For those who are over the age of 30, or have made a conscientious decision to boycott TV (why?!), New Girl is, essentially, the 2010's equivalent of Friends: a group of twenty-somethings living together, and the problems - and laughs - that this creates. As I said, I went through the entire second series (that's eighteen episodes) in a day or two last month. But even after a few weeks respite, something that one of the characters said has stuck with me, and I've found myself asking myself this question:
"If you met your friends today, would you still be friends with them?"
I'm an only child. So is my Dad. And my cousins on my mum's side all live in on the other side of the world. Consequently, our family unit is about as small as it could be. Over the years, I've built up a group of friends who have pretty much substituted as siblings for me. They're the ones who I phone if I've got a problem, want a gossip, or swap clothes with. Recently, I've pretty much burnt bridges with half of them. A couple were exes, and I got let down by them - I wanted to be friends, but they, or their girlfriends, had other ideas, which I can understand. That's ok. Time's a healer. Others I've realised that their relationship with me might not be the same as mine with them; they don't call to hang out, gossip, or chat. At first, I put it down to most of them being third years at university - not all of us can be History of Art students with a 5 hour weekly timetable! This is where Facebook's a killer: when your friends don't ask you out, and you see the photos of them getting drunk and going out, you automatically ask yourself - "why wasn't I invited? Is there something wrong with me? Have I done something bad?" It reminded me of a line in a movie that was on TV recently, He's Just Not That Into You. In it, Drew Barrymore's character reminisces about 'the good old days', when people only had one landline, and one answering machine - which either had a message on it, or it didn't. Nowadays, with Facebook, Twitter, Email, Cellphone, and a hundred other mediums of communication, we're rejected on a host of different medias every day - and it's exhausting. So, I guess another question is: what do you do if your friends 'just aren't that into you'?
Well, you could try reaching out to them. But, as I've learned, to be rebuffed and then see photographic evidence of a night out you weren't invited to, is pretty much self-confidence suicide. You could try and make yourself less dependable on your friends, but come on, who wants to be a Norman no-mates, alone every Friday night while all the Facebook statuses roll in about pre-drinks, club nights, and hook-ups? Not me, no thank you. You might think about taking yourself off Facebook, and just saving yourself the hassle and some humility - but then that's just another way of cutting yourself off from civilisation, and one further step to becoming the hermit cat lady who dresses in bin bags. Maybe you need to take a step back, and ask yourself the tough question: are these people really your friends?
Friendship, for me, a lot of the time is about habit. You were friends at school, when you were all shoved together and forced to chose people you got along with to make your time more bearable. Or in university halls, and ditto. They're the people that, when you meet up for a drink, you can say "remember when..." and they do. They know who you were, who you are now, and all the bits in-between, and that's nice. But sometimes, friendship with those people is habitual. People change. They fall in love, they make new friends, they're influenced by existential circumstances you have no power or control over, or can even relate to. Ironically, those I would call my 'best friends' are often people that I didn't have any contact with for years. Even though I haven't been kept up to date on every minuscule happening in their lives, we still never shut up when we finally have a chat. They're like a bookmark in your life: you pick up where you left off. If we continue with this metaphor, other friends are like the wind: they come and fuck up where you were, and you can't remember what happened.
Over the last few weeks, I've discarded quite a few 'windy' friends. A lot, I think, has to do with the fact that I'm planning on moving back to Australia; that I'm off to start a new life, on the other side of the world, and don't need to take any extra baggage with me (in a metaphorical sense. I'll probably have loads of extra baggage.). I guess I've felt like I have nothing to lose by being honest. I've told a few that I'm disappointed with them (that old 'Mum word'), that I've been hurt by them, or I've simply not said anything, and come to terms with the fact that it might not be the end of the world.
To make sure I wasn't going insane with the 'immense pressure' of my final year, I asked a mate if she had ever felt the same. She replied that she has, and does, regularly. It's the wound that is inflicted when you put yourself out there for someone, and they don't reciprocate in the same way, if at all. I suppose sometimes, you have to think of your friends a bit like a boyfriend: if they're not there for you when you need them, if they let you down and make you feel belittled and self-doubting, then there's no point in letting them continue to make you feel like that. Sacrifice in any relationship is good; self-martyrdom is not. Remember, the only person who will be there 'til the very end is you - you might as well make it a pleasant journey.
What are your thoughts?