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’.
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.