A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a blogger event hosed by a mobile phone company. I like getting invited to things, especially blogger things, where I can wear sequins in socially acceptable situations rather than at the supermarket in the middle of the day. Getting an invitation automatically makes me feel cool, popular, a girl about town. So I pulled on a favorite sparkly blouse and excitedly left my house, eager to mingle with bloggers, nibble on canapes and maybe get my hands on a gift bag.
I expected to walk into the showroom and be greeted by friendly, welcoming faces - women who were just as excited to meet me as I was them. However, the other attendees were tightly clustered in the back of the room, glaring at me. They didn't introduce themselves. The didn't say hello. They didn't smile. They whispered in low, conspiratorial tones, sneaking looks at my shoes.
After twenty minutes of wandering around, faking deep interest in cellular data plans, I slunk out.
On the way home, I tried to figure out what had gone wrong. What was so appalling about me that no one said hello? Why didn't anyone talk to me? The more I thought about it, the more horrified I became. What was wrong with me, anyway? Are my current friends just pretending to like me? AM I DESTINED TO BE ALONE, FRIENDLESS, SPENDING MY NIGHTS DRINKING FRANZIA AND EATING LEAN CUISINE IN THE DARK WHILE WATCHING GOSSIP GIRL WITHOUT A SOUL TO TALK TO???
I'm not great at being bad at things. When I was in high school and had an audition for orchestra, I locked myself in a practice room for weeks and played scales over and over again, drawing the attention of my friends, who thought I'd lost my grip on sanity. I cut myself off from my family, skipped meals, procrastinated on homework, and generally made those around me miserable. I had to get first chair. And since then, I have felt that failure just isn't an option.
I view friendships in the same way. I want to be good at them. No, I want to be great at them. I want to be your deepest confidant, the woman you call when you hear of a sale at Anthropologie or have a fight with your husband. I want to have inside jokes and go thrifting with you and hotly debate which character on Beverly Hills 90210 had better hair, Brenda or Kelly. I want you to call me in the middle of the night to share some random bit of gossip you found on Twitter. I want to be the best friend you've ever had. And I want every woman to want to be friends with me.
This desperation to be liked has been a thorn in my side. It's led me to overlook some pretty deplorable behavior in past friendships. I've tolerated being talked about behind my back. I've struggled with setting limits and saying no, becoming the woman others stick with volunteer projects and hosting duties and personal shopping requests. I've stayed friends with people who have hurt me, trying to forgive but unable to really forget. I've avoided confrontation like the plague. It's much more difficult to make friends as an adult than a teenager, and because of that, I've been reluctant to admit that a friendship has failed.
But I'm coming to the realization that it's okay to fail at certain friendships, and perfectly fine to grow out of some and let them go. As I've transitioned from college student to newlywed to mother to self-sufficient woman, I've cycled through different groups of friends. Each friendship taught me something about myself and reflected the phase I was in at the time. There are some people I am just not going to be friends with, no matter what I do. Not everyone is going to like me. And there are other friendships that aren't meant to last forever. Some people are meant to drift in and out of your life, and that's okay.
I'm grateful to have so many amazing people in my life right now, and finally have the understanding that friendship is more about quality over quantity. The friends that are meant to stick around will.
Have you struggled with letting go of certain friends? Have you ever felt you failed at a female friendship? Do you think it's harder to make friends as you get older? Have you cycled through different groups of friends? Or are you still close with women you knew from childhood?