Happy Galentine’s Day! If you’re new to the phenomenon, welcome! Depending on how you choose to look at it, this is either a special opportunity for women to celebrate the brilliance of their favourite friends in the same way that they honour their loves on Valentine’s Day ORRRR it’s another sick ploy from the marketing gods to get us spending even more money on a ‘holiday’ that we could probably do without… up to you to decide on that one… But either way, here we are!
Since today is all about celebrating the girls in my life that I’m lucky enough to call my friends, I thought I’d take a few minutes to talk about my friendships. From the ones that didn’t stand the test of time, to a look at the pressure on us to have the best bff squad girls GALPOWERFOREVERBBZ all the time, to the ridiculously high standards reeking havoc on our actual IRL friendships.
It’s meant to be a cheery little ‘yay for Galentine’s Day’ post but we all know how capable I am of overthinking things so sorry if you end up on a bit of a rollercoaster… I’ll do what I can to pluck a bit of optimism from somewhere by the time you finish reading. Let’s do what we can to save our cynicism for tomorrow, shall we?
(Final note before we crack on – the clothes in this picture were given to me by Debs (@bowelbabe) and F&F Clothing – next time you’re heading to Tesco, go peep at the wardrobe department because hiiiii, what an outfit!)
So I suppose I ought to start off my saying that so far in my life, none of the female friendships I have had, have gone the way I thought they would.
Having grownup on a diet of predominately chick-flicks, my expectations of friendship as I barrelled through life as a teenager and then, excitedly, into life as an adult in my twenties, were somewhat skewed.
I had thought, I had hoped, that before I knew it, I’d have reached peak sophisticated-olive-eating-grown-up and would be surrounded, forever, by an army of gal pals. I wanted us to all live on the same street as one another, know each other’s parents as well as we knew our own, we’d share clothes and secrets and our boyfriend’s would know that they would have to get out of bed to make room for a friend in need. I wanted friendship like Meredith Grey and Christina Yang had in Grey’s Anatomy. I wanted a Thelma and Louise type passion (but the foresight to realise that driving off a cliff together probably wasn’t the only option). More than anything I wanted an Eddie to my Patsy; a friend who saw me for what I was and still wanted nothing more than to get merrily fucked up with me as frequently as possible.
Well we were all brought up well enough to know, I’m sure, that I want never gets.
Whether it’s because I didn’t have a best friend who would squeeze my spots for me (as Georgia did in Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging) or because I don’t have a day of the week dedicated to wearing the same thing as my pals (on Wednesdays, they wore pink!) or because I got to my mid-twenties and realised that I would never write a bestselling memoir on my-by-comparison-considerably-less-impressive-friendships like Dolly Alderton had done with her debut book, Everything I Know About Love, I realised recently that the landscape that surrounds me is not what I thought it would be by the time I got to where I am. And sometimes, that can feel a little bit disappointing.
I need to interject here quickly I think, to say that this is not because my friends aren’t brilliant. They are, they’re so brilliant. This has happened instead, I suspect, because I’ve spent my whole life on the hunt for something that, I realise now, basically does not exist… for most of us at any rate.
I’ve written in the past about the intense pressure of the female friendship and I think that is an issue that is still very much reeking havoc on a lot of our lives; as brilliant as books like Dolly Alderton’s are, some of us have simply not been that lucky in the friend department and the sudden focus in our society on the strong female friendship, the girl squad heavy hashtags, days like today; Galantine’s Day, it can be hard for some.
I, for one, have not been able to carry all of my friendships through my life. I thought I would be able to, with a lot of them, but I wasn’t. A lot of the best friends I had as a child and as a teenager are not still my best friends now.
I’m not entirely sure why this is, sometimes I think it has something to do with my tendency to forget where I’ve put something the minute I turn my back, but I suspect, more likely, this is because I have spend the last two decades evolving and growing in ways that no one, least of all myself, could predict. So too have the people that I have been surrounded with.
I’ve been living my life and my friends have been living theirs and some of our lives crossed and some of them haven’t so much. A few of us were probably a little bit too lazy, a few were probably a little selfish. I’m sure there have been misdemeanours and wrong doings, failings, shortcomings, but for the most part, we’ve gone through a fairly similar process and we’ve done the best that we can. We’ve been amicable and cordial and kind and fun, but in spite of all of that, sometimes, friendships just don’t make it.
Of course that’s a totally shit plot line for a movie and therefore not a story that most of us are used to seeing, or envying at any rate, but I suspect at least a bit of this might sound a bit familiar to a few of us.
Other shit plot lines include: the best friend that moved to the other side of London who you don’t see so much because the northern line’s a bitch, the friend who works crazy long hours and who you know loves you but just doesn’t really have the time to socialise anymore, the friend with the boyfriend who you like, but you just don’t love, so don’t always feel entirely and perfectly comfortable around, the fact that you and your friends seem not to have a spare weekend until the summer or the story of the one friend who just doesn’t really use social media.
As a result, the expectations on the friendships that we do have, well, they’re a bit high. I spend a little bit more time than I should feeling that somehow my friendships aren’t quite good enough. That I don’t tell my friends enough. That although I am part of a couple of girl’s only WhatsApp groups (like I always dreamed I would be) they’re not chiming every hour with messages of “OHMYGOD HIS WILLY IS CROOKED!!” Pondering the fact that my hen-do, should I have one, would probably only need a minibus as a means of transport, rather than the coach I might have liked to fill.
As social media fills up with thousands of photos of Galentine’s Day marketing shit and every Instagram account ever tells you to tag a bestie, to get the girls together, to message the squad, well, you’d be forgiven for feeling a tad adrift.
Almost like a single person in a sea of couples on Valentine’s Day.
And that’s not because you don’t have friends, I’m sure, it’s because your friends are probably like my friends; women who, if they received a message from me calling them ‘gals’ and telling them that I was ‘summoning the squad’ they would tell me to fuck off talking like I was auditioning for Love Island. Or that they were at work and couldn’t be part of a WhatsApp group that dinged every two seconds. Or that they had plans with their boyfriend. Or their mum.
I have brilliant friends and I love them all to bits; I’m an idiot for letting the marketing spiel that surrounds a relatively new phenomenon worm it’s way into my mind and plant the seed of self doubt. Valentine’s Day makes a lot of people feel a bit shit about our pretty-great-but-without-the-fire-works-every-day-relationships, why shouldn’t Galentine’s Day leave us a tad concerned about the state of our friendships?
We’re holding them to a ridiculously high standard and they were destined to fall short.
SO. Rather than focus on all of the ways that my life isn’t like a romantic comedy staring Rebel Wilson, as much as I bloody wish it was, I will instead turn my attention to all the girls in my life that are fantastic in their own, normal, I-won’t-squeeze-your-spots-but-i-love-you-anyway sort of way.
And instead of sitting here looking around at all the ways in which I should be being a better woman, a better friend, a better human, I’m going to take a few minutes to sit back and appreciate the girls in my life, to remember all the times they’ve been fab, to put behind me all the ways that they’ve been shit, and to tell them that they’re fabulous and that I love them.
In spite of allllll the doom and gloom I’ve accidentally laid on here, I am a big believer in the power of the female friendship. We’re nothing without our girl friends. And even if they’re not quite the chain smoking, champagne guzzling, Joanna Lumley’s of your teenage fantasies, they’re probably still pretty great and today’s defo the day to remember that.