Do me a favour, jump up and turn on E4 quickly. There’s some American sitcom on, right? Might be a good one, probably be a bad one; one thing I can guarantee is that it’s based around a group of friends who are completely inseparable. This is the kind of friendship group we have thrust upon us by every TV show and movie. Sex and the City, Friends, Grey’s Anatomy, Entourage even bloody Tracy Beaker; all of them based around a seemingly unbreakable group of friends.
So when you don’t have this kind of friendship, when you never have had. It feels like you’ve been doing something wrong.
I’ve never been part of one of these groups, not really.
At school we had our group of girls; we played on the same sports teams, we had sleepovers together, we would of course sit together in every possible lesson. But I always felt like I was just on the edges of the group, not in the centre. I had other friends too, friends with the same music taste as me, friends who I would sit and watch play terrible indie rock on their sticker-covered guitars at lunchtime. Slowly I was pushed further to the edges of the group and as we grew, once we left school, I stopped being invited to meet ups.
I was in a seemingly rock-solid group of girls for a few years, the kind that seem exactly like what you see on telly (and not just because of our combined dramas). But life happened, as it does, and that’s not a thing anymore. I’ve gotten past the blame side of that, but I still miss feeling like I had a tribe.
I cannot put into words how grateful I am to have the friends I do have. I know there are two or three I can text when life is going to shit and they will always be there. They don’t need daily updates or get pissed off when I forget to reply. These friends are incredible and I love them with all my heart. However they all come from different places, I know them through different people, we hang out separately. We will never have a group Whatsapp.
I’ve not done anything at the ‘right’ time, my life is generally a bit of a shambles and not what many would call a success, but the rest of it doesn’t bother me. I don’t mind that I’m twenty five with a child and no career. I don’t mind that the chances of me owning a house before I’m thirty are so slim American Apparel want to hire them. I don’t even really mind surviving on the minimum. But for some reason this is the one thing that does bother, this is where I feel I’ve failed. Yet I couldn’t tell you why that’s the case.
I think a lot of it is being reminded how awesome these friendship groups can be by seeing it so close-up. I watch my boyfriend and his friends in this incredible, rock-solid group that plan trips and nights out and are in constant contact and I get jealous. I look at the matching profile pictures and hear a million stories of times gone by and all I can think is that I don’t have that.
Jealousy is a feeling we’re not supposed to feel past the age of 16. Once we leave school the silly school yard games are supposed to end. But we all know that’s not the case. We’re surrounded by examples of the best possible life; a job you love, a house you love, a perfect relationship, and a group of super fun friends. If you’re missing part of that it can seem like you’re failing miserably.
I’ve been thinking about the lack of a ‘group’ a lot recently and I think maybe it is just me. Not in a ‘woe is me why does nobody love me’ way, more because I’ve yet to find a group of people where I feel I really fit. At school I would rather listen to the Libertines with boys with greasy hair than sunbathe while listening to Girls Aloud. After that I didn’t understand being friends with other mums just because you all had kids the same age. Or I didn’t find the best way to express myself, or stand up for other people. Or sometimes I just really want to be alone, left the fuck alone.
I mentioned this feeling on Twitter last week and a lot of people agreed with me that by not having a solid tribe it feels like there’s something essential missing in your life. We all appreciate the friends we do have, but still feel like in some way we’ve failed at growing up.
I know what posting this will cause, people telling me I have them and they love me and all the wonderful things we want to hear. But I know that. I know I have who I have and blessed I am to have them.
But really, I just want to have that kind of friendship with group of people who you share a past with and you know you’ll share your future with. A group of people who make it possible for me to book more than a table for four. A group of people you know that at any time of the day you have a whole team of people who have your back. No matter what.