pursue friendships so strong that they make you raise your standards in romantic relationships.’ This is such an interesting concept to me, because many of the qualities of friendship are similar to the ones you would hope for from romance. Do your friends listen to you, are they there for you, can you talk to them openly and honestly? Do they make you laugh and generally just make your life that bit better?  In many ways, cultivating strong friendships is more important than finding romantic relationships, because it helps you understand what qualities you look to in people, and indeed, how to be good, kind and compassionate, how to be there for someone and how to have deep, meaningful conversations.  As young people, many things are going to change over the next few years for my pals and I, but one thing should remain constant, and that is the presence of us in each other’s lives. That’s something to be cherished and appreciated.

I want to make a real effort in 2016 to become a better friend. To text first, make plans, meet up for coffee with people who have their own lives going on and who I haven't seen in a while, check up on people, take ridiculously flattering candid photos of them, make them as many cups of tea as they've made me in the past. Not everyone has the opportunity to make strong friends, some people get lost along the way and end up with the wrong people, and some are isolated for whatever reason. It's so important to value the friends who are always on the end of the phone, who are dedicated to favouriting your lamest tweets. There isn't one type of love out there, it extends to so many different parts of our lives. 

And to play us out, this extremely relevant music video by Kris Jenner...


Other reading:

This post is inspired by my pal Laila's post on Friends
Anna from By Her Mirror on Friendship Breakups


Twitter/Instagram/Bloglovin

6 comments :

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