I have always looked at TV shows and imagined that one day I’d have a sitcom-style group of friends (a mixture of genders, races and personalities of course) to sit in the same couch in a coffee shop or at the same bar each night. I have always clung to the idea of having friends to grow up with, the same friends to follow through life as we left school, went to uni, married around the same time, have children around the same time. And of course an ancient group chat to share all these moments in, and a collection of ageing ‘squad pics’ updated every few years.
It’s only recently, at 21 years old, that I’ve realised that that’s a total fantasy. Nothing is fixed. I’m not the person I was when I was 8 years old, or 14 years old or 18 years old and the idea of having even one friend that would stick with me through the ups and downs of my life so far is ridiculous and rare. Friendships naturally fizzle out. I’m learning that now. Nobody has done anything wrong, people just grow apart. As we get older it becomes harder to keep in contact as people move away or our lives start to move in different directions. Now our similarities are defined by ‘life stages’ and not simply by age. I know people older than me that still revel in activity I feel too old for, and I know people younger than me that do things I feel far too young for.
For me, I’m learning that it doesn’t matter that my friends aren’t numerous enough to book out a whole restaurant, or that we’re spread so far across the world that they’re never all awake at the same time. Long ago I heard that people will only ever have five or six true friends in their lives. These friends will change throughout the chapters of our lives but there will only be a small group. They will change to fit my lifestyle, and my interests, and my own ‘stage in life’, just as I will enter and leave their lives for the same reasons. I shouldn’t grieve them when they leave, as they will make way for new friendships to form. And a very very special select few will survive the years of change.
I love my friends, and I’m learning to appreciate them in the moment. There are people that I used to spend every day with that I haven’t spoken to in years, and there are people I will love that I have yet to meet. I know that the people that I have met here in France will have a much lesser impact on my life in 5 years time than they do right now. But if they’re special, if it’s meant to be, we will stay in contact and those good memories will be relived in Facebook messages and reunions. Some people are only a phone call away, regardless of how many years have separated us. In moments of crisis I know who’s really there for me, and I’m grateful for each and every one of them.