Friendship Outside The Box

[This is an archived post from my old blog or Medium that I was particularly proud of originally published in 2017. All info was correct at time of publishing]

I’ve had a lot of friends over the years; friends from education, jobs, fandoms, activism, support groups and every corner of the internet. There’s been a veritable stream of friendships over the last decade, but most very rarely last for longer than 2 years. You see, I make friends easily, but I also fall out of friendships even easier.

Friendships in your late teens and twenties are strange. If you attend university and then try to make it in the world after, you meet so many people. We’re thrown together as friends a lot in the real world, and in that sort of environment your friends become your family. If you can’t leave the house much due to illness, internet communities are where you find your friends; bonding over a shared hobby, circumstance or fandom initially but you find out more about these little icons and usernames and feel connected.

I fall for friends as easily as I fall for partners, if not easier. I’m obsessed with my friends, their biggest cheerleader and want to know as much about their lives as they want to share. I want them to succeed and be everything I know they can be. I want to be their closest confident and for them to know all my secrets too.

And that right there is my downfall, I’m too trusting. I have always treated others the way I wish to be treated but many don’t operate that way. I’m blunt and brash but I’m also caring, ridiculous and will listen to my friends for hours. My bluntness is often taken for rudeness and negativity, the brashness for oversharing, caring for meddling. So I lose friends easily.

I’ve had break ups that have destroyed my world and left me to rebuild the pieces. But some of the worst heartache I’ve experienced has been when a close friend has blocked me from their life.

It’s taken a while but I’ve realised why this keeps happening. Friendship for some falls into a box. They have their friend they can bitch to, the one they can cry and plot to kill their exes with, the ones who they can call for a laugh, the boozy one with many a sex story and the ultimate agony aunt. I’ve been each of these types of friend to different people and groups, and a lot of my ex friends were just one pigeonhole, but why can’t we be all?

They say that its when times are tough that you discover who your real friends are, and god how I wish that wasn’t true. It was during one of the toughest times of my life at the beginning of the year when it all clicked for me. My world fell out from under me and I couldn’t be the person others expected. Fair weather friends grew distant and eventually disappeared.

And then the stars shone.

The one I hadn’t spoken to properly in years made herself indispensable. The one who had her own life and baby to look after sent me cards. The ridiculous fangirl who was there with memes and pictures of sexy men but also a shoulder to cry on. The one who’d moved an ocean away and back but took me to lunch and made me scream with laughter. The one who keeps me up to date with all the gossip that I can trust. The one who I’d only just met who sent me a mountain of chocolate. The one who sat on skype and told me to find my favourite colour when I couldn’t breathe. The family member I never realised I had so much in common with. The one who knows all my terrible health problems and I know hers. The one who I trusted blindly through circumstance and became so much more. The whole communities of amazing folks who believed in me and saw in me what I couldn’t.

A close friend once told me “its about reciprocation bitch”– yes we all like a good moan, but we should also be there to listen to our friends problems. We don’t need a friend for this and a friend for that when all friends can do everything.

I have less friends now, but a handful of close friends I speak to when I can. It’s took me so long to see that friendship is all encompassing. I pride myself on being the friend pals can ask about weird sexual things, come to when they’re having a bad day and the one who will send them inappropriate memes. And I purposefully only surround myself with people that I know are the same.

I’m done with friends who I can’t be my whole self around. I’m not just the inappropriate sex story teller, the agony aunt, the fangirl, the comedic genius (I was never that one). I’m all those things and more. My friendships are with people I can talk about filth and pain with, then have it interrupted with a gif I had to send them or them showing me their new lipstick. They’re the people who call me a c*nt as a term of endearment, but will also mop up my tears and cheer me up again.

I know that I could message any of my friends with “life is shit” and they’d agree but we’d make the day a little easier for each other. Because life and friendship isn’t all rainbows and happiness. But there’s great things in life too; like musicals, hot men, pizza and orgasms. You need someone who can celebrate, cry, hold you accountable, wrap you in a metaphorical blanket and lift you up.

People don’t fit into boxes and neither should friendship.

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