The End Of The Big Friendship Group

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Some of my favourite ever memories (and 92% of my worst) involve being an 18-year-old with my phone stuffed down my bra, my New Look heels tied to my handbag, and a VK firmly clasped in my hand whilst I ‘got low’ amongst a throng of pals on a night out.

When you’re that age you’re surrounded by so many people. So many people that will eventually drift out of your life. People that probably make up the majority of your Facebook feed. People that you knew from college, or your Saturday job or from the girl’s loos at your local club. People that you would probably go out of your way to avoid if you bumped into them now in Tesco.

OMG LOOK HOW INTERESTING THESE BOOKS ABOUT GARDENING AND BIRDS ARE, HMMMMM.

Are they gone?

Did they see me?

Wait, did they lose a bit of weight?

OMG what if they think I got fat?

I’m so embarassed. I hate life.

You have so many ‘best friends’ when you’re 18. Probably because you’re in a constant cheap alcohol haze and so you’ll talk to everyone, you have this new found confidence that’s never been there before. You love everyone. You hate some people. You have drama. You make drama. You change friends. You go back to your old friends.

I look back now and everyone feels so disposable. It’s like I was, all of us, were going round and assessing people. Testing people. Seeing who we fancied being mates with for life. Who slotted in with us the firmest. Who made us feel comfortable and confident and ourselves.

I’m writing this and I’ve suddenly got a surge of memories of all the people I tried to like, all the people I tried out as friends, all the people who failed. All the people who made me feel like a big ball of horrible-ness.

The friend who made me get into a car with boys I didn’t know for a cocaine run at 1am. Cheers pal.

The one who told a guy I fancied him (I’d legit never met him before – or even FB stalked him) whilst I was asleep and convinced him to get into bed with me and try it on.

The one who had sex in my brother’s bed and then asked if she could maybe do it in my bed instead.

The one who made me pick up a cat in the middle of the night because it made her sneeze, when I had a broken wrist.

The one who’d find out whenver I fancied a boy and then flirt with him aggressively until he liked her, just because she could.

And the one who stole £10 of Christmas money from my bag and then denied it. Fucker.

And then I think about all the good people I’ve met. All the people I’d still call my friends, maybe close friends, without having even seen them in a year. Maybe two years. Some of them maybe even longer.

I think about how much I’d love, just for 24 hours to have things the way they used to be before we grew up and got jobs and families and partners and moved around the country. I think about the picnics and the cider and the beach and the nights out and all the moments and the memories that will forever be lodged in the happy part of my brain.

I couldn’t handle being 18 again. Not really. I couldn’t handle the way life was so turbulent and unstable and I had no control over my emotions or actions and I didn’t know who I was the way I do now. I was so lost and insecure and desperate for everyone to like me and and love me, and I feel sad for that girl.

But I’d love that closeness again. That feeling that people were only a 5 minute drive away. That every day had new opportunities for adventures and explorations and gossip and mischief.

Like the day we got drunk at 10am at sixth form and were hungover by 5pm. Totally unplanned.

Or the time we blew off 5th period because we just really fancied shopping in Brighton and we called the school reception from a phone box to say we were ill so we’d still get EMA.

I miss the spontaneity of being 18 and of being with my friends. Of being with all my friends. Of being a part of a giant friendship group. I miss getting that much social interation, and I feel like maybe, just maybe, I took it for granted. I didn’t appreciate that one day, one day very soon, we’d all disperse and the era would be over forever.

Strangely, despite the fact every group meet-up with my fave pals takes months of planning, and despite the fact I rarely see any friends at all due to my location and the busyness of life, I feel less alone than ever.

I think loneliness doesn’t come from being alone physically. Maybe it comes from feeling alone in your own head, of being in a place where you are uncomfortable and it feels like people just don’t get you. Like when you are with people you know are not your people, friends that you know might not be your friend next week, people that make you feel bad about yourself.

Or when you are in a bad place mentally. Maybe you’re depressed or anxious or just feeling lost inside your own mind. These are the times when we feel loneliest, not when we’re physically away from people.

I get most of my social interaction from Chris, Rudey and my computer. I can iMessage friends from my Mac whilst I work and it’s the tweets and comments from strangers and people I’ve never met IRL that make me feel constantly surrounded.

In truth, I’ve never felt more engulfed by love, affection and the right sort of people. My people.

Things have changed forever. Christmas meet-ups are fleeting and there’s never enough time. Birthday meet-ups can feel forced and there’s always ALWAYS this awkwardness about where to stay and whether you can get home to your own bed and OMG HOW MUCH IS THE TRAIN FARE? And is it worth it and maybe you should just stay in your own house and sit on the sofa and watch Harry Potter instead and then maybe not check social media in case you get FOMO.

But it’s all OK. It’s OK to move onto a new life that doesn’t involve drunkenly sending friend requests to people you’re sitting next to in the smoking area.

And it’s OK to feel guilty about leaving people behind. You can’t take everyone with you for the ride. You simply can’t.

It’s weird to think that some of my best friends right now are people that I’ve known the longest. People that survived the most friendship tests over the longest period of time, people that fit next to me like a little jigsaw piece. People that will probably never become unslot from me, because if we’re not unslot already, is there anything that can break us apart?

And, although there are days when I’d give my little finger to be surrounded by everyone, to party on down like it’s 2008, I know a hundred times over that I’d much rather be in this happy un-lonely place without all the people.

Growing up is weird and nothing like I’d expected. ‘My parents have like, no friends, they’re such losers’.

LOL.

I totally get this now.

But srsly, if any of my friends are still reading my blog posts this far down the line then remember I love you. You’re bloody ace.

 

  • This post is so on point, I can’t even.
    And The Opposite of Loneliness is such an incredible book! So sad that Marina passed away, I reckon she could have been up there with the greatest writers of our generation.
    x

  • I’ve been thinking a lot along similar lines lately! When we’re that age, we’re at school or uni and constantly surrounded by people – we don’t really get the chance to be alone. But that doesn’t always stop us being lonely, especially if they’re the wrong people (and all those people you described sound like shits!) I sometimes wonder if I have “enough” friends but then realise that actually, I really do. I don’t have a huge group of friends but I have a variety of long-term friends who I might not talk to every day or even every month but when we do talk, it’s like we never stopped. Also, interestingly, the Opposite of Loneliness essay actually made me feel more lonely for not having experienced what Marina did at uni, which I think may have been the opposite of what she was aiming for haha. But I guess in our own ways, we all find our little bubbles of contentment xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua Italy

  • I’m 18 and reading this made me think of my future. Everything (not exactly everything, but most things) you said about being 18, I can totally relate to. I haven’t been out with my friends in 2 weeks and I feel like such a loser haha…It’s crazy to think that it won’t be this way forever, but seeing that you are perfectly fine with your small circle is reassuring. Love this post. 🙂

    http://www.from18tolife.co.uk

  • Lj

    This is exactly how I feel right now.
    And you’ve made me realise what is making me feel so lonely at the moment – it’s not that I’m actually physically on my own, it’s that my friends are all around the country and we’re no longer able to see each other at a moment’s notice and I’ve moved to a new city where I know basically no-one. I’m yet to make friends here, and that’s what is making me lonely.
    But I loved this post, it made me feel happy inside and reminiscent of the good times and I want to get my friends together this summer and act like we’re 18 again for a day. xo
    LJLV | UK Personal Style

  • This is one of those posts that makes me think “oh thank-god I’m not the only one!”. Some days I want nothing more than to cancel all my plans and sit at home, but then other days I’m convinced that everyone is having the time of their lives whilst I have no friends.

    & then Timehop doesn’t help with his little reminders of years gone by with – like you – nights out with a huge group of people.. most of who I no longer speak with!

    But overall.. I know deep down I have the people who matter the most around me & (although it was fun) I 100% do not miss all that drama that came with being 18!

    x

    Small&Blonde ♥

  • great post! I’ve left so many friends behind, going from a friendship group of about 25 people in secondary school and sixth form to about half that number in uni. I also totally understand the part about loneliness not being physical. When I first went to uni, I felt so lonely in my initial friendship group. The girls I met were nice girls but I just never felt like I could 100% be myself and like we really clicked. It was horrible, I’d literally never felt so alone in my life. But I’m so much happier now with friends that truly get me and who make me feel like the best version of myself.

  • These kind of posts are always a bit bizarre to me since I never really fitted in much with anyone but the 3/4 close friends I’d had since primary school: it’s like a lens into what the popular kids were doing while I sat there bitterly calling them chavs to myself like a dickhead because I freaking hated myself. (But was too young to realise, hey all teenagers hate themselve, get over it!)
    But anyways, I still relate with uni stuff when I started hanging out with new people. It’s funny how you pick up friends and drop so many – how things can start out nice and then turn to drama all of a sudden, and how you can have all these nice people as well that you duck to avoid because really what is there to talk about? But then you have people who you genuinely love as mates (flaws and all) and it can be literally years since you’ve spoken and you pick it back up no problem but for the occasional initial whittering about whether it’ll be awkward when you meet again.

  • I loved this. It’s so true and understandable. Before uni and moving away everyone will be friends with everyone, then you move away and realise who you don’t really want to talk to any more. You’d rather just the special ones than the fleeting ones. A night in by myself sounds so much better than a night out with people I don’t know that well and don’t really want to know. And I’m perfectly okay with that

    x
    https://siobhanrothwell.wordpress.com/

  • Georgina

    This was the best thing I’ve ever read, period. Thank you so much. Feel a bit emosh and relieved and CAN’T FIGURE OUT THE OTHER EMOTIONS. GAHHH

    G x
    foxonthehunt.com

  • Amazing post Hannah, you completely nailed how I feel about friendship as you get older and I’m so glad I’m not the only one!!

  • Eve

    Love this post- it is soooo true!

    I wrote a similar one yesterday, check it out: http://anorganisedscatterbrain.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/why-growing-up-shows-you-who-your-real.html?showComment=1435303350247&m=1

    Eve xo

  • Lovely post! I’ve just finished university and moved to a different city and you do realise who your true friends really are, the ones that make an effort to stay in contact and who you’ve known the longest. I have been best friends with my best friend since primary school and even if she were to be my only friend I’d be happy with that, true friends are all that matter!

    http://laurenslittleblogs.blogspot.co.uk/

  • You’ve nailed it again (obvs, every time) but I have ben feeling this way a lot – especially with having moved abroad and come back again to a new way of doing friendship. I think the way you know if they are friends for life (or not) is when you see them after a long time apart it’s the same as it always was and no one resents each other for not having texted every day etc. Everyone has busy lives now and real friends understand that. Sophie xxx
    http://www.fashionnomads.com

  • Hey Hannah
    This post is genius. It’s exactly how I feel/ what I have been experiencing.

    Thank you xxx

  • I love this post so much, everything you write it so chatty and easy to read x

  • Anon

    Thank you for this – really really thank you! For a good year now I’ve felt like such an alien because I’ve pretty much lost the small social circle that I had as people have moved, started their careers and progressed into the early stages of adulthood. And whilst I am sad that we don’t hang out that often, and we do hang out there is that awkwardness and things slightly forced, I am actually learning to be perfectly happy doing things by myself (God thank Netflixs, the Internet and copious amounts of snacks!). Plus I’m steadily learning that a small group of good friends is a hell of a lot better than a large group where you can’t stand most of them!

    Keep up the good work on the blog Hannah!

  • Every bloody time Hannah! Can relate to so much of this. It’s sad and recently I’ve been reminiscing a lot about all those nights lost in a drunken haze, realising I have no idea what happened to half of the people I used to do bad things with. I can’t remember the last time I made a new friend on a night out! I don’t even go out anymore, and I miss those heady nights running around thinking I owned my local club.

    The problem with letting go of all the supporting roles is when your circle becomes so small you actually alienate yourself. I learned that lesson when my best mate and my boyfriend of 6 years got together – I realised I had focused so much on them that I hadn’t let other people into my life.

    You’ve also made me realise that this is why I like blogging – after uni I really struggled with not being part of a community and networking with other bloggers has given me a sense of that again. Too bad it’s mainly twitter interaction rather than being able to go for a coffee with these new friends.

  • So true… It’s a weird feeling when you realise the people you once thought were your closest friends are no longer that.

    A weird feeling and gut wrenching, but ultimately, it’s the best thing that could have happened? This is mostly when you realise the ones that stuck by everything are your true friends.

    F x

    http://www.joieandthevivre.com

  • This post is so perfect and so, so, SO true! I loved it.

  • I usually glance at long, wordy blog posts and skim read half of it leading to giving up and moving on. But with your posts I’m literally glued to the screen and before I know it I’m at the end of the post. You inspire me to write and without sounding too stalker-ish you’re officially my favourite blogger!

  • You picked the perfect book to photograph with this post, one of the only things that I have ever read that made me cry like a baby. I’m 18 now, but I can already see this happening, and, most importantly, see myself in this post. You manage to write about my emotions perfectly, and for that I’m incredibly thankful.

    Julia

    ExploresMore.com

  • I loved reading this. I guess I’m still in the teen stage of my life where I’m surrounded by loads of people but they’re not all really my friends and things come and go and this really made me think! I want to enjoy being young but it’s good to know that I’ve got something settled to look forward too where I’m not lonely even though I’m amongst people! And I’m going to start looking out for forever friend candidates right now lol 😉


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