We all have certain biases ingrained deep within- whether we choose to accept it or not is a different matter.
I have them too and here are a few things I always thought when it came to friends:
- I can only bond with people who are like me- have similar tastes in books, similar hobbies, choice of movies, opinions on feminism, life etc etc. Those who are different, I can talk to them , have casual banter but it stops at that.
- Friendships mostly dont last over time, as we move on to new schools, colleges, jobs, move cities, we make new friends. Our thinking, way of looking at life , likes, opinions change. We do not relate to people who were once so close and there is often no common topic. The office gossip, bitching about a bad boss that we so passionately indulged in , seems not to matter any longer as we no longer work in the same environment , with the same set of people.
- Close friends will never ever forget your birthdays and if they do- hell breaks loose. It means you dont really occupy that place in their heart anymore.
How wrong I was.. on all these counts.
It takes experiences, a few grey strands as well to figure out life, no?
As I moved cities, jobs, picked up new hobbies, became a mom, I made so many new friends. Not all relationships are those where I felt a strong connect, or sometimes I felt that but over time it fizzled out. But I discovered its not necessary to have things in common- in fact the more disparate people we meet, the better is it for us in getting rid of our deeply ingrained biases, discover something new, look at life with a different set of lens.
There were friends who were once inseparable, but with time, different priorities, not making a conscious effort to keep that flame burning they fizzled out. There is a college friend who was not very close but she has this unique habit of calling every year on my birthday, if I do not pick up she sends a message. Its been almost 17 years since we left college. I used to find this infuriating earlier, like why do you call when we were not close and you anyway never make an attempt to stay in touch rest of the year. So why on my birthday. Partly I was angry with myself for I couldn’t remember her birthday. But over time I understood this is a such a beautiful way to keep in touch, even years after you are not together. Though its once in a year, and if both the friends call each other religiously its twice a year but having a good conversation and catching up on life makes a difference, it keeps that flame burning.
I have always prided myself on being a meticulous person, I plan everything , to the last detail and its unfathomable for me to forget birthdays, hence the unrealistic expectation from others as well. But hey I did forget- the birthday of one of my closest college friends, my brother and sister in law’s marriage anniversary. And when I realised it, it felt like such a blunder. Its like I had to eat my own words. But did that mean I loved them any less, or I had started to care a little lesser? Absolutely not. And then it made no sense to have this stupid thing in my head that forgetting a close friends’s birthday means you value them lesser. A good friend once told me “If my pal were to miss wishing me on my birthday I would call him/ her when there are like 15 minutes for the day to end and tell them – you idiot how dare you forget my birthday chal wish me now”. And it made me smile.
Any relationship needs effort. With family while there could be 2 views – one is we take them for granted and the totally divergent view is we are obligated sometimes, but with friends there is no such obligation. And thats why it takes effort. Effort to check on that friend who’s been silent for a while, effort to make plans to meet up and then actually go out for drinks or dinner, however tempted you are to plonk yourself in front of Netflix and chill:). Efforts to listen patiently when your friend rants and never asks about your life, cos maybe they are going through a really low phase and all they want is to vent out. Efforts to make that random call though you have that awkward silence and you wonder how did that even happen cos there was a time when you could chatter whole night with that friend. It takes effort and its important this effort comes from both sides for if its only one of them who is doing it time and again, over months, years , it will fizzle out some day.
Today as I watched 3 girls, on the cusp of teenage giggle, dance as their eyes shone with excitement celebrating friendship day together I wished (and I wished it so badly for one of them who is very dear to me) that may this last. May she and others keep revelling in these moments, may they continue to find joy in friendships, may moving out to college one day not make a difference, may they find new friends but keep at-least a handful of old friendships thriving and this handful keeps growing as they meet new people and forge new bonds on the way.
May friendship day not be about just the first Sunday of the month where people send Whatsapp messages and post statuses with their friends but are strangers for rest of the year. May this be about a conscious effort we all make to cherish these friendships every day.