I struggle to make female friendships, and I know I’m not the only one.
Feeling cut off from other women, groups of female friends, and like the tragically cliched ‘odd one out’ in the group has been a pattern throughout my young life. I understand and accept that a large part of this has to do with me – I’m a terrible when it comes to isolating myself, and guarding myself and my own human experience. As I’ve gotten older my guard has not dropped, but my fear of what I experience inside has. I’ve started to realise that everyone feels the same way at some point – highs, lows, and the terrifying parts of our brains that we only delve into while sipping mushroom tea at house parties in our early twenties.
Still, the struggle to connect exists. I find it rare to meet a person who wants to connect, people are happy within their cliques – and by the time we hit say, 23, it can feel like we’ve already seen it all – we’ve had our ex boyfriend f**k our housemate, we’ve had our group turn on us as a whole, we’ve heard every schoolyard or university food hall rumour on the planet, had our words twisted, and in turn – we’ve also been a part of it.
We’ve sat in silence as another person has been thrown under the bus, or had her mental anguish, mistakes and issues aired among the psychoanalytical group think and felt it remove the bonds we had previously made with that person. No wonder we find it hard to even want to connect with others, if we haven’t yet recovered from those experiences.
When we come to realise our loneliness we often say, ‘take a class’, ‘join a club’, ‘meet people on a night out’ etc. The issue is a little bit deeper though, or at least I find it to be.
The thing is, I find it easy to talk to strangers – really easy – I am no holds barred if I am in a one on one conversation with a complete stranger, and a drink in my hand. It’s part of what made me enjoy the hustle of dancing so much. When there is some kind of social status quo to uphold though – that’s when it hits: The awkwardness, the struggle to knit something out of a sliver of fantasy regarding a regular coffee date where I (living my very ~adult coupled up life) can live vicariously through their new discovery of BDSM with strangers (‘kind of scary in retrospect’), and introduction to Herpes Simplex 1, 2 (3,4,5, and 6) and how to treat it.
Once those first meetings are done and dusted, I start to hold back. While I might be loose and fun, thumbing through the first few vintage racks while telling my unedited life story, I eventually start to want to shrink back. The few times in my life that this hasn’t occurred have been instances where I believe the person was/is a soulmate – someone who was supposed to come into my life, someone where the friendship has always been easy, casual and interesting. Or maybe I’m just lazy, and I don’t want to do the spiritual homework involved in letting new people in and deconstructing their reaction to who I am as a person.
I think something to be self-aware of, and something that is worth deconstructing when we try to make sense of our own learned behaviour – is how we learn to exclude people for the purpose of self-preservation. Groups don’t naturally open immediately – life would be easier if they did, it would be easier if we learned not to hold so strongly to our self-perception, and allowed change to come as it wills to help us grow further and become more fully integrated people – and in turn more flexible with our Jungian Self.
The reality is, I have two friends that I’m not related to. I’m not upset about it, I like being alone. I also prefer spending time with my family to others. I’m a self-confessed workaholic. When I’m not working my hobbies (bar shopping) are really only things that can be done alone. I do find my own social inhibitions when not blessed by my chosen fairy godmother (her name is Absolut) interesting however. Why do we hold ourselves back when it comes to friendship? Why don’t we let others into our groups without question?