Be it The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging or Mean Girls, the trope of the girl gang friendship group has reigned for years. There’s the motherly one, the ‘quirky’ one, the one that’s a touch cooler than the rest… It’s fun and escapist and almost comforting to follow along for the course of a 30-minute episode or 80-minute film.
That was, until I began to notice that it wasn’t always a form of escapism and that, for many, it was… relatable?
Ever since my earliest teenage years, I’ve watched curiously from the sidelines as people around me at school flocked together and lived out real-life scenes from the movies. While I’d queue up for lunch alone and haphazardly try to find somebody, anybody, to sit with, it seemed as though everybody else had a tight-knit group to sit with, gossip with, make plans with. I’d sit quietly front row in the classroom pretending it didn’t affect me, actually, that I was never invited out to town at the weekends or included in conversations that spanned half the classroom. I can recall the times I’d push myself to make the first move, only for them to physically turn away or around and continue chatting to their friends, for I surely wasn’t one.
I’ve written countless times about how the Internet became a safe space for me in my teens. Online, I could be me and not worry about whether or not that was why I struggled to become part of a friendship group. Although I still wanted to find a core group of pals just like in the movies, I found something better: a community. This community.
Over the years, I discovered that I don’t experience the fear-of-missing out OR the joy-of-missing-out. I’m far too used to being my own best company and dividing my time between all of the things and special people that make me ‘me’. Instead, I often feel the anxiety and fear of being forgotten about entirely. It’s just me, not me and an immediate girl gang. And, happily, now that I’m in my 30s, I have a select few groups of friends who make me feel wanted, appreciated, needed and liked. On reflection, perhaps it was all for the best that I got to enjoy and discover my own company throughout my teens and early twenties, because now I have friendships that exist and bloom in an entirely new and unexpected way.
What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that things are often not like the movies, it’s better. (Eventually.)