You’d be forgiven for thinking that it is always about me. I mean, that’s what stuff is like in blogland, right? Unless you have a blog that’s looking at specific issues or topics, it’s most likely a stream of consciousness open journal thingummybob and mine is no exception. (I’m so vain, you probably thought this blog was about me…)
Anyway, today I wanted to talk briefly about girlfriends. As a younger child and adolescent and – probably – in my twenties, I failed to see the attraction of girlfriends. As someone who was very badly bullied at school, I really didn’t trust girls. I mean, they were the ones who treated me terribly and made my life a misery and changed from day to day how they felt about me (usually: most hated or second most hated – boy, did I live for the days when I was only second!). Girls are kinda fickle. Or at least that’s what I thought.
Fast forward a few years. (Twenty – cough.) And I’ve somehow transformed over the years from “one of the lads” (British term for being one in a bunch of men… often used in a semi-complimentary way to describe females who hang out with men) to being one of those women (possibly I’m a bit too old to be called a girl any more – oh, sod it) who has a bunch of female friends as her main friendship group.
I’m not sure exactly when it changed… I think for a while when I was in the screwed up years, I purposely cultivated a big bunch of male friends, most of whom had some fairly dodgy ideas of what friendship was. (Mainly: shagging.) And I still love men – I really do. There’s something to be said for the kind of male camaraderie you get in a big bunch of men, but of course I only ever get to experience that as that female, one of the lads… so I’m sure that’s a slightly artificial situation. What I mean is, I have female friends who have come and gone, but some have really stood the test of time and I’m pretty sure will be friends for life.
Take my first friend: my sister. I mean, she’s completely aggravating in the way that only sisters can be, but she’s mine, and I’ve known her for the longest time. She’s the only one who knows almost as much about what it’s like to be us as I do. (I claim eldest rights here!) She’s crazy and talented and I don’t know if we’d be friends if we weren’t sisters because we are sooooo different, but we are a lifetime pair.
And my best friend: I’ve known her since we were in junior school and even though we live in different countries, we speak on Whatsapp at least every few days. She’s pretty much the nicest, kindest person in the whole entire world, and I won’t hear any different. Put it this way: I’m not the only person who thinks she’s my best friend. I think there are many who’ve claimed her, but I started calling her BFF a few years ago and I make sure those pretenders know it! I know she would do anything for me… I would do anything for her, but she’s so together that I can’t think she’d ever need any crappy help I’d give! She’s like the most serene, funny, gorgeous person in the world.
Thing is, I have a whole bunch of these girlfriends and together they are the most amazing bunch of women I can imagine. Even though they are a complete mishmash of people I’ve met over the years. Some through school, some through uni, some through work, and even some through friends of friends (that special thing where you see someone else’s friend and think, “I’ll have her!”). They are amazing women and as a tormented adolescent I couldn’t see that’s what women could be.
And the thing I have realised over time is that everyone has their sh*t. I mean, as a twenty-something, I used to get absolutely heartbroken when my female friends would let me down for social occasions and meet ups. I took them really seriously and I couldn’t believe it when people cancelled. It was a bit tantrumy, really. I’ve never been good at controlling my disappointment!
But as I’ve gotten older I realised that people wax and wane and you move closer together and further apart. I used to think it was like planets in elliptical orbits. But I think it’s probably less regular than that. Thing is, I’ve had my own sh*t and I’ve had my times of having to move away from people (infertility is a b*tch, amirite?) and it’s made me more forgiving of other people’s previous moving away. I am also OLD and I know that the good ones come back! And sometimes the good ones also stay away, but I can be philosophical about it and think, I enjoyed that while it lasted.
I guess what I’m saying is, I’m grateful for my girlfriends. Each and every one of them contributes something to my life. And increasingly (because I’ve always been a leetle bit self-interested, I admit) I have tried to look for ways I can contribute to theirs. I realised that everyone is fighting their own battles or experiencing their own joys and whilst it’s sometimes hard to understand where they’re at, as friends we can do our best to be there through the good times and bad.
Right now one of my friends is fighting cancer.
Right now my sister is fighting infertility and going through IVF.
Right now one of my friends is dealing with crippling anxiety.
Right now many of my American friends are in fear of what is to come under a Trump presidency.
I can do my bit and be there for them as best I can. And I’m just one in a big support network which spans their friendship groups and beyond.
But it’s not just for the bad stuff. Friends are there for the good stuff too, and sometimes we get so hung up on our own sh*t, or other people’s sh*t that we forget to celebrate the good things.
Right now three of my friends are planning weddings.
Right now one of my friends is in a new, exciting relationship.
Right now one of my friends has a great new job.
Right now one of my friends is drinking wine and wondering why I’m not there!
So here’s to being there through the bad times and the good! Cheers to girlfriends! (Non-alcoholic for me. One of my best friends made a special cheat to get me through my “Never drink alone” phase and would sit on the end of the phone and have a glass of wine whilst I had one my end in a different country, so I wouldn’t have to drink alone – now that’s friendship!)
Because friendship isn’t about supporting each other through the bad times, but also about laughing along with you through the good times. (When we think about it, we have more of those than we think!) I’ll be there for you (as the song goes) when the rain starts to fall… but I’ll also be there when you need someone to go wedding dress shopping with.
Just don’t blame me if you end up like this…
(I have terrible dress sense.)