As I venture further into my twenties, I’ve learned several things. First, that there isn’t a way to correctly measure pasta so just eat however much of it you bloody well fancy. Second, I will probably never stop moving my mound of mostly clean clothes from my bed to my chair and back again depending on the time of day. And third, some friendships come with an expiry date. And that’s completely okay.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that when you’re at primary school, you have a best friend who certainly can’t be best friends with anybody else.
You stick together like glue: literally and figuratively.
You play ‘Spice Girls’ in the playground with other sets of best friends. You invite each other round for tea and make up secret codes. And it’s likely that you either stopped being best friends in Year 6 or other events led to you no longer being friends while in secondary school.
There, there’s the expiry date.
Other friendships are established because of other, similar circumstances: your work wife who obligingly grabs your morning coffee with her order if she notices you didn’t show up in the kitchen at 8:43am. Your Pilates pal who always saves you a spot that’s by one mirror and not two to save you from seeing your side profile too many times. Again, these usually come with an expiry date.
And somewhere in-between those friendships are the wildflower friendships. You can’t really pinpoint where or when you met them, how you’re friends and what you tend to do when you’re together, but you go with it anyway. WhatsApp messages are always lit, you’re constantly crafting plans for weekends, they’re always there-but-not-there. And these are the friendships that’ll expire when you least expect it simply because you’ve outgrown each other and not for, really, any other reason. I’ve been there.
A little while ago, I outgrew a friendship. We’d been friends for years and years and I genuinely can’t remember how we became friends. We weren’t in the same year at school, had no mutual friends, didn’t go to any gym classes together, never spent weekends out together. Our Mums knew each other, but even they weren’t friends. Nevertheless, our phones buzzed daily with tall tales of scandals in each other’s lives and ‘have you heard this song’ and ‘did you see that this happened’, all the usual twenty-something suspects. Once in a blue moon, we’d meet up for dinner and a long catch-up. So it continued for several months and years. Then, I began noticing little particulars that made me feel uneasy.
There was the time I landed my first post-graduate job and she didn’t once congratulate me or ask me how my new role was going. The time I heard from a friend that she’d been spreading false rumours about my family. The time I heard from a friend that she’d started a rumour about me. The time I launched a business and she decided the next week that she’d do the same… with an identical business model. That other time I met her for dinner and said about two words while she ranted about how awfully her boyfriend was treating her and taking none of my advice. There was the time I finally shared that my Granny had cancer and she brushed it off to tell me her boyfriend had upset her for the twenteenth time. That time when she openly told me she’d told lie upon lie to secure her new job in an industry I’m passionate about.
Soon, I realised that I was pouring more into a one-sided friendship than she was. I noticed slowly that the time we spent together completely drained me and left me feeling uninspired, grouchy and ignored. I’d open a sentence for it to be shot down immediately because she’d done it first, twenty times better and my advice was irrelevant. I’d pour hours into a new project for it to be laughed at behind my back, made into an inside joke with somebody else who was the first choice when it came to dinner, holidays, exploring a new place. Had I become a free therapist who’d listen to endless ranting and in return be drained of motivation, ideas and inspiration?
I believe that there are several pillars that establish a great friendship. From loyalty to kindness, honesty to empathy, I value heart-led components above all else. With a heavy heart, I stopped funnelling all of my efforts into massaging their ego and let the friendship outgrow itself. It became clear that my visions for twenties’ life were totally different from hers and that we held completely different values when it came to almost all walks of life. Much like a wildflower seedling, an outgrown friendship has simply served its’ purpose and moved on to bloom in pastures anew. Gone adrift because of reasons beyond your control and care, it’s actually okay to let friendships go in their own way and often you’ll leave feeling much happier as a result.