Sunday, 22 May 2016

The A-Z of Friendship

The above image appeared in my Twitter timeline this morning and, sweet as it is, I couldn't help but think it was a bit... Much.  Sure, it's an ideal, but it's a rather sugary one.  I'm very lucky, in that I have an amazing best friend and a very close group of special friends I refer to as "my girls" (what was it I was just saying about being too "sugary"?  Whoops...), but this A-Z just doesn't seem to describe us, properly.  So, I figured it needed updating to cover all modern, realistic friendships.  Because as much as everything on this list is definitely important for a long-lasting friendship, it doesn't get into the nitty-gritty of being besties in reality.  Real life isn't a Hallmark card, after all.  So, here's my A-Z of friendship, inspired by my best friend Lydia and the rest of my "girls" - Kirstie, Lizzie and Kate.

Friendship isn't about being 100% in agreement, 100% of the time.  You know who your real friends are, if you can rile each other up like crazy when you have opposing views, yet still find a way to respect one another's different opinions and carry on being buddies.  And of course, if it's really trivial things that you disagree on, such as whether or not a band are any good, or how a TV show should have ended, good friends can't help winding each other up on purpose, sometimes.  It's all part of that whole "I mock you because I love you" thing that happens when you get very close to another human. 

Bodily functions.
Oh, come on.  The day you can burp or fart in front of a friend in complete knowledge that they're just going to laugh it off, is the day you know you're onto a winner.

The best kinds of friends are the ones who tell you that of course you could get the object of your affections!  They encourage you to go for it and if it works out, they're genuinely happy for you.  If it doesn't, they'll give you chocolate and let you mope and cry on their shoulders.  And hey, if your crush is a celebrity, your best friend will send you gifs of that celebrity looking particularly gorgeous whenever you feel upset.  Or, at least, that's what my best friend does...

He makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and other, more adult adjectives.

Dream big dreams.
Yes, I'm agreeing with the incredibly sentimental A-Z above, with this one.  My best friends all fully support my writing dreams, even though they all know how hard it is to make it in a creative industry.  Likewise, I know my best friend has the potential to be an amazingly successful YouTuber and it's her ultimate goal. so I will support her forever in achieving it.

Encouraging one another's shared fandoms...
There is nothing like the joy of sharing a fandom with your friends.  My friend Kirstie and I are Manics gig buddies for life and we love nothing more than seeing "our boys" together.  Lydia and I share a ridiculously deep love for Dan and Phil.  It means we can spend an entire afternoon watching YouTube videos together and it's the BEST thing EVER.  Having someone close who shares your passion for something is an awesome feeling and it can even strengthen your friendship.

Platonic flirtation is one of my favourite parts of a close friendship, because it's utterly hilarious and makes outsiders wonder what the heck is going on.  If this isn't an aspect of any of your friendships, it goes a bit like this:
Me: "Does this dress look okay on me?" 
Bestie: "Phwoar, yeah.  You look hot.  I would."  
And then we both giggle because we find ourselves so damn funny.

When we giggle, we look like this.  Only *slightly* more youthful.  But only slightly.

Getting the giggles.
Seriously, giggling with your friends is paramount to the survival of your relationship.  If you're not laughing, you're doing something wrong.  There are few things more hilarious to me than when my best friend gets such a bad case of the giggles that she can't speak unless she says, with...pauses...between...each...word...for...laughter.

Hating the same people.
This is not something you absolutely MUST have in a friendship, but it provides a common sense of unity.  Mention a certain hugely famous YouTuber who steals stuff from other people and passes it off as his own, and my best friend and I will combust with rage.  And on a more realistic level, if someone has hurt your friend, letting them know that you are as angry as they are about it can only strengthen your bond.  It's a kind of "cross my friend and you also cross me" type deal.

If there is one sure-fire way to know that your friendship is truly real, it's the knowledge that you can utterly insult one another and not be offended.  When my best friend and I aren't pretending we fancy the heck out of each other, we're slagging each other off.  BECAUSE FRIENDSHIP.

I must remember to use this one.

Jumping to one another's defence.
I don't care who you are, how much bigger or stronger than me you might be, if you pick on any of my friends, you will unleash my feisty Greek side.  So, for your own safety, just don't upset any of them.  Ever.

Killing an entire day doing absolutely nothing.
Sitting with a really good friend, having a cuppa and talking about everything and nothing all at once for literally hours on end?  Sign of a pretty solid relationship, if you ask me.

Love you no matter what.
Yeah, I'm keeping this one from the sugary list, too.  A good friend doesn't just ditch you because you haven't been in touch for a while, or because you disagreed on something trivial.  A good friend loves you, even if you're a bit of an idiot, because you're their idiot.

Making memories.
Yes, "memories" were mentioned on the above list, too.  It's hard to come up with an entirely unique A-Z, okay?!  The fact is, memories don't have to come from big, exciting trips you've taken, together (although that's a pretty awesome way to make them); they can come from something really trivial, like a shared moment of total awkwardness in a public place.  Which, to be fair, is where a lot of mine come from...

My friend Kirstie sometimes refers to me as Emmykins.  This is officially the cutest thing in the world.

Obscure references and in-jokes.
My best friend and I had a Skype chat the other day, in which a good five minutes of conversation time was taken up by us both hysterically laughing at a shoe.  A SHOE.  None of our other friends would understand the significance (or hilarity) of said shoe, but it had us almost crying with laughter.  My friend Lizzie and I laugh at the word "so," if it's said in a certain way.  It's those little in-jokes and references that can make a friendship feel special.

Putting up with stuff, because it means a lot to your friend.
My friend Lizzie is not a Manics fan.  In July, she's coming with me to a Manics gig, because she knows I adore them and her sister, my usual gig buddy, can't make it.  Likewise, my best friend is a big Kanye West fan.  I... Am very much not.  But when we go on long car trips together, she knows she doesn't even have to ask before she puts Kanye on.  Why?  Because she's my friend and God damnit, I will tolerate Kanye for her.

Queuing for stuff.
If there's a Manics gig, Kirstie and I will make damn sure we queue to get to the front.  If Lizzie and I want the best seats at Centre Stage when we go to Butlin's, we'll start queuing early.  If Lydia and I... Oh, you get the point.  Basically, if we know it means something to us, we're prepared to be very British about getting what we want.  This one is, admittedly, probably specific to my friendships, but I stand by it.

Reminding each other of the importance of your friendship.
Okay, so this is a soppy one, but I am BIG lover of "I love you."  Why should we only say it to family members and romantic partners?  Don't we love our friends?!  I try to regularly remind all of my closest friends of how special they are to me, because they absolutely are.

My bestie and I even have our friendship promises inked on ourselves.

Sheer stupidity.
If you can't completely let go of your inhibitions and be utterly silly around your best mates, then you're doing friendship wrong.

Talking stuff through.
The only times my closest friends and I tend to fall out is when one of us is keeping something in, rather than sharing how we feel.  Letting stuff out ensures that trivial issues don't get brooded over until they turn into massive problems.  So, even if it seems silly, if there's something bugging you in your friendship, TALK ABOUT IT.  

Understanding when your friend isn't themselves.
A good friend recognises when you're feeling a bit low from talking to you.  A great friend can tell something's up just by the tone of your tweets, or your responses to text messages.  Part of fostering a really great friendship is knowing what makes one another tick.  Picking up on unspoken clues as to when your friend is a little down ensures that you're always there for them when they need you, even if they're not the type to ask.

Verbal AND non-verbal communication.
My closest friends and I can speak volumes with a single glance.  Sometimes, friendship is about knowing what's in someone's head so well that you don't even need words to express what you're both thinking.

Waiting for the storm to pass.
Sometimes, life throws us a curve ball.  The relationship we were so excited about six months ago could become abusive and leave us in huge emotional turmoil.  The job we thought was for life could disappear due to budget cuts.  Real friendship is about sticking by someone during their darkest hour and not only being there when things are going well.

X-rated conversation.
I'm told that roughly 75% of my anecdotes are preceded with the words "this might be too much information, but..."  From weird sex dreams, to bodily functions, no subject should be off limits in a really close friendship.

Youthful outlook/mature view.
Our friends keep us young, when they encourage us to embrace our silly side and have fun.  But they can also help us to view ourselves through mature eyes when needed.  A really good friend knows exactly when you need to grow up a bit and when to encourage you to unleash your inner child.

Zooming to your side when you need them.
When you need a friend, a good one will always try to be there for you, even if they can't literally zoom to your side.  They'll be there with a text to let you know that they're thinking of you, or they'll call you so you can talk it all out.  Friendship is about support and the best friends do that constantly and unquestioningly.

There we are.  The very modern, less mushy, slightly more realistic A-Z of friendship.  

And on a totally unrelated note...

Hey, guess whose latest YouTube video is now up for you to enjoy?  Only mine!  Woohoo!

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