So before I properly begin, I wanted to give a little disclaimer that I do have a little handful of friends, they are the most amazing girls and I fully love and appreciate them. If you're reading this, you know who you are! The title of this post sort of reflects the times when you open up your wardrobe and think 'I have nothing to wear!!'. You feel a bit hopeless, lost and like you should really try to pop into H&M on the way home.
I have wanted to write this post for over a year but I always held back, mainly because of embarrassment. I have always felt ashamed of not having a lot of friends, I've always felt like it just makes me sound...a bit uncool...for lack of a better word.
For years my belly has dropped whenever i've heard or read '...and bring your friends!'. I would make up an excuse as to why they can't 'all' come or explained that 'actually, i'm fine go turn up on my own!'. It's a little scary to admit that I don't really have many friends because I feel like there is such a pressure among people and especially women, that we all have this big, super-close group of friends.
I do get a little pang of envy when I see someone with their 'girl gang'. It makes me wonder what's wrong with me that I cant attract people in the same way and keep a hold of my friendships very well. So I wanted to lay it all out on the table. I've been thinking that even though I feel like i'm an anomaly, I surely cant be the only person who often feels like this. Hopefully it can be comforting to anyone else without many friends.
G R O W I N G U P
I did have friends at school, like most of us do.
I remember always feeling like I was a part of a group, always feeling accepted and just generally feeling comfortable. I moved town at the end of year 9 and started at a new secondary school in year 10, half an hour out of London and away from my first school (Which wasn't easy to get to by public transport, I hated this as a moody teen, naturally). Thankfully on my first day a few girls came up to me and asked me if I would like to hang around with them, to which I gushed 'Yes!' with relief.
I was so happy that I was accepted into a friendship group and again, I felt accepted. I was part of a large group yes, but there were sub-categories within that group of pairs of best friends who seemed very established, so I found it hard to get too close to anyone. I found that girls could be a bit territorial about their friends in high school and i've never been one to try to disrupt people and situations, so I plodded along in high school, being a bit of a 'friends with everyone' girl. I wasn't invited to birthdays or nights out and I always just ached to get out of the educational system in all honesty.
Moving on to college. New group of people, new friends! I made amazing friends at College (and Uni), I clicked so well with lots of people on my course because we all had similar interests (I did art foundation). This was the first time though that I started getting more seriously into boys. I would spend my college days with my girlfriends but spend my weekends with my boyfriend (Except for girly nights out).
I think here is where I made the first big mistake which I was blind to at the time, I started replacing potential girl-time with boy-time and I put a lot of my energy into my romantic relationships. I wish I had a voice close to me at that time open my eyes a bit to what I was doing. I know this is a common occurrence in girls that get into relationships and if I had realised that it would effect my current friendships at the time then I would have snapped out of my love obsession, but thats how it went back then and I do regret it in hindsight.
Even though I was distracted at this stage, it was also around this time that I tried and failed to get close to other girls. I feel as though it's easy to get to know other women on a superficial level but I also love those deep talks about life, love, hopes and fears...and for some reason I found it hard to get to that level with girls. I would also confide in people, opening up about my worries and problems when I felt it was right to do so but I felt like this pushed people away. Maybe I was confiding in the wrong people, maybe I was sharing too much? I thought that was part of what a good friendship was. I do think this experience made me close up a little bit when it came to sharing more of myself with people in the years following.
I N D E F E N C E O F G E T T I N G O N W E L L W I T H B O Y S
I have always known women to frown on girls who say that they 'get on better with boys' or that they 'don't get on with girls'. I am a feminist by all means (one who is still growing and learning i'll admit'), so I know that this sounds pretty sexist and maybe even a bit misoginistic? Now, theses specific quotes/words aren't exactly what I would say about myself - it's not as black and white as that for me, but I actually want to give my two cents on why some women might feel like this.
I love being around women (the most actually) and I love being around men too. In my late teens/early twenties I spent a lot of time around guys (I know what you're thinking...but not like that) I would be around male friend groups and male peers at college (after going to a single-sex school for half my childhood, this was incredibly refreshing) and from day one I felt so comfortable in the way that they bantered, joked & debated with each other. The dynamic had such ease, I hadn't felt like this around any girl group before. So when you're someone who has never quite felt accepted by girls in the past and you just happen to feel comfortable around guys (not guys that are hitting on you of course) then sometimes it can actually feel that you just 'click' better with men.
I used to feel like this a lot, but in hindsight I do now believe that it's important to have female energy around you. There are countless things that us women deal with and battle with on a daily basis that means we can connect on a profound level. There is also the annoying issue of being around men when they're flippantly talking about something which is blatantly sexist - you find yourself trying to correct them in their institutionalised misogany with no-one really understanding your side of the argument.
So it is good to have a balance, I now know that it's extremely important to have female friendships, but for quite a while I often felt much more myself when I was around guys. At this point in my life though I believe it's always been about the people that i've been around. I don't think it is down to women being less comfortable to be around, I think if you find the right tribe, male or female, then you've got yourself good friends whatever sex they happen to be.
M A K I N G N E W F R I E N D S
At the ripe old age of 29 *sheds a small tear* I confess that I find making new friends very hard and it's something i've heard many other women talk about too. We have such a long list of things these days to try to juggle during our days and weeks that it can be hard to find time to start and to nurture new (and old) relationships. This is made more difficult when you work from home because there is often little to no opportunity to meet and bond with new people.
I believe that after I started gaining an audience online, I started seeing those online people as me having success in talking and relating to other people but it was only after a couple of years that I realised that as much as it's amazing having an online following, it doesn't replace your real-life relationships. I was sucked into a bit of an online black hole of validation of my personality, my outfits, my sense of humour and my morals which is all well and good, however, I've realised that I should be making sure that i'm sharing all of these things with friends and family aswell as the online world.
So I have become aware that I would like to meet and get to know new people in my life. I don't want to force anything because I know that can be counterproductive but I want to put myself in situations where I can find new friends aswell as working on the relationships I already have, only i've found that to be quite a challenge.
Where on earth am I going to find the time between working a full-time self-employed job, attending weekly meetings in London, shooting content and looking after a one-year old baby while making time for my husband too? Where do I look? How to I let someone know that I want to be friends with them? The whole thing feels a bit like dating but without any of the unspoken rules or boundaries. It feels like bowling without the railings (Which...lets just say i'm not a natural at).
I've gone to baby classes with my hopes high - where the mums are already divided into friend groups, they glance sideways at you letting half a smile slip, before going back to conversation about sleeping patterns. I've gone to fitness classes where I've been happy to chat to other women before the class starts but there isn't really enough time to get to know anyone on any sort of level other than hoping this weeks session won't be hard and that it's a bit drizzly outside.
I know there are other things I could be doing and i'm open to doing them, but I wonder how other women find new friends at an age when everyone seems to already be taken?
I S I T M E ?
I'm aware that at this point, this post might be coming across as a bit 'woe is me'. Over the last few months I have been thinking to myself, hang on a minute. If i'm having this reoccuing problem with not being able to get a grip on female friendships, then maybe the problem is...myself?
Am I not putting enough into my friendships? Are there things i'm doing wrong? Am I not making enough time to let these friendships grow into what I want them to be? Am I just...not a good person? It's so hard to know the answer to these questions when you're in your own head. I see people with big friendship groups and try to see what I might be missing that they're doing so right.
For a long time I thought I didn't have a lot of friends because i'm socially awkward but the thing is that I'm not socially anxious when i'm around people who I click with.
I am always grateful for the people who are in my life and who have stayed on the other end of the phone for me. It's important to make an effort with the friends that you already have and to make sure they know that you appreciate them, this i've only learnt this in my late twenties. I've spent a lot of my life focusing on my other half instead of making plans with my friends for dinner or inviting a friend over to watch films and order a dominoes. I spent a lot of time hoping for other people to invite me to things instead of taking the initiative to invite people to things I have planned.
I think in the past it has been tied into self-confidence. 'Why would they want to come here' I would think. 'It's boring here, they won't like my plan for the evening', 'It won't be good enough'. Now that i'm a bit older I know that it's not really about what you do, it's just about spending a bit of time with that person, wanting to know whats been going on with their life and listening to any problems they're having and visa versa.
SHOP THE LOOK
So after years of self analysation I am trying not to be too hard on myself. I know that in the past I have let friendships slip. I have said that I couldn't make plans one too many times and not realised that they now think i'm not interested anymore. I have put boys in front of my girls, I have just been a bit lazy and i'm angry at myself for sometimes not being a good friend. I know that what I need to do is to just put myself out there more. Not take knock-backs too personally and to say 'yes' to things as much as possible. I've learnt that you get as much out of friendships as what you put into them.
I know that even though I've made mistakes in the past, I do have a lot to give. I don't expect to suddenly have a huge friendship group out of nowhere and I would never want to force or put pressure on other women to be my friend because frankly thats not my style, but I would love to be able to be close with other females and to share my random thoughts, my dreams, my embarrassing moments and my love and kindness with them.
Not having many friends has been this heavy load of shame and guilt that i've carried around for years. Never wanting to say those words 'I don't have many friends' or 'I don't have anyone to bring' and it feels freeing to say it out loud. If you don't have many friends, it doesn't make you a bad person. Sometimes it's better being alone than being in bad company, but hey, It's always good to have someone to moan to when you've had a particularly shit day and someone to celebrate with when something in your life goes well.
So, i'm open and willing to make new friends...if anyone is open to making a new one too?