“I think about friendship a lot. When you’re young, it comes so easily. You both like Barbies. You both like Batman. You both like to roll from the top of the hill to the bottom, fist-bump over your mom’s chocolate cupcakes, and spin out together on your Big Wheels.
Then it’s not easy anymore. She flirts with your boyfriend. He’d rather play basketball than ride bikes across the lawn. She talks about you behind your back, and it smarts. Suddenly, your friends are jerks.”
Maura goes on to discuss how difficult it can be to find real, sustaining friendships as an adult. Her post got me thinking about my friendships.
This past year, with the breakup and the cancelled wedding, I learned who my real and true friends are. I’ve had people come through for me in ways I never could have imagined. In fact, there were friends that came through for me when I knew (guiltily) that I had probably failed to come through for them in the past (but you better know that I vow to be a better friend in the future). There were late night phone calls, emotional searches for a new apartment, moments of sobbing about everything that had happened and nothing at all, a trip to the beach to celebrate my unwedding day and even quite a few laughs. Through the hard times and the successes, I never once felt alone. I missed my ex and the life I had been building, but even in all of that loss, I found something very special: enduring and wonderful friendships that I had taken for granted.
Why had I taken my friends for granted? I still don’t know how it happened. I was just so content with my ex fiancée (who I considered to be my best friend), that I didn’t put the effort into my friendships that I should have. I was there for my friends – to a point. I was interested in their lives – but often only if it meant I could share with them something that was going on in my life. I began to care so much about what my ex fiancée thought of my friends that it clouded what I thought of them. And, I was so content in my relationship and with my circle of friends that I stopped working to cultivate new friendships.
I don’t want to mislead you; I also had some friends let me down this past year. There were friends to whom I reached out and begged for their support during my breakup, only for them to somehow make my breakup about them, or not return calls or e-mails. I’m not talking about acquaintances here; I’m talking about longtime friends upon who I was convinced I could rely. For months I agonized over the loss of these friendships, wondering how these individuals could have let me down in such a way when I needed them the very most. And then something happened: I began to let it go. I realized how blessed I am for the friends who were there for me, and vowed to stop tormenting myself about the failed friendships. And, I’m still working on completely letting go.
The other day, a reader of the blog contacted me and asked if I would go out for brunch with her and two of her friends while she was visiting Richmond. I had never met a random reader before. When I told my sister that I was nervous, she said, “Oh, are you nervous she’s going to go all Misery on you?” Umm, no. I was nervous she wouldn’t like me in person the way she liked me on the blog! Now, I was nervous she wouldn’t like me and I would also end up a statistic. Awesome.
After agonizing over what to wear (I would have had an easier time dressing for a first date!) and hating myself for drinking too much at my company holiday party the night before, I met these three women for brunch.
It turns out, my nerves were completely unnecessary. These girls were smart, pretty, funny as hell and God, even normal. Do you know how hard it is to find normal female friends these days?! At brunch, they mentioned that they were going out for drinks that night, and invited me to join them.
Well let me tell you this, there was no way in hell I was going to join the brunch girls for drinks. I was sure that I had already outstayed my welcome, and that they were just making the offer to be friendly. I figured we’d had a fun brunch and that would be it.
Later that night, I was at a not-so-fun party when I received a text message from the brunch girls, asking me if I wanted to go out. At that very moment, I realized that I was being ridiculous. I have been begging (no, seriously, begging and trying to bribe) my current friends to go out with me. However, my close girlfriends aren’t the most rowdy bunch. We go to house parties, frequent small bars in the suburbs of Richmond and have drinks at Uno’s. But a night on the town in Richmond? That doesn’t happen too often. For me, those nights usually only occur when I’m on a date or going out with my coworker friends.
I was being ridiculous. I had been begging for my girlfriends to go out with me, and then when the brunch girls asked me to go out, I was saying no. I was saying no because I wasn’t sure if they really wanted me there; because, frankly, I’m not sure what to do when you build new friendships (it’s been so long!); and because I was so used to my life, and Lord knows I hate change.
Once I realized all this, I stopped saying no. I met them on a frigid night in Richmond for drinks. I even parallel parked(ish). We ended up going to a members-only after-hours club at 2 a.m., when I didn’t know such places even existed. It was slightly sketchy, but it was fun.
And when I arrived home around 5 a.m., I washed off my makeup, donned my pajamas and wondered how I could have possibly thought about saying no to going out that night. Saying no was like saying no to the possibility of new friendships, of new experiences. I’m not saying that any of these girls are going to be my best friend soul mate, and that in 40 years we’ll end up being the Golden Girls of Richmond. But I’m saying that in 2011, hell in the waning days of 2010, I’m going to be more open to new friends and new experiences. And I strive to be the kind of friend that I was fortunate enough to have this year. And wouldn’t you know, I’m going out with two of the brunch girls again tonight.
One more thing before I let you go. At the after-hours club, this song came on. The brunch girls and two of their guy friends seriously went to town singing it. I am of the belief that they rehearsed this, show choir style, to impress me and the other onlookers. Job well done, brunch girls. It was hilarious and I figured I’d share the song with you too. (It has some profane language, that’s why you have to click through to watch it. Probably NSFW.)
Have you had similar struggles establishing new friendships as an adult? How do you recover when you feel like a friend has let you down? And this is crazy, but did you know there is a website where you can rent a friend?