Friendship. A simple word that means so much. When I look back over my 23 years I couldn’t possibly tell you how many friends I have made over that time. Some of them were my friends for a year while we had a subject together, others I had for a few years while I lived interstate, some were friends for a short time when we studied together overseas. There are also a special few that have lasted a very long time.
From my own personal experience, I can say that friendships definitely come and go. They are each a little lesson relevant to a particular part of my life. My friend once told me a story about a guy she was seeing. He ended up being a little bit nasty but she says to this day that if it wasn’t for him that there is no way she would have got her driver’s licence. He would always encourage her to drive and if that’s the only thing she got out of the relationship then I guess he definitely came along for a reason.
Friendship can be a truly beautiful thing. It can provide an opportunity for you to share your thoughts, someone to share your time with, someone to laugh with, someone to provide support, someone to talk to when you think that no one else could possibly understand.
For one reason or another, sometimes friendships come to an end. It isn’t necessarily because anything big or bad happened. Sometimes you just grow apart. I believe that a big reason that some of the friendships I have had in the past didn’t last as long were the circumstances in which they were made. Let’s go back to primary school for a second. For those of you that don’t know, I moved around quite a bit as a kid (I attended three primary schools just to put it into perspective). The friendships I made in those years didn’t really last long because I would often move. It was fun to write letters at the start but as time went on our lives just changed too much and it was hard to keep in touch. There are very few friendships I have maintained from that period of my life.
I went to an all girls high school. I personally really enjoyed my high school experience. I would be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with friendships though. I was always in a group of some description. I had my friends in class, my friends in band (yes I was in the school band), friends in dance, friends in debating and my friends that I sat with at lunch. I was never really selective of who I gave my time to. I have always been able to make conversation with just about anyone. At times I was questioned as to why I hung out with particular people because they were “losers”. To me though they weren’t. Some of the kindest and funniest people I have met were apparently a “losers” by somebody else’s standard.
As cliché as it may sound I truly believe that if people are your “friends” then they won’t peer pressure to do things that you don’t want to do. For me that was a massive barrier to get over in high school. Being one of the very few people that didn’t drink at 18th birthdays (pineapple juice all the way) I was often isolated as the person that wasn’t fun because she didn’t drink. I stayed in a lot of friendships that didn’t really serve me for a while just out of convenience.
After year 12 and going into my first year of university I started to be a bit more picky with the people I wanted to be friends with. I was the only one in my friendship group that went to Deakin so I naturally had to make some friends at uni if I had any chance of making it through the degree with my sanity (or at least some of it). At the time I was also working at Target and had been since year 10. I was working quite a bit so my friends at work became a little family. The actual job itself drove me crazy but the friends I had there actually made me semi excited to go to work. The Friday night catch ups with everyone after work at the Pancake Parlour and the numerous Saturday nights at Howler after we all finished work at eight o’clock are times I will always look back and smile on. The time mannequins fell on our heads and the countless rants about customers brought so much laughter.
In the early years of uni I maintained contact with most of my friends from school but as time went on I distanced myself. I started to realise that some of those friendships were just because of “association.” Conceptually this was a difficult thing to understand in the beginning. I couldn’t wrap my head around how I could be friends with someone for five years in high school and suddenly have absolutely nothing to really talk about it. Were we just friends because we did the same subjects?
I left school almost 6 years ago (where did the time go?) and if I’m being completely honest I haven’t stayed friends with a lot of the people I went to school with. Some of the friends I had from old jobs I no longer talk to. I used to think this was a bad thing. I have changed my attitude.
Sometimes for one reason or another people grow apart. Sure it is sad but I have come to realise that it is just a reality of life. Just because I no longer speak to the people doesn’t mean that I can’t still continue to share the stories and experiences we had and laugh as hard as I did when it happened. Over the last week I have had quite a few conversations about “friendship” and I was relieved to find out that I am not alone in my thoughts about friendships. Yesterday I had the pleasure of catching up with two of the girls I did Law School with. It had been so long since we were all together but when we saw each other it was honestly as if no time had passed. We spoke as if we had seen each other yesterday. We shared what had been happening in our lives, some things were good other things were sad. That’s what friendships are, to be there in the good and the bad. It amazes me that some friendships are always there even if time has passed. When I think of all the friends I have had for years it is because they have been based on something more than the circumstance. There is something in our underlying values and believes that aligns that makes it easy to talk without fear of judgement and to be raw and honest with each other no matter how hard it is to hear.
I have this beautiful friend that I have been friends with since we were about 10. We were in the same class and just instantly got along. We would sit next to each other all day at school, call each other straight after school and end up talking until it was time for dinner. We would stay at each other’s houses all the time. We were inseparable. There was a time though that we drifted for a bit. We were always ‘friends’ but just not as close as we were. Somewhere along the way we crossed paths again and now I feel like we are closer than we have ever been. There is no stress on the relationship. We understand that we both have a lot on and that we can’t catch up all the time. We go for walks when we are free and message to check in. It is effortless. It isn’t one person persisting to catch up. It isn’t always one person talking. It is give and take. She is equally there for me as I am for her.
In terms of maintaining a long term friendship I can only say what I have experienced. For me the friendships that have lasted are those when we both feel valued and respected. There is no drama. It is just people who get along and want to support each other. If the conversation is raw and inspiring then it doesn’t matter how much time passes. I always think of my parents. My parents and my godparents have been friends for over 20 years. Every time they catch up they grab out their calendars at the very end and pencil in the next date. Sometimes if you say “we will do this again” six months can very swiftly pass. I know how incredibly blessed I am to have the friends that I do in my life. They bring me so much joy. So what if they aren’t all in the same group and that half of them live nearly an hour away. So what if some are younger and some are much older than me. The gift of friendship is such a blessing that should never been taken advantage of and always be cherished.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything, never, no. never. Your friendship is the best present ever.” – Tigger.
Sunday brunching with these beautiful girls - food and laughter, unbeatable combination.