We’ve all heard the saying before. You can choose your friends but not your family, but if you choose wisely your friends could become your extended family so really that old adage becomes a bit redundant.
Friendship is important to us all right? How many times have you asked yourself what your life would be like without your mates? If you haven’t then maybe you should, for what indeed would life be without the love and laughs that your friends provide?
No matter how great your family are, there are some situations where they just don’t cut the mustard so it’s reassuring to know you have a good circle of friends, hand picked by you, because you know they are the best. Friendship is invaluable because it is the thing that gets you through the bad times and it is also the thing that helps you enjoy the good. Come rain or shine friends are always there. Through the good and the bad, the thick and the thin and the fun and the arguments a good friend will enrich your life with laughter and adventure, support and advice all served up with a side order of honesty.
I could count on both my hands the number of friends that I have that I would class as best friends. The ones that I could trust and rely on no matter what. Some people might think thats a bit sad because we all know that we only have 10 fingers. I’m just not one of those people that can claim to have a massive group of best mates. I’m not that outgoing ‘I can make friends with anyone’ person. I don’t make friends easily but thats not saying I don’t know how to be polite when I first meet someone. All I am saying is that it takes me a while to trust, I hold potential friends at arms length and keep my guard up for a while. As soon as I have got your measure and figured out where to place you then we’re cool. I just like to know people are sincere before letting them in. But you know what? I prefer it that way. I really don’t care if my birthday gatherings might no be as big as someone else’s. And so what if the size of my friendship group would never qualify me for the role of Little Miss Popular. The friends that I have in my group I want there, and I trust. Surely thats what matters.
The one quality that I look for in friendship, the one that I think matters the most, is loyalty. Some people might say trust is the most important thing but I believe that trust is synonymous with loyalty. You can’t have one without the other. I’m a loyal friend and I don’t think it’s too much to expect in return. Everybody is different and some might say the most important thing in friendship is that you share interests and opinions in common, to others laughter and fun may be the sign of a good friend. Ask somebody else and they might say the ability to listen and give good advice is the key. Non of these things are essential in my opinion. They are a bonus. If a friend is loyal and stands by your side thats the only thing you need to make the relationship work. Loyalty is the deal breaker.
I can only speak of my own friendships but myself and my best friend Helen are a perfect example of this. We are so different in terms of our interests and styles and for everything we have in common there will be another three things that we don’t have in common. Some of the things she loves, for example the gym (torture chambers if you ask me) and all things keep fit and sporty I hate and likewise Helen just doesn’t get my Cheryl Tweedy and Topshop obsessions. On a shopping trip Helen will be surfing the racks for board shorts and hoodies and I will be hunting down shoe boots and lacy dresses. Alongside the things that we do have in common these differences give us something to talk about. But what makes our friendship so special is that when it comes to the bottom line non of these differences matter. The reason Helen is my best friend is because she has always been and always will be on my side. Helen is there without question or fail whenever I need a cry or a moan, a laugh or a bitch. She is there to listen and give me advice, when life gets me down Helen picks me up and I hope she knows that I would do the same for her.
I first met Helen when we were kids taking swimming lessons, we didn’t go to the same school but we would see each other every Thursday (? correct me if I’m wrong Hel!) We would always have a natter before we had to get down to some serious swimming (which she was alway better at then me!) In the end I stopped going swimming (not because I was crap, I was actually quite good) but because we moved away, and I lost touch with Helen. I wasn’t to see her again until I was 17 and at sixth form, when who should come up to me in the common room and say “I remember you from swimming, you wore a bright pink costume!” And so our friendship resumed as if the intervening years had not been. Even when we went to separate uni’s we still made the effort to keep in touch. In those three years due to timetables, workloads and deadlines I probably only saw Helen a handful of times but I knew if I needed her she would make the time for me and be there.
Through the different stages of your life you get to meet new people, new friends and when it’s time to move on you each go your separate ways. You don’t live close by and you don’t talk very often but that doesn’t mean that these friendships aren’t important. While I was at uni I made some fantastic friends. For three years we learned together, we lived together, we laughed together, we worked together and because of this, despite the fact we have all now moved on, I will remember them. We might not see each other and we might not talk every day but I will keep in touch with these people, because they are my friends. I got a Facebook message off my uni friend Magsy the other day, I’ve probably only spoken with her a couple of times since we graduated almost a year ago but it still made me smile.
The same can be said for other situations like school, everybody has school friends that they will always keep in contact with. Friends that they don’t see for years and when you get in contact it’s like you never parted. Work is another, I made some amazing friends working part time in a bookshop, I no longer work there but we speak regularly. I also met two brilliant girls while I was on my work experience at Sugar Magazine in London. If it was not for this situation I would have probably never met these girls but the shared experience created our friendship and I would like to think that regardless of the miles between us I will see these two again.
What I am trying to say here is no lapse of time nor the amount of distance can or should diminish a friendship. If they were worth your friendship in the first place, keep them. Someone once said ‘ Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there.’
Thinking of all these situations there are many friends that I could mention. I won’t because I don’t want this turning into the Gwyneth Oscar speech of friendships. But if any of my friends are reading this and thinking ‘where’s my mention?’ or ‘could that mean me?’ then yes it probably does mean you and just because I haven’t name dropped you doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking of you when writing this post.
As I have got older I think I have become a better judge of character but I have still made mistakes. At almost 22 I’ve learnt that this epiphany regarding loyalty will only come to you once you’ve been screwed over by a ‘friend’ or two. It’s only then that you discover what really makes a good friend. Being stabbed in the back by a ‘friend’ that you trusted has happened to us all at some point. No one likes to admit that they made a mistake when choosing a pal, but hey, thats life. When a valued friendship ends you mourn it like a passing, and you should, it’s the end of an era but then you should let it go and move on. When relationships like this come to a natural end it’s easier to accept, but when a friends actions are the cause, it hurts. A lot. And it’s not so much what they did that hurts, it’s the fact that you trusted them, they should have known better, but they still let you down. Speaking from experience all you can do when this happens is pick yourself up, dust yourself off and look around because it’s at times like this that you discover who your true friends are.
So to wrap this up, to all my friends, my home friends, my school friends, my uni friends, my work friends. To the ones I see and speak to all the time, to the ones that due to distance and circumstances I don’t communicate with very often- I ♥ you all and think you are all fantastical. Thanks for the friendship and for the memories. To the ones I don’t get to see enough of, I miss you. To the ones that get to see me more than enough- Ha! Your stuck with me!
Friendship is a tricky thing but irreplaceable non the less. So get rid of the ones that don’t treat you right and hold close the ones that do.
Good mates are hard to find so don’t take them for granted. If you haven’t told your friends how awesome you think they are lately take a minute and do it now. A call, a text, a Facebook message, whatever, just do it. You never know, they might return the compliment and just think how great that would make you feel.
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – C. S. Lewis
Spread the friendship love peoples!