I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how the right people seem fated to come into our lives at the exact time we need them. It’s weird, because I don’t think I believe in fate as such, but still there’s been some eerie coincidences.
For example, in September 2010, how did I end up getting put into a flat of my best friends? We’re all total opposites but yet, by some algorithm or twist of the universe, there we all were. Sisters, essentially, still to this day.
Cut to 2019 and I don’t think I would have ended up in Edinburgh right at this moment, the time it feels most right, if I hadn’t been working with my colleague Karen this summer. Her encouragement pushed me over the ledge I was too scared to jump off by myself.
And, of course, if all my writer friends hadn’t popped into my life exactly when they did, would I have written the books I’ve written? Would my life be completely different today? Would I have written anything at all?
But despite the importance of each person who I’ve crossed paths with, I’m of the opinion certain people are in your life forever and some for now.
Of course, that always sounds harsh, but I don’t mean they have played any less of a significant role. Or meant any less to me as a person. Simply, some roads split, and you both must travel in a difference direction to reach your individual destinations. Clinging onto a relationship (be that friendship or romantic) that isn’t meant to be, I believe, is damaging to both parties. If you’re meant to end up in Truro but you stay on the road to Bristol, you’re going to be in the wrong place!
We give each other so much shit for cutting friends off. Or for drifting away and not keeping in touch. Yet I think this is natural. I’ve had fast friendships I still look back on with extreme fondness, but we’ve drifted into different life paths. Our friendship was for a certain chapter, not the full novel, and that’s okay.
When it comes to friendships, though, there’s this weird opinion floating about that you’re meant to stay in touch forever. All this rubbish ‘don’t ever change’ advice gets thrown around and we seem to think longevity equals strength. A best friend can mean as much to you after knowing them one year as someone else’s who have known them forty. Social media also keeps friendships together that really should have drifted years ago. (Other friends are just toxic, but that’s a discussion for another post. I’m pretty sure I’ve already written it somewhere, to be honest. If they make you question yourself and generally feel like crap, cut ‘em off and don’t look back!)
I know there’ll be at least one person reading who thinks I sound selfish (although that word getting thrown in the faces of women every time we make a choice about our own lives needs to be discussed in the future!). I don’t want to sound like I’m using the people in my life for my own gains. I hope I’m explaining this right. What my friends provide by being in my life isn’t a tangible thing. It isn’t a service. It’s their presence. A compliment on the day you’re feeling at your worst. A pep talk as you stagger home. A question asked, or an anecdote told, at the right time and inadvertently reigniting the fire for a dream you’d all but given up on. A positive presence. A friend telling you how exciting a big move to Edinburgh would be instead of shooting the suggestion down in flames with a laugh, an eye roll, and a ‘you’ll never be able to do that, be realistic, Rebecca’. And some artistic flatmates, who with their own excitement for creating, have you thinking ‘maybe this isn’t such an unachievable dream, after all’.
Hopefully I offer my friends something of this feeling in return, but that’s sliding down into my largest self-confidence fear so we’ll stray from that path and continue as if we never travelled it…
Essentially, what I’m saying here is, it’s fine to drift away from friends. To acknowledge that not everyone is meant to be with you for the entire journey, but that’s okay. More than okay. Cherish the friends who make you feel good, though, they’re there for a reason.