Last week’s launch of Tea & Tattle Podcast has led me to reflect on many things, not least the importance of friendship. I count myself lucky to have some truly fantastic friends in my life (Sophie included), but I didn’t always feel this way, and many important lessons I learnt in my 20s centred on friendships. Here are a few of them:
Know Your Tribe
How I choose friends (and I mean real friends, not acquaintances) now is very different from how I chose friends in my early 20s. When I was younger, I generally thought that people who had similar interests to me would make the best pals. Over time, I’ve realised that, although of course it’s great if you both enjoy a trip to a gallery or baking a cake together, the best recipe for friendship is whether your values are the same. When you find people who match both your values and your interests, well, then you know you’ve met a kindred spirit.
Keep Open to New Friendships
Never close the doors to the possibility of new friendships. For some people, making friends comes more naturally than for others, but I still believe the art of making friends is definitely something that comes through practice. In general, I’ve found that starting a conversation with a smile and ‘Hi, my name’s Miranda‘ is often all that’s needed for the beginnings of what could well turn out to be a beautiful friendship.
Don’t Sacrifice Friendships for Relationships
We all have that friend: the one you never hear from again as soon as there’s a new boyfriend / girlfriend in the picture. We also all have that other friend : you ONLY hear from them when they’re in a relationship, and then they insist upon dragging their significant other to every single meet-up, whether it’s appropriate or not.
All I can say is: don’t be that person. It’s impossible to be completely fulfilled by a single other being (whatever Hollywood would like us to think), and it’s never a good idea to put that much pressure on someone else anyway. Be your own person, have your own friends. It’s fun!
Not Everyone is a Friend for Life
One of the hardest lessons to learn is that sometimes people are only meant to be your friend for a certain period of your life. I truly believe that there are worthwhile lessons to be learnt from anyone who enters your life, but that doesn’t mean everyone is meant to be part of your story forever. In the end, interests change and people grow apart naturally, so it’s best to accept the fact that even your best friends in high-school or university may very well not be in your close friend circle as you move into your 30s. Appreciate the good memories you’ve had with these people in the past, be thankful for the lessons these friendships have taught and move on with grace.
Accept Only the Best
As with any kind of relationship, you should be made to feel supported and loved by those closest to you. Of course, you need to do the same for them too! Although I’m always quick to pick up warning signs in romantic relationships, for much of my 20s I was terrible at noticing red flags in platonic friendships. Everyone goes through bad times, and part of being a good friend is to stick with people when they’re at their less than best, but there’s a definite line between being a sympathetic friend and allowing yourself to be treated like a doormat. In general, your friends should leave you feeling buoyant and confident; they should cheer on your successes and let you know they’re your biggest supporters. Anyone who leaves you feeling drained, disheartened or downright miserable isn’t worth your time. Although it can feel scary to let a friendship go, and you may also struggle with feelings of guilt, remember this: by stepping away from friendships that don’t bring you much joy, you make room for those that do, and the difference will lighten your heart.
Make Friends Beyond Your Peer Group
Limiting your circle of friends to only those your own age (or very close) is just that: limiting. I’ve always been open to making friends beyond my own generation, and several of my friends are either older or younger than me. I like to think this helps me to be a more understanding person and to have a broader perspective on life.
Keep in Touch
A big part of having great friendships is being a terrific friend yourself, and that means making an effort to stay in touch regularly. No one wants an absentee friend! Even if you have to set yourself reminders (and I mean literal reminders) to text someone every day / week / month – whatever is appropriate for your particular friendship – do it! Yes, your friends might notice they always hear from you at 9am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but they will appreciate that you’re making an effort to negotiate a hectic timetable (or an innate inability to organise) and will respond to you with warmth, rather than irritation over their unanswered messages. If you don’t generally have problems with communication, then occasionally try to go that extra mile: send someone a ‘just because’ card to let them know how much you appreciate them, or take a turn to suggest a fun meet-up.
There are great ways to keep in touch through social media too: for instance, I’m part of an instagram group that was set up to stay in communication with some of my lovely instagram friends. Rather than sometimes missing each other’s posts in the constant updates of our instagram feed, we send our new images privately to this group, and it’s a great way to have a little daily communication with each other and to see what’s happening in everyone’s life.
What lessons have you learnt about friendship? Did any of my own resonate particularly with you?