It's a funny thing, friendship.
When it comes to TV friendships, we've been dealt an unfair hand. Just think of Carrie Bradshaw, running across Manhattan to be with Miranda at 11:59 on New Year's Eve. Or Girls' Hannah and Jessa crying together in the bathtub. Or Blair and Serena, forever forgiven, despite sleeping with each other's boyfriends.
Lovely in theory? Yes. But reality? Absolutely not.
The truth is we're all time-poor. Arranging a friend date involves effort, conflicting calendars, partners and priorities.
As children, we proclaim BFFs on the playground, only to experience painful friendship breakups as a pre-teen. Our lives, once centred around sleepovers and who to sit next to in class, suddenly became a sea of work commitments, dating and extracurricular activities. We make friendship the foundation of our young lives, only to discover that in adulthood things change, people change and friendships falter. It's tough. It can be isolating.
On the whole, my friends and I don't speak every day. They can't drop everything at a moment's notice, because they have their own lives. And honestly? So do I.
But it's vital that in the process of building a life, we don't forget to build our friendships, too.
I'm not here to tell you how to manage your friendships better -- only you know the answer to that. I'm simply saying that, no matter how busy you become, friendship is terribly, terribly important.
Especially when it matters most. Last summer, I faced the most testing time of my life to date. My friends rallied around me in the form of dinner dates, plentiful distractions and the all-important message that says "I'm here, I'm thinking of you". I quickly discovered how much I need my friends -- and also the ones I didn't really need at all. But don't wait until the disastrous happens. Don't allow your friendships to become a string of interactions over social media.
When things get tough, you won't be consoled by your five-figure bank balance, or your overflowing wardrobe. Trust me. You'll need the people who get it. Who get you.
Friendship, to me, isn't about birthday cards, or smiling selfies, or how long you've known each other. It's about knowing that that person is flawed and busy and not always available, and choosing to be in their life anyway.
I believe in reaching out. It takes 30 seconds (if that!) to check in with someone via text or email and it can make their entire day. I also believe in sending open, appreciative messages to your friends when they least expect it. I can't always go for cocktails, but I can tell my friend she's doing a great job at life, even if I haven't seen her for a while. This is important. Your friendships are important.
Admittedly, I am not the world's greatest friend. I can be woefully slow at replying to WhatsApp messages and I've chosen a day in bed with my boyfriend over brunch more times than I'd like to admit. And yet, when it comes down to it, I hope my friends know that I'm here. As a confidant, a coffee date and a judgement-free zone.
Because, my god, I love my friends. Whether we see each other regularly, or once in a blue moon. I love them for their wit, and their compassion, and their honesty, and their courage. I love them for their openness. I love them for cheering me on, even from afar. I love cheering them on. Unconditionally and always.
Maybe, as we navigate adulthood and all it entails, that's what true, realistic and long-lasting friendship is all about?
Maybe having a best friend who knows your most intimate secrets, alarm code and favourite type of chai tea isn't realistic for all of us. And that's okay. But having several friends, all with their own wonderful traits, is the key to a profound and fulfilling life.
Sometimes the bonds of friendship grow, and other times they break. But a friendship doesn't have to be persistent or even permanent to have a profound effect on your life.
In many ways, friendship in adulthood is one of the highest forms of love imaginable. Unlike marriage, there's no financial benefits or ceremonial recognition. It's simply two people, meeting up, for the sake of conversation. What could be more beautiful than that?
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