Here’s what they don’t tell you about Friendships.
1. Not having a Best Friend...
is normal, is okay and doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you!
I grew up reading teen fiction books about all the girls ALWAYS had a best friend or at least their clique and as a social butterfly in school, I didn’t always have one best friend or just one group I got along with. It was only until recently that I made peace with not having a best friend because I realised that the groups of friends I have now are GREAT! Perfect for me in so many different ways that I know I’m not missing out by not having 1 best friend. I still have people who care about me, who I like to hang out with and who respect me. Having a best friend is not fundamental to life. You can be just as great without one!
2. Communication is so key.
If your friend does something that upsets you or pushes your boundaries, let them know in a peaceful way. The more I grow up, the more I understand the importance of this. People change, including me. Even though my friend has known me for 10 years, I can’t expect her to be right about everything about me. So sometimes I do say 'no' or 'I don't like that' or 'please don't do that again' and because my friend is not my friend because I do things for her, she can respect my 'no's.
3. Feeling left out or ignored
I HATED this feeling. When I was in year 10 & year 11, I felt more ignored and left out than ever before. You know when you go back to school on Monday & everyone’s talking about a group chat no one thought to add you in. Or at the end of the period, and they’re talking about their lunchtime plans without including you….and they’re meant to be your friend? *Deep sigh* It made me feel so insecure at the time and I could/should’ve communicated that I felt like I was being left out, but I was too scared of looking like a beg. So, I just forced myself to enjoy my own company & I chilled with the people who liked having me around and included me in things. Go where you’re appreciated.
4. Hurting a friend.
Maybe because we don’t like to think we’re capable of hurting people but the fact is that we are a ‘villain’ in someone else’s story. Not because we’re bad people but it’s impossible to be everyone’s good books 24/7 while remaining authentic to yourself. Sometimes we do things that hurt people because we were insecure/jealous about who we are & where we’re at.
I ended up hurting my best friend because I was insecure & wanted to be liked by the popular girls in school that I was flaky and didn’t defend my, then-best friend when people spoke about her behind her back. Our best friendship fizzled out and became best friends with another girl who treated her better than I did & rightfully so. 7 years later, we’re friends and I’ve apologised but we’re not as close as we used to be and that’s okay.
No one told me that when you hurt people, you don’t have a right to their forgiveness. No matter how much you’ve changed or apologised. What you have to do is be accountable for your actions, apologise to them and forgive yourself too. It’s all part of growth. I would never treat anyone like how I treated her. We all make mistakes and through the lasting effects of our mistakes vary, no one is perfect so forgive yourself.
5. The friends you have now, may not be with you forever
Ok, this one sounds a bit harsh and I don't want you to start looking at your friends and mentally betting on which relationship will not last. But this is just to you reassure that if you feel like you maybe don't properly fit in with the friends at your school, don't worry. You will meet so many other people. As you get older, good relationships become less about how long you've known them but more about the connection, the respect and how much you can be yourself around them. Friends do drift apart. Sometimes you make friends for the wrong reasons (I.e. mutual hate for someone) and because the foundations of the friendship weren't that great, it didn't last long (speaking from experience).
6. You can have friends for multiple different reasons & activities. They’re not a bad friend if they don’t make you ‘grow’.
Lately, I've been seeing a lot of hot takes about what friendships are meant to do/be like & I really don't believe you should be cutting people off because they don't 'inspire you to grow.' You can have friends for different things. I have friends I can go to for EVERYTHING-they're my closest. But friends that are the best for when I want to talk about Theatre or religion or school stuff. Then there are the few that super motivate me for my career goals. People are more than just what they can give you. Especially as friendship is a relational set up, not a transactional set up. It's a given that a friend should not discourage you from achieving or make you feel like you need to compromise who you are but not every person is the type of person to give you a TED Talk every time you talk. Unless you require that from your friends, it's okay (and super normal) to have different people in your life for different reasons.
7. Sometimes you have to leave.
Wanting to leave a friendship group or no longer be friends with someone is sometimes quite a difficult decision to make. But when you know you're not being respected, or they're not good friends to you or you just don't feel like you can be yourself around them, you might decide to leave. And that's ok. You can either just spend less & less time with them so you drift apart or you can be explicit & explain why you don't want to be as close anymore. It's up to you and the circumstances but don't be afraid to do what you know is best for you.