So, having spent the day at home ill, not really able to get off the sofa, my go-to box set in this situation is always Sex and the City. Why? Because when you are feeling ill or low, all you really want are your best A-list friends around you, and if you can’t, then chatting to them on Facebook whilst watching SATC is the next best thing!
I have never been someone who cares much about being ‘popular’. Like Carrie, I have a select group of very close friends, and right now it feels like all of us have reached a point in our lives where things are a bit bumpy. Whether it’s relationship problems, fertility issues or work nightmares, every day it seems like there’s something one of us needs to talk about. I’m not actually sure how I ever manage to get any work done. If Facebook had been around in the 90s I’m sure Carrie would never have got her columns written!
This closeness with other people is not something I can say has always been a feature of my life. It was probably born out of necessity, when I started teaching and quickly realised that real life was actually a bit difficult and you probably need people to help you through it. Until that point, I had always thought of myself as quite independent and self-sufficient. When I was at school, friends were a tricky proposition. I had a few, but being friends with me was difficult, I was quite a target (very long story which warrants a whole post to itself) and no-one wants to be targeted by association. College was different, I found people who were a better fit for me, but by then I was already a little wary and not willing to totally trust or rely on anyone. It took a number of years for some of those friendships to fully develop.
Because I was already in a fairly serious relationship when I went to university, I sort of put friendships on the back burner. Yes, there were a lot of great people who I had an incredible time with, but my emotional focus was always on my relationship really. I don’t think I can honestly say at that point in my life that I was a very good friend to anyone, and I certainly hadn’t yet learnt the value of having solid, reliable people who I could talk to about anything without feeling judged.
My first year as a teacher was incredibly hard. Not only because it’s a tough job, for which I felt unprepared and unequipped, but because things were not so great in my personal life. I was engaged to someone I actually couldn’t stand (again, long story), and I had lost track of a lot of the people I went to Uni with, most of them had moved to London or abroad, so I felt quite alone and depressed. I had only recently met the people on my teacher training course and at first I wasn’t sure I had much in common with them – I was only doing it because I didn’t know what else to do after Uni, they were there because they wanted to be. But when I didn’t know who else to turn to, they were there, offering advice, sympathy, tissues and shedloads of white wine. I managed to get through it, and ditch the guy I didn’t actually want to marry, because somehow they gave me the stength to know that I could do it.
But by now I was quite the hardened cynic. I convinced myself that these were the only people in the world I would ever trust as much as the few friends I had from back home. Whenever I met new people, I wouldn’t bother making the effort to get to know them. Which is totally ridiculous but that’s how I used to think. So, in the middle of last year, when I uprooted my whole life and moved to another country, one of the things that scared me most was that I would be lonely. Not because I didn’t think I would meet anyone, but because I didn’t think I would let them into my life.
Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. In the short time I’ve been here, I have met some of the most lovely, genuine, and inspirational people I could ever wish to find. They say you can’t make old friends, but when you just click, it feels like you’ve known each other forever. That’s what a friend is; someone you feel you have known for years regardless of the real time you’ve known them. I’ve finally realised that all my friends, old and new, are my real soul mates. Just as Big says about Carrie and her friends, mine are the real loves of my life. I only hope I make them proud to call me a friend too.