Why we shouldn’t kill our friend…ships

Growing up there were three interweaving families who would spend all their time together; the adults would drink wine and discuss life and the children would play  and make a mess. They planted a tree of friendship, proving that if we nurture our bonds correctly they can flourish into something everlasting.

Anny and I bonded over being the rejects of the group. Our siblings weren’t interested and made us sit at the “baby table” which was basically a table with a highchair and one baby. We soon realised we had much more fun without them (after all, we now had our own small person to bully) and alas, it was the start of a new era.

I was 4 or 5 when I met Anny. Our friendship was unique because she was two years above me in school and unlike my other friends, we began to heavily depend on each other. By the time we were 11 we were inseparable, spending all our weekends, holidays and even weekdays together. When we were apart we would call each other just to sit there in silence and still feel connected.

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Anny and I became each others life reference and loved each other completely. We were constantly getting in trouble for being loud; we would laugh until we cried and make up wild stories. We argued a lot too. I think I dominated the friendship with my loudness, whilst Anny was more shy and reserved. I had no qualms revealing my anger which meant my outbursts caused her pain. This pattern grew followed into adulthood because we never quite learnt how to hear each other; we never got to the root of what was truly bothering us…

Anny went through everything with me: we shared a grunge-phase, urban-phase, our first kiss, first beer, first joint, first fight, first boyfriend, first breakup, first holiday, first rave and even first adult movie (when we accidentally strolled into a screening of Ali G and missed Russell Crowe’s A Beautiful Mind – yessss)!

Over the years we’ve collected so many hand-made cards, filled with private childhood jokes. We went from from kids, to teens, to adults and I honestly can’t think of a single person who knows my history better than she does. And that’s because she is my history. There was even a time when our parents felt we should spend less time together, so we pretended we had other friends to visit (yeah right) and spent the night on the train. 14 years of age, I remember being so tired that when when we reached the last stop my shoe came off and almost left with it.

At 23, Anny found me a job at her workplace and we were practically running the office. To say we took the piss is an absolute understatement. We would bring in so much food into work (having buffet breakfasts and lunches every day) and then spend all our money on dinner and drinks because we still wanted to be together. Some days one of us would keep guard whilst the other went shopping, but mostly we would just watch movies, eat popcorn and plan what we’d be doing at the weekend.

Within a few months of working together we saved for a deposit and moved in to our first flat in Leytonstone. It was initially a magical time, we felt liberated and free, young and independent. Apparently our families placed bets on how long it was going to last, nice! But I guess they were right in having reservations, 9 months later were tense. We were upsetting each other so much and not communicating without shouting or bitching. We didn’t want to be nice or considerate or even share with eachother any more.

There were a several factors which made our house-share unsuccessful: splitting finances, too many visitors, not enough space and even a rodent infestation! It became a living nightmare. Our friendship felt like it’d reached a point of no return. We behaved  so petty towards one another, showing that we could be two-faced and selfish. To be fair it was a brave face to show – one that could only be provoked by significantly deep rooted pain and care.

When Anny and I went our separate ways, we didn’t speak for a year. It was the closest thing I have experienced to a divorce, with people forming their own opinions and naturally picking a side. I guess it makes sense, when you hear one version of an account and feel pain on their behalf. I’m grateful for the people who stayed neutral during that time because whilst everyone was trying to show support, sometimes the best thing to do is take a non-judgemental stance.

Things became awkward, any time our mutual friends were in town we’d see them separately – things were too raw and fragile to be swept under the carpet. Weddings, birthdays and more were missed, based on a dispute between two girls who were once friends. Needless to say, with the right amount of space and time, our ill-feelings subsided and we started to move on.

In 2015 I visited Amsterdam knowing Anny’s sister would be there. I didn’t reach out because I didn’t want to put her in an uncomfortable situation. To my surprise, it was her who reached out to me and we had drinks near Westerpark, at a gin and seafood restaurant. The gesture alone was healing for me; I was so grateful and even now, I’m pretty sure it’s thanks to her that Anny and I were able to rebuild.

I know that things can’t be the way they were, Anny and I can’t be attached at the hip because we’re adults on separate journeys. Sometimes people ask how we’re still friends and I just think, how could we not be friends? If something happened to Anny and she left the world believing I held a grudge, I could never forgive myself. I would much rather have her in my life and shower her with love. Whilst it’s true that we may be responsible for tainting the perceptions others have of each other, one thing can’t be untouched: the permanent place I have for Anny and an everlasting love for our friendship.

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How to be The Hottest of your Friends

Having spent a long weekend with one of the most beautiful girls I know, I started to think about our friendship, how it has changed over the years and the impact of having friends who, despite their individuality, are no doubt conventionally beautiful.

My friends are all gorgeous, inside and out, but, like everyone, they have things about themselves they don’t like. My physical hang-ups have mainly revolved around my body: not being thin enough; being unable to get rid of my stretch-marks, cellulite etc. Now that I’m 26, the lines around my eyes are a reminder that I’m getting older; I don’t leave the house without my concealer.

There is not a single friend who I haven’t compared myself to. I have a round face with full cheeks so the moment I’m next to somebody whose face is more defined, I begin to feel like a chipmunk. Before being written off as a narcissist, I aim to explore what it is that makes many of us women feel discontent with what we have and who we are; our constant need to self improve and be “the best” amid our troop. Indeed, you will have to bare with me, bare with me, the way I bare myself after a night out and three makeup wipes.

An insecure woman can make a very dangerous friend. Which is a shame considering we’re all full of insecurities. I remember being 14 and telling my friends I wouldn’t be joining them at the arcade because that way they’d have less competition to deal with. It’s shameful, but at the time I was fueled with rivalry and self-doubt. I remember being vain and angry; insecure; wanting to prove some kind of point to the world (the world being me because that’s who it revolved around).

Quite recently, I had an awkward encounter with a friend who before a night out kept comparing our features. She went on tell me how good she was feeling about herself and then asked if I was feeling good too, which made me question what her deal was. Was she feeling good about herself? Or was she trying to make me feel bad about myself?

Perhaps she genuinely wanted me to feel good, without wishing to dish out a compliment. Whatever it was, it was a situation I analysed immediately due to my own female knowing. This is a friend who usually rocks out in sweats, with so much intelligence and typically against female objectification. The whole episode surprised me, but I’ve used it as an example to highlight how girls sometimes set themselves apart rather than sticking together. Based on our human complexity, it’s hard to stay awake in a society which celebrates disillusioned exteriors.

When I first visited my German friend, aged 17, I recall how alien it felt for me to receive little admiration. I can pathetically admit that prior to this trip, the majority of self-gratification I received stemmed from being “pretty”. I soon learnt how it felt to feel inadequate; invisible next to somebody regarded “physically better”.

In hindsight, this trip was a big lesson for me. I was finally able to empathise with girls who never feel physically good enough, who are constantly compared and belittled themselves based on not fitting an aestethic mold. It was a wake up call to invest energy into other areas, to reevaluate my substance and stop being so goddam pathetic.

Thanks to the learning, I transformed what was a superficial friendship and realised the corners it had left to explore. In recent years, on the occasions where my friend and I go out, it is no longer about the people around us; our eyes stay focused on eachother because the leers of strangers are irrelevant. We appreciate our true beauty: our humor, consideration, trust and sisterhood. Truth is you can’t always be everyones cup of tea and who gives a fuck? Do you want to be someones trophy? Or do you want to be seen as a whole?

 

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I find men often act as the catalysts for female friends to turn against each other. There have been countless times I’ve witnessed guys throwing shallow & empty compliments at one female whilst ignoring the other. What they are doing is basically saying only one friend is worth engaging with, whilst the other is fine being ignored. It’s an unfortunate truth that humans can be fickle, we judge with our eyes before understanding what we’re looking for. It might be true that we can’t help who we’re physically attracted to, but we can definitely find a more considerate way to connect with strangers.

I recall nights out, you know, the “fun before the fun”, when my friends and I have transformed from “girls-next-door” to “girls-on-fleek”. We could spend a good solid hour gaping in front of the mirror, with a familiar feeling of angst in the air. The elephant in the room, our egos, are never acknowledged. It can be a painful and strained grooming ritual; I feel sad that our strategy to confidence-build requires so much irrelevant effort.

We are all special and unique in our own way – no stranger should be able to dictate whether we’re good enough. When faced with that familiar stab of competitiveness, I now talk about it and laugh it off – there’s just so much more to life. Forget about how you appear to others and dress up for yourself – leaving your ego at the door. We are far from a perfect species and never will be, but we can certainly boost the confidence of those we love on levels more profound than just surface.

Girls