Friendships. At their worst they are often mucky, stressful and exhausting hard-work. At their best, they are a celebration of all that is brilliant about human nature; full of joy, compassion and kindness.
Despite my usual self-deprecating nature, I’d like to think I’ve been a good friend far more than I’ve been a shitty one. I can be intensely loyal, fair-minded and thoughtful just as much as I can be lazy, stubborn and unyielding. My friendships, new and old, have been littered with jealousy, bitching, and passive-aggressive stand-offs. For girls, friendships are often like soap operas – full of drama which is only interesting to the parties involved, simply because we invest so much of ourselves in them. The petty dramas seem to tail off as we get older and wiser – or at the very least we become better equipped to deal with things.
I’m fully aware of my shortcomings as a friend. My lack of self-esteem often stops me from arranging meet-ups, fearful of rejection. I know I need to make more effort to, as it were, put myself about a bit. Yet, I’ve travelled the length and breadth of the country to see them, when I couldn’t afford to, because I value them.
I’ve said stupid things out of jealousy and self-loathing, which I should have had the grace not to. I know better now of course, but I’m also awfully good at listening and advice. I’ll pepper it with daft tales to get them laughing when they don’t much feel like it. I’m good for a laugh.
I’ve got a knack of putting my foot in it. Ill-thought out rants and raves have caused me trouble in the past. Yet I also know the value of compassion. A handwritten letter or card, when you are at your lowest, is one of the most meaningful things you can ever receive.
I’d say I value loyalty, compassion and kindness more than any other human traits, but I’ve been guilty of being unkind and thoughtless on occasion. But being called out on these things has undoubtedly made me a better friend.
I’m lucky in that all my closest friends possess these lovely qualities by the absolute bucketload. Because they do, they get forgiven for being consistently late, missing my birthday, or not returning messages. Just as I hope they forgive me being an idiot. It’s a terrible cliché, but it’s true; with friendships, you can only take from them what you put into them. Some of my relationships have withered and died from neglect, others have withered and blossomed. But all of them have been special and valued.
And that really is the most important part.