I read this article the other day. It was actually written back in April, but Facebook being the way it is it randomly popped up in my news feed so I clicked through and gave it a read. It basically outlines a study which claims to have found out what age you are likely to have the most friends – apparently age 25. This probably is true in my case. I had just left working in pubs and was in a new relationship, so yeah, my social circle was probably at it’s biggest back then, so in that respect the article was bang on. Next, though, it went on to explain that the number of friends you have is likely to deplete fairly rapidly from that age onwards, and will only continue to do so until the day you die (or hit retirement, actually, as it happens!). This was meant to be bad news, or so the clickbait headline suggested, with Marie Claire’s Facebook page stating ‘Well, this is depressing….!’
Not for me.
See, I’ve never been a people person. That isn’t to say I’m a loner, just to be clear, or that I’m the shy retiring type. I’ve never found it difficult to make friends and I don’t find it particularly terrifying having to make conversation with people I don’t know. Quite the opposite in fact, which is probably why I’ve ended up in the line of work I’m in. Some of the best chats I’ve had this week have been with taxi drivers. True story. No, I’m a very sociable person, probably one of the first to speak up in one of those painful group tasks you find yourself in on team building days when half the group seem intent on sitting in awkward silence all day, and I’m definitely usually the one trying to convince you to go for a happy hour cocktail after work when you promised yourself you’d catch up on the ironing. Thing is though, I can talk to people, I just don’t like most of them.
I like my people. My people are awesome. But I pride myself on the high selection criteria I used to find those people, so when this article talks about how you start ‘losing’ friends after the age of 25, I take a different stance. I didn’t lose anything. I just got better at sorting the wheat from the chaff! While I find it easy to strike up conversations with whoever I’m stood in a queue with at any given moment, or the person who is serving me in the bank (shout out to the lovely young chap who told me his career history in 5 minutes last week while my sister got statements for her Mortgage application – turns out my company turned him down for a job a few years ago! Small world! Think we missed a trick there to be fair…!) and my Facebook wall is a veritable feast of acquaintances from various life stages, all of which I’d happily grab a coffee with if they asked, the number of people I’d class as a true friend these days could probably be counted on my fingers and that’s just the way I like it.
See, I find people largely disappointing, by nature. We can be an extremely selfish, demanding bunch at times, and I find that very draining. Not because I don’t care about other people’s needs – quite the opposite, in fact. If anything, I probably care a little too much about others needs, which means I have been known to be taken advantage of in the past, and it was always a huge knock to my younger self’s perception of the world when someone didn’t return the love and effort I put into my relationships. It probably did take me to about 30 to realise that an awful lot of people just don’t view relationships in the same way as me, and I found that thought rather sad. Still do, actually. It seems to be quite a common view that a friendship is something that should be constantly providing you with something – someone to do EVERYTHING with, someone to share EVERYTHING with, someone to ALWAYS be there, and ALWAYS do the best by you. That all sounds jolly nice, but heck, if you have 72 billion friends on Facebook, how are you meant to spread yourself so thinly?? I look back now on the silly arguments I had with friends at school and thank my lucky stars I don’t have to deal with that nonsense any more. Like, your bestie not talking to you because you sat by someone else in Science, or having a screaming row because you didn’t get invited when everyone walked to the chip shop at lunch time. Yet I was horrified to find out the other day in a chat at work that a hell of a lot of people I know still have these kinds of spats with their ‘best friends’. I was even more horrified, upon embarking on Bridesmaid duties and arranging a hen weekend, that even some 30 and 40 year old women still have these kind of spats, and who has the energy for that really?? Basically, I’m too old for that shiz. Life is already so demanding as it is, and I don’t even have children yet.
If this is all making me sound a little heartless, consider this. I’m a low maintenance friend, it’s true. I will read your texts and have every intention of replying, but then get distracted and forget. I will quite possibly accidentally double book myself on the one weekend we both thought we had free this month, and I will almost definitely forget to bring that book I promised to lend you every time we meet. To be frank, if you don’t work with me or live in the same city, there is a high possibility you will only hear from me about 3 times a year and that will normally be because you posted a dog or baby picture on Instagram. But that works both ways. You don’t have to check in with me every week, and yet if I say I’ll be at your Birthday party, I will. If you drunkenly call me in tears at 2am on a Saturday night, I will pick up and I will drop everything and jump on a train when you unexpectedly announce you’re in town for one night only. I’ll forgive you if you have to cry off cocktails last minute due to a hair emergency and I won’t hold it against you if you guys hang out without inviting me sometimes – that is totally ok and really not a crime! You don’t need to constantly prove you’re my friend. I already know, whether I last spoke to you last night, or last year. Because once I’ve decided you’re one of my people and that I love you, it’s unconditional, and that is what real friendship is to me. Once you are in, I will do all I can to keep you there, and I hope I don’t need to write 6 page Facebook Birthday gushings to the world to prove it.
So if I never made another friend again, I could live with that. I’m pretty proud of my little rag-tag collection of school friends, ex-colleagues, ex-lovers and fellow weirdos, and I wouldn’t change it for all the popularity in the world.
That also means you are stuck with me for life, FYI. Sorry ’bout that!