I had a little bit of an epiphany recently – one that probably should have occurred a lot earlier in life. During my pre-teen and teenage years, I had a lot of trouble feeling like I fit in, like I had friends. I think, realistically, I fit in just fine and I had a lot of friends but I felt like I didn’t and I’m only now just realising why that might be.
I read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies as I was growing up – just like anyone, I assume – and SO much of my perception of friendship was formed through that lens. I thought friendship was supposed to be this crazy loyal, I-would-die-for-you thing – always exciting, always fun. Don’t get me wrong, it totally still can be as amazing as that, but what my fictional worlds were telling me was that if my relationship with my friends wasn’t exactly like that, then one of us must be doing something wrong. That lead me to blame it on myself or to blame it on my friends and make them feel like they were doing a bad job, when in reality, neither of us were really to blame.
Last night I sat around a table with my friends as we ate, laughed and argued and I felt a bit like I couldn’t believe that there could be any other people in the world who were better friends than them.
“But… hang on, you fight, you disagree, you’re sometimes not up at 3am for them to call, you can’t sit cross legged in matching pyjamas eating copious amounts of junk food every weekend, you don’t have endless money to go shopping with them and you don’t even own your own car so that you can roll down the windows with the music blasting as you hurtle down a coastal highway! YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW THE MEANING OF FRIENDSHIP.”
Yeah alright, every teen movie ever, I see your point but in response, I honestly don’t want any of those things. If life went smoothly, if life really was as care-free as the movies make it out to be, it’d be pointless to have friends. If we weren’t awkward and struggling and just generally bumbling through life together, then life wouldn’t be as fun as it is.
Friendship isn’t the movies’ idea of white-girl camaraderie. It’s not flawless, because the world we live in is totally flawed, but it’swonderful in its own flawed way. Friendship is being there. It’s being there to talk, to laugh, to fight, to cry with, to take advantage of, to selfishly ignore, to stick it out, to come back to, to understand and to struggle alongside.
If I felt like I wasn’t fitting in during my school years, if I felt like I had no friends, it wasn’t because that was true, it was because I was expecting way too much from the friends that I did have. It’s taken me a long time to realise that, but the best bit is that my friends are still here, still willing to be my friend even though it’s taken me an age to get to this point. That’s friendship.