Friends are a big part of life. We make them when we are very young, playing together, learning together, trying new things together. In time friends change from playmates to confidantes, they become a source of advice and we rely on them for support. Often when growing up we would rather talk to our friends instead of our families, playing out teenage dramas and sorting out problems that seem like the end of the world at the time. Your friends at primary school may not be your friends when you are a teenager, and we often drift apart and lose contact with people we were once so close to. This is a normal part of life. It happens every day.
We meet new people. We make new friends. We lose old friends. We fall out. We make up. We change.
I’ve found having friends in your 20s is extremely different to having friends when you are a teenager. Although your friendship circle may still contain the same people, things are different. Life changes when we start working and we mature. Our likes and dislikes often become very clear as we roll into our 20s and become (or try to become) adults. Usually, we move from studying to working, our habits change and we have more money to spend on going out and these hobbies. We move out, become responsible for bills and all the scary stuff that comes with adulthood like rent and not breaking the washing machine with coins and hairclips.
Something I have noticed that I have done in the last four years is consciously stop being friends with people. I’m not channelling Chris and Gwyneth by ‘consciously uncoupling’ and it’s not in any way malicious. It’s basically deciding that if a ‘friend’ has continued negative impact on you, or causes you more stress and upset than happiness, they’re not worth having.
Of course we fight with our pals. Those we are closest with become like family and it can’t always be plain sailing. The likelihood is they do your head in at times. The key thing is, a friendship should have more good times and laughter than upset and anxiety. I am lucky in that I have a very close group of friends, who I love and rely on, and lots of others who I may not see as much, but who are friends all the same. I am very content with these people, but it’s taken a long time to be that way.
Growing up, particularly in my late teens, I fell out with and gained a whole new friendship group. I have a couple of friends who I have known and been close with for longer than I can remember, but very few. I have also had friends that when I think back now, older and wiser, were never really friends at all. You shouldn’t have to worry about impressing them, or if they want to see you, or if you can tell them the truth. You shouldn’t be paranoid or anxious about sharing information with them and if you find yourself feeling like you don’t trust or like them all of the time, why are they in your life?
I’ve watched my friends have problems with their friends, and more recently I’ve found myself feeling so lucky that I have, if you like, ‘culled’ my circle. I have watched friends suffer and feel very down and anxious because they are on the receiving end of jealousy, bitterness, bitchiness, lies and general negativity. True friends can of course feel jealous of you sometimes, but ultimately they should tell you why they are behaving a certain way and then they should support you and give you the chance to do the sensitive thing and support them back. I have a few partners in crime who have jobs I would love, have had experiences I envy and look the way I wish I looked, but I see it as GOOD FOR THEM. I am proud of them. I have seen girlfriends through promotions, new boyfriends, bad breakups and massive fall outs this year. I know the friends I keep would be there if I needed them. I don’t keep company with those who wouldn’t anymore.
It’s not easy, cutting people out, but I haven’t noticed much of a fight or effort from people I have left behind to question why we don’t hang out anymore. If you find yourself dwelling on conversations, nights out or invitations and thinking ‘oh my God, are they angry? Will they bitch about it to someone? Can I talk to them about it?’ why don’t you address it? If it can’t be fixed and you can’t find peace with someone, do yourself a favour and turn your energy to someone who makes you feel good.
I have missed some aspects of people I no longer see or speak to, but my overall happiness is much better and I look forward to all social events. I don’t feel put down or left out, I feel comfortable, empowered and finally, after a long battle and many spats, Facebook speculation, worrying and getting horribly stressed out, I am happy and honoured to have a bloody good group of mates.