06.04.12 Truth & Wisdom
When Friendships Aren’t a Given
BY Jessica Brown
If you were to name the three things that are most important to you in life, that you absolutely couldn’t live without – I’m going to put myself out on a limb and say with conviction that one of the three would be your closest friends. Friendships are the foundation of our lives – throughout life we encounter work, family, health and love afflictions, and it’s predominantly our friendships that help us through these difficulties.
I’m at a bumpy point in life. I’ve finished studying and I’ve recently moved away from home for a job – to the opposite end of the country – where I initially knew no-one. I quickly learnt the disparity between university students and those in full-time work. The latter have much less time for making friends. My colleagues have their lives to go home to at 5:30 – why would they be interested in making a new friend?
We’re brought up being told to rely on no-one but ourselves for our own happiness. I’m convinced that the first time this piece of advice was given it was to someone going through a break up. Relying on others in a romantic sense can sometimes be unhealthy. With friends however, it’s a different story. Our close friendships are one of the very few things in life that we can admit to needing. There’s no shortage of research proving that those who maintain good friendships into old age live longer, healthier and happier.
Friends help define us. Not through who we are, but by supporting us and giving us the confidence to execute our true selves to the outside world. To have someone know you better than you know yourself, to feel your pain as much as you do and to pick up the phone just to see how your day is going is invaluable. Friends are invaluable.
I’m the sort of person that feels uncomfortable in large groups of people – I’ve always had a few really close friends rather than a large group of friends. Throughout my life so far I’ve had some amazing friendships. Some have led me to be braver than I ever thought I was capable of being, some have given me invaluable advice that I would never have found elsewhere. When I think about my past friendships I feel nostalgic to the extent that my stomach knots. Just like mothers, fathers, siblings and partners, friendships are a unique relationship that cannot be fulfilled by another.
At some stages in life it’s not completely uncommon for some of us to find the friend part of our lives lacking. Circumstances such as relocating for work, for example, can mean starting from scratch again – except now you’re not in school it’s a little more difficult to break into already-existent friendship groups.
As a human race, we can be a pretty friendly bunch. Yet, the more popular amongst us can be forgiven for assuming that the rest of us all have buzzing social lives. If you have a great group of friends – why would it cross your mind that the woman going the extra mile to make conversation with you doesn’t have a phone overflowing with contacts, too?
As we get older, it becomes harder to make friends. Yet, as our age increases, so does the potential of friendships and the impact they can have on our lives. Work colleagues tell me to ‘get myself out’ to ‘go and sit in a bar on your own and people will start talking to you.’ Unfortunately, it’s not that easy for everyone.
My advice? If you find yourself circumstantially low on friends – stay strong, reminisce on your past friendships and look forward to the day when you will once again be surrounded by familiar laughter and constant support. Like Lady Gaga said on the show, loneliness can be enjoyed – and you’re going to make friends far quicker if you look like you’re enjoying life.
Featured Image via Tranchis on Flickr