I was reading Pepper’s blog post here about friendships and I wanted to write a comment, which ended up being an essay on its own. So I thought, I may as well type out what I feel about my friends and friendships.
I was talking to a guy the other day, and he said something on the lines of, the more you live in USA, the lesser friends you tend to have. It made me think and I realized it’s not completely wrong. At least in my case, the statement holds weight. The only part being different for me was USA. This has happened to me every time that I changed schools or colleges. I have always had hesitation in talking to new people that I meet, and my insecurities about myself tends to compound the situation into total absurdity. I have switched so many schools, and my experiences with getting bullied, have made friendships difficult. For some reason, sustaining friendships was also a hard task for me. But it changed quite a bit in college, where I found some life-long friends(hopefully). Having verbal diarrhea is also not a big help.
Talking about friends in India, we were a group of girls and boys in the engineering college who are still together on different levels with each other. The girl group(we were roommates) is still together on Whatsapp. But my relationship with them is quite non-existent. The onus lies on my own personality issues too, but I will not take the blame on myself completely. I think I have stopped trying to please people, which was a compulsive habit even till a couple of years back and that has resulted in some acidic conversations. I do not feel welcome there, and so I don’t feel like I am a part of that group. Exceptions being of course Ani and Moo and I hope they understand my point of view. From the group of boys, I am friends with most of the boys who I was friends with earlier, but there are two people who are firmly within my circle of trust. Hazra and Shib are, and will always be family, and it makes me very happy that they are aware of this and reciprocate.
After moving to USA, I have switched between people and between groups and had reached a point where I needed only two people. The xBF and Abhi. The situation got weird after the xBF left, but Abhi made the time easier for me. We are not in the same cities. But he and Nisha are among the people I can count on if I get in trouble. Abhi is like the brother I would have had if I had one. I like to think that they are aware that I can be counted on if they ever need me to be there.
I have another really close friend who I work with and workout with(we recently paid extra for the gym membership, so that we can continue that after trying to work out alone since the last July). We have our lunch together where the other accompanies the person even if they have a lunch box, and we meet over the weekends to watch movies and have lunch again. We share stories, jokes, frustrations and work gossip and we yell at each other. People have mistaken us to be dating, but they realize eventually that we have turned into siblings, squabbling with each other. So that makes a grand total of THREE people around me who are friends in real sense of the word.
After a certain age, the dynamics of friendships change from complete buddy to people needed to spend evenings with, and even to call in case of emergencies. I may have a lot of friends around me, but friend-friend is becoming the Loch-Ness monster of people. There is a need to lower the bar of expectations when it comes to friendships. You cannot expect someone to show up when you crave a steaming bowl of Pho, leaving their partner or their kid behind. It is just like how you will not show up to spend an evening at the bar with your buddy during a work week. Situations change, priorities change, and the biggest cause of worry, proximity to each other changes. If we talk about making new friends in Grad school or at work, friendship thrives when you let your guard down, and that is seemingly impossible with so much competition involved. It is a cut throat world, and most people tend to hide their vulnerabilities.
When younger, friendship is a survival tactic. Proximity in school, college puts you together. You need someone to kill time with, to say the least. When family, partner, work and life are thrown into the equation, the unstructured relation of friendship becomes more vulnerable to collapse. It is no longer a real necessity. How well one deals with friends and balances relationships, depends on an individual’s personality and the need for social fulfilment. If they make a FRIENDS 2.0 I am sure Rachel and Phoebe haven’t met each other in 3 years. And Ross hasn’t heard from Joey since he moved away.
In the end, it all boils down to this insanely accurate definition.