I’ve read a few books about female friendships recently which was what prompted this post. The best one of those was ‘How Do You Like Me Now’ by Holly Bourne which I’d urge you to pick up if you have a moment. It’s so on point.
Although the plot mostly focuses on romantic relationships and what we define as success, there was a strong feeling of female friendship throughout.
I feel like some novels romanticise female friendships and turn them into something that just doesn’t happen to most of us. Drunken nights where you end up in kebab shops at 3am, weddings spent on the dance floor, crying over boys who didn’t have feelings for you, going round your friend’s house just because you can. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a friend to tell their deepest fears and biggest dreams to let alone a group of them.
I’m lucky to have kept in touch with six of my friends from school. We’ve seen each other grow up and been there for each other through celebrations and commiserations but our friendship has changed over the years.
Our friendship started as teenagers; a strong bond which can sometimes take dramatic turns as you struggle to claim your identity. You spend every day together, living the same monotony of school, hanging out with the same people and doing the same exams. Evenings are spent glued to MSN chatting about your boring days and logging in and out to get your crush to notice you.
Long summers were spent on the beach and in the park, taking endless photos with your arms flung round each other, blue eyeliner sparkling on your eyes. The trends you all followed of leg warmers and head bands, gossiping about how you needed another new outfit for that party so off you all trooped to Primark on the bus.
Facebook was the shiny new MSN where you could actually stalk anyone you wanted! It made you feel self conscious and it was the first time you began to question your appearance and your friendships. Everyone was on it though and it was good for asking if anyone had done their homework to find out they hadn’t either and it was due tomorrow.
As you entered your late teens, the prospect of being able to drive and drink alcohol was looming. The freedom made you all a bit crazy and summers were spent frequenting the same pub or seeking the bright lights of the city for a heavy night of clubbing.
You could dance until 3am then, shaking your hips, yelling the words and holding hands with those girls you loved so much (even more so in your alcoholic state). The hangover was just a sign that you’d had a good night, a well done – you’re living life as it should be lived; young and care free.
Then came the worrying. You all began to worry about what the future would hold. Saturday jobs just weren’t enough anymore and University loomed for some. We had tearful goodbyes and the gang that spent every weekend together was disbanded.
A couple of years later, you all began to make your way in the world and the group began to form again. The mutual feeling was that no one really knew what they were doing but as long as we had each other, we were okay.
The biggest thing in our lives was finding a job that we loved. Little did we know that we had years to figure out what we should be doing. A job would just do for now even if it paid pennies.
The late teens saw tears over first break ups, confidence issues, dead end jobs that you hated with people that you didn’t care to be around, arguments with parents and siblings over needing your own space – your friends; the only people who could possibly understand what you were going through.
21 was the next milestone. We all agreed that we should probably have our lives together by now and why weren’t we married with children in a 2 bedroom house with a dog? Oh right, it doesn’t work like that anymore.
Conversations turned to travelling and relationships – the two things that seem to be most important in your early 20’s. Girls holidays spent laughing until your stomach ached, evenings spent getting to know a boy over a bowl of pasta and glass of wine.
It hits you that you’re becoming more sophisticated all of a sudden. You don’t feel the need to go out clubbing every weekend, in fact you’d rather stay in with Netflix and a cup of tea. You spend weekends taking road trips or going on mini breaks with your other half.
Conversations with friends turn to mortgages and babies. Two things you realise you know very little about. Lives begin to get busier and more like a roller coaster you wish would just slow down a little bit. You celebrate new jobs and friends moving in together, moving away together and getting engaged. You console the friends who didn’t get the job, who are having a tough time or have broken up with their boyfriend.
Meet ups become few and far between as lives become even busier and you feel sad that you aren’t the group of care free teenagers you used to be. You sometime go months without seeing each other but the group chat serves as a space to update everyone on each others lives.
Your social media is full of people getting engaged, travelling the world, buying houses and having babies. These massive milestones that we think define success. You’re starting to realise that success isn’t any of these things; it’s simply just being happy.
You spent a while feeling sad that you didn’t have any of the above but when you realised what you did have, you realised how extremely lucky you were.
You start preparing yourself for the next few years, knowing you’re going to watch your friends grow even more. You know that some of these friendships may not last forever so you’re relishing them whilst they last because friendships in your 20’s are sometimes trickier than your teens but they’re worth the effort.