Powered by Blogger.

Friend: 9 ways to be a better pal in 2015

Ok, so I am not really qualified at all to tell you how to be a better pal. I have no degrees or A-Levels in pyschology or anything to do with human friendship and interaction, however I did just spend 43 minutes dragging my arse (which seems to have grown by realistically 1 stone but feels like 147 over Christmas) around Victoria Park trying to distract myself from all the pain of my first January run by thinking about the things I do that make me good and bad at friendship. So that is something. I think when it comes to me and friendship, there is certainly room for improvement. I am not a bad friend in an Eastenders way - I am not sleeping with my friend's boyfriend and plotting to kill them - just I could do better. I could be the one to text first more, make myself more available, be a little more supportive. So I guess this post should really be called "How I am going to be a better pal this year" but I am hoping there are some thoughts in there that anyone who reads this can take with them too.

Over Christmas I watched Sex and the City the movie for the first time in years and then inspired dusted off the box set. The big love stories in that series aren't between Carrie and Big, or Charlotte and Harry, or Steve and Miranda, they are between the girls themselves. And it made me realise, I don't have friendships quite like that. I do have many wonderful wonderful friends, who I really love and who make me laugh, make me cry, make me want to be a lovelier person; but I don't see them or speak to them every day - which the SATC crew seem to do even though they don't live together - , not all of them know the most up to date and most intimate details of my life, I don't know who I'd pick as my bridesmaids if I was getting married tomorrow, nor indeed who if anyone would pick me.

In a lot of sitcoms around friendship - Friends, How I Met your Mother, the Big Bang Theory, Sex and the City people seem to have practically no friends outside of the group. Who in real life has that?? 4 friends of course would be pretty manageable, but in reality we have loads and the numbers just grow and grow as we get older, when our spare time gets smaller and smaller (and if you are me, your bedtime gets earlier and earlier).

Easy peasy to put time into your friendships when you are 12. Sure you are not so dramatic and fall out over your friend copying you and buying the same pencil case nowadays, but back then take you really did put in the hours. You had to - you were legally obliged to go to school, which handily is where all your pals hung out. At university, sure I had a little side project - "getting a degree" - but whatever, my main project was friendship, and I had all the time in the world to work on it. And indeed the energy - I was never so tired at the end of the week that watching TV, eating pizza and going to bed at 11 seemed like a better idea than going out.

But now the hours each day I put into working, and indeed sleeping, has increased ten fold (ok that is an exaggeration), and I have a boyfriend. Bloody hell, and that is a drain on your time and energy if ever there was one. And cocktail nights with the girls cost like 6 times as much now we are no longer satisfied with mixing white wine, vodka and red bull in a mixing bowl, and pouring it in a glass with an umbrella in it.

So how can you have friends like Friends, whilst living in the real world? Well, I am not sure whether it is always possible, but these are the 9 things I am going to vow to do in 2015 to make me a little bit of a better pal.

1. Respect my friends are different from me, and that is ok. So I was tempted to put a collage of me and all my pals on various drunken and silly nights out, and then I thought, "hey my friends might not want me to post unflattering photos of them tipsy on the internet for anyone who wants to to see" so ta da. No collage. I am not really the most private person, so posting my innermost thoughts on the worldwide web isn't particularly scary for me. Similarly I'll tell my friends everything and anything, and I associate that open-ness with friendship. But actually, everyone is different and just because your friend doesn't fancy sharing intimate details of their sex life/ that they are applying for a new job/ how much they hate their future mother-in-law etc doesn't mean they're not a friend. People are different, my friends are different from me, that is what makes the world, and our friendship, interesting.

2. It is never weird to send that text/card/email etc. You see a picture a celeb posts on instagram that reminds you of a trip you've taken with your pal, but you haven't spoken in ages. You remember it's your friend's birthday and you see a card they would find hilarious, but you don't send each other cards, you normally just text. You see a cute little present which is super cheap, and is perfect for them, but there is no occassion. The number of times I haven't done the nicer thing because I am wary of coming over too nice - creepy. But unless the person who is sending me pictures/cards/texts because they "thought of me" is actually some weird man I gave my number to 4 years ago, I don't find it creepy, I find it flattering and sweet. So this year when I have a nice thought, I am going to act on it.

3. Do one better. Not as in "oh thank you for your £10 gift voucher here is a £50 0ne", trying to do one better than you friend, but make a bit more of a quality contact than you normally would. Eg. if you're friend has taken a fun photo on instagram, and you're about to place a comment, why not send a text instead, saying how you love it and asking how they are? If you're friend asks whether you are free one night and you're not, instead of sending a text explaining why you can't make it, why not call them, explain on the phone and have a little catch up? Obvs you can't do it every time, and of course there are types of contact which are completely out of proportion to what you want to say (don't ask your friend to meet you for cafe just to tell them you found their tweet lols galore).

4. Speaking of which...use a phone. I always text or meet up with someone, but there is a middle ground which is nicer than a text and not as time consuming as going for a coffee and that is the phone. The blooming phone. In 2015 I am going to start using minutes again, you know those things people put on your phone contract alongside data and texts.

4. Give better gifts. I think here is one where I don't score too badly - I am, as I waffle on about constantly, a fan of the experience gift, but you can't afford and it might be a bit showy if you were constantly taking even your mate you only saw a couple of times a year to afternoon tea at the Ritz. But there are always those pals you give chocolates too, or random earrings from New Look who you could get more thoughtful gifts to, without it breaking the bank. Instead of buying a bottle of wine, what about making your own amaretto? (It's really easy).  Perhaps make them a salt scrub, instead of getting them bath bits.

5. Manage expectations. Originally this post was going to be about a hoola hoop festival I was going to with my friend Rowan, because even though I was busy pretty much all of Saturday with prior commitments, I told myself and Rowan I'd swing by for a couple of hours. Of course I bloody couldn't, my time is like my money, I am always trying to spend more than I have. From now on I am going to take Will's advice from his time selling kitchens: tell people expectations you can definitely meet, and then you have the chance to exceed them.

6. Merge your social circles. When I was younger, the worst thing in the world was when my "best friend" started hanging out with someone else, especially if I thought that someone else was closer to me. Two friends who I met first hanging out without me was to be avoided at all cost, but now I am all about the merging. Inviting uni friends to work friends drinks if they are passing by, inviting a school friend I've just had coffee with to come with me on a night out with my old housemates, and inviting Will everywhere, the lucky man. Having compartmentalised groups of friends means you are spread way more thinnly.

7. But on the flip side - still make time for one on one time. A lot of this post has been about the little things, but they don't undermine the importance of the big things. Dinners where it is just the two of you, old style girly sleepovers and spa breaks are going to be the things that keep you feeling like they are one of your best friends.

8. Be creative when it comes to finding time. My friend Rowan (the hoola hooper) work relatively near each other, but slightly too far apart for a lunch break together and we move in completely different circles meaning regular group trips to the pub, or dinners out are not so common. But we breakfast. Get up a little earlier for work, and we normally go to Dishoom for a chai tea and bacon naan roll which is more than worth setting your alarm early for starters, but getting to start your day chatting to your mate is absolutely worth missing 30 mins snoozing your alarm for.

Dishoom. Mmmm.

9. Be more supportive. Cheer more marathons, applaud more performance, eat more bake-off cupcakes. But I also want to be more supportive in the humdrum every day - not be as argumentative and not be so quick to pick holes in their ideas. I don't mean to be critical of my friends, but it is my tendency to be argumentative (not in a confrontional way, but I do like playing the devil's advocate) and I like to share what is on my mind. But instead my mantra for this year will be "does it need to be said and do I need to be the one to say it".

The bit that always makes me cry in "It's a wonderful life". Waaaaaa Christmas is over.

Phew that was a long one! Fancy something shorter and easier? This one is basically all pictures...well GIFs even better...Lover: the pros and cons of moving in with your boyfriend as told by Beyonce's Visual Album

No comments