8 years ago, I moved to a new place for work. I didn’t know anyone. So I started alone. No local friends.
But then slowly work colleagues became friends and slowly I had the semblance of a network.
Fast forward a few years and I made a whole new set of friends from a new hobby I took up. We were a bunch of people – strangers – who had a common interest and whether we realised it or not at the time (I certainly didn’t!) we were all in a similar stage of life. Adults, but only just; searching for life fulfilment and meaning.
Fast forward a few more years and a friendship that had meant the world to me ended. Abruptly. But it was ok I had more friends to plug the hole they left.
Then the following year another friendship ended. This time it ruptured one of my core networks. I was hurt. And the ripple of betrayal went through our friendship group. Simultaneously but unrelated to that friend break-up I started a relationship. Not just any relationship. One of the big ones. We’re still together now.
I love my relationship, but for a few years since that second friendship break-up and my relationship starting I haven’t really made any new friends.
A few months after that I left my job. So I lost some more ‘friends’ or colleague friends because what we had in common was work, and so when I stopped working there we no longer had the shared ground of the grind.
And my new work, as a freelancer means that I work alone more often than not.
I love freelancing, and I love my work. But it really can be lonely. I do meet with people who are doing similar work to me, our paths cross and I honestly thought I had made friends with several of them.
But then over the past couple of weeks there have been a few social events that I have not been invite to. I have been left out.
I don’t for one second think anyone has done it on purpose, I don’t think its vindictive but I was left out. And it hurt.
My expectation / my idea of our friendships, the level of friendship I thought I was sharing with these people has been challenged. I’ve realised that what I thought was a two way street is actually just one way traffic. The people I thought were my new friends, aren’t really.
I really felt left out.
Hurt, offended, upset, angry. And then sad. Sad that the promise of friendship I thought was happening actually wasn’t.
It made me feel all these things at once. I also felt 8 again, like I was in the playground waiting for a partner to walk with on the school trip only to realise that there was no one who wanted to partner up with me.
I have had some time to think about all of this, and of course I have done some introspection.
Since being in my aforementioned relationship, I have found it much harder to balance friendships than when I was single. Working as a freelancer doesn’t help as I end up working unsociable hours, and if a deadline looms that takes precedence over that drink in the pub, or noodles or a cup of coffee. It just has to. The realities of freelance.
So just to clarify, I know I haven’t been the best friend. But I haven’t been a bad friend.
Humans have an innate need to belong. To be part of something. To be included. So when I felt excluded, it was my own wake up call. A wake up call to really look at my ‘friends’. Who is there for me? And who am I there for?