So let me set the context for this post.
A couple of years ago, I decided to undertake my own little social experiment.
And nope, don’t worry – I wasn’t going to be parading around Piccadilly Circus in my underwear or anything like that.
Though props to the girls who do have the confidence to do that!
Instead, I decided to stop reaching out to friends and see which of them reached out to me.
This may seem a bit weird and self-centred to those of you who might not know me well.
But in general, I am always the person that used to reach out to friends, the one to organise get togethers, holidays and activities.
I was always the one hosting people for dinner, inviting people round, organising parties and generally ‘making the first move’ in friendship terms.
And as much as I wasn’t ‘giving’ to ‘receive’, I was getting a little tired of the effort not being made by both parties.
So, I thought I’d stop reaching out to people and wait and see how long it took for them to drop me a message.
SPOILER: about two thirds of them NEVER spoke to me again.
So today’s post is basically a little emotional brain fart about friendship and whether doing that social experiment was a good idea.
What constitutes as a good friend?
I’m certainly not the friendship guru (case and point above), but to me a friendship is a two sided thing.
It takes two to tango, and all that.
Just like a relationship, a friendship should bring something to the table.
We have different friends for different reasons (read more about that here).
You’ll have Sarah who is a complete hoot and can make you cry laugh within minutes of seeing her, you’ll have Sally who knows everything about everyone and fills you in on all the things you don’t pick up on, you’ll have Susan from work who reciprocates your eye rolls in meetings and is there to share work woes over a sandwich with.
Then you’ll have Barbara who is your go-to for advice, Beatrice who is your ultimate organised travel buddy and then Bella who shares your love of music and inspires you to venture off to gigs and festivals.
And you might even have friends whose names don’t ALL begin with the same letter.
But you never know, I had three friends at school called Charlotte.
Anyway, my point is – a good friend doesn’t necessarily have to fit into set criteria, but they do have to add to your life in some way. However small or huge that ‘way’ may be.
There’s a reason you’re drawn back to people and perhaps I’m just too much of a sensible Scarlett that I don’t really have my ‘draw’ for friends to want to stick around.
Or maybe we weren’t compatible in the first place. Who knows?
For me a good friend could be kind, thoughtful, have a fabulous sense of humour and also not take themselves too seriously.
It also helps if they’re reliable, because if you are constantly being let down by the same person over and over, it can be a bit frustrating at times.
I think back to the old-friends I’ve never heard of since the experiment and I wonder whether I was being a good friend to any of them.
Or maybe it was just a case of, ‘people come and go throughout your life’ for various reasons.
It’s the people that stick around that count.
Am I adding to people’s lives?
This is a really tricky one for me, because I over analyse EVERYTHING.
I’m getting a lot better but I still find myself pondering over something I said to a friend days later, just in case there was a minuscule chance they could have taken it in the wrong way.
But if I was to write a friendship CV, then I think mine would look rather appealing to any prospective acquancances.
I’m a good listener, I’m loyal and I can take you a SNAZZY new Instagram picture that’s going to get you at least 50 likes.
If you’re having a crappy time at work, with friends or even body image, I’ll always find the time to pop you over a message of encouragement or love.
And equally, I will also genuinely support you and cheer the loudest when something amazing happens in your life.
Because isn’t it the most amazing feeling to see the people you love do well!
It totally is!
But I guess we don’t have friendship CV’s IRL, so maybe the true value of a friendship isn’t always properly shown off to its true potential.
There’s definitely some things I could improve on – my ‘banter’ isn’t always up to scratch and I cannot voice-note to save my life – but hey, everyone needs something to work on!
Do we need lots of friends?
I found Vix’s post a couple of days ago really interesting, as she spoke about not having that ‘forever’ friend that’s been with you through every life moment, grown up with you through Primary school and who you still venture off on girly holidays with now.
I also don’t have that forever friend.
I’ve definitely tried to stay in touch with people over the years but no-one’s really reciprocated, so following my ‘social experiment’ a few years ago, I just kind of left the idea alone.
But in hindsight, many of the friends I used to have probably weren’t ones I need right now.
I spoke recently on my Instagram about how open I am as a person and how I’ve previously been very transparent with friends about money and how much I’m earning.
I know it’s a bit of a taboo subject, but I am a very open person and didn’t see the harm in talking about it.
Until to my surprise, I had a backlash I never expected.
Past friends would make snide remarks about how easy what I was doing was and how ‘anyone could do it’, while others would leave me to pay the entire bill when dining out because ‘I could afford it’.
I’m not saying these people were jealous, but it was a very strange and unexpected reaction towards someone you supported.
So perhaps they did me a favour.
In all honesty, I do believe people come in and out of your life at certain intervals to teach you things or to support different situations.
We don’t NEED hundreds of friends and garnering a loving, wonderful and ‘forever’ support system takes years and years.
I am lucky in that I’ve found some amazing souls as of late including the incredible Misha and her mum Kasha who have been so kind and supportive to me these last few months, my boyfriend David and the lovely Laura.
Of course, I have my beautiful little sister Zara, my mum, my dad and my grandmother. So I’m definitely NOT hard done by in any shape or form in terms of fulfilling friendships.
And so to all those friendships that I essentially ‘ghosted’ and then lost, RIP.
Maybe it was for the best.
Have you made a similar friendship discovery recently? Do you only have a small circle of friends?
And if you fancy being friends and my ‘CV’ tickled your fancy, then apply within!