The secret to making true friends...(Dear Jess)

by Jessica Holsman

Dear Jess,

I’m in my first year of university and I feel like one of the biggest changes I’ve gone through is to do with my friendship circle. I’ve met a lot of new people, lost touch with some of my high school friends and kept in touch with others.

Did you ever change friends after high school? What do you do if you don’t have a friendship group like you used to?

x Anonymous

Hi Lovely!

We all need to feel accepted and like we belong, so having a social circle can have great benefits for our mental health (as long as we're part of a nice group of people!). In saying that, a social circle can look different to everyone and it also comes down to quality over quantity. Having three very special friends can be just as beneficial as having a large group of forty!

Also, just like you're experiencing, as we get older, our social circle changes and choosing to spend time with people becomes dependent on a lot of different factors that we never considered when we were just little kids running around in the playground or swapping our juice boxes for packets of chips in the corridors (if you were anything like me!). 

For a friendship to work during our adolescent years and later in adult life, we need to be sure that our core values align and that there's a connection that goes beyond the childhood friendship criteria of "you like barbie too!" or "Captain Planet is also my favourite show!" (I was more of a Sailor Moon and Pokemon kind of girl though...)

You don’t need to have exactly the same interests when it comes to hobbies, choice in movies, music and food, or taste in fashion, but what is at the core does matter, so that you can feel like you're all on the same page.

Over time, we change and grow into ourselves. You might choose to study a different degree to your high school friends, travel overseas, date different people, try multiple jobs, move interstate or overseas, dabble in new skills and hobbies, and find a spiritual or religious connection. What’s super important to remember here, is that it’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay to change, grow, and be selective when it comes to the people you surround yourself with, as your life becomes more complex. It's totally normal! Also, you're not giving a total "stuff you!" to your old friends. You're just branching out and finding your own tribe which you are completely within your right to do. 

After high school I didn’t really have a designated friendship group, because all of my friends were from different places (I've been told that I collect people along the way!). I’d met them through school, dance class, volunteer jobs, university, and via mutual friends and family connections. It's like over time, I carefully selected my friends like rare gemstones, each adding their own value to my life and mine to theirs. I'm pretty lucky because whenever I would host a birthday party or other event, all of my friends seemed to gravitate towards each other and get along so well! I guess it’s true that the company we keep is a good reflection of ourselves and so anyone who gets along well with me, will likely get along well with my friends!

Something else I noticed though is that I actually have four very close friends who I met when I was under the age of 5! One was from kinder, the other from first year of school, and the other two I met because our mum’s are dear friends. While we clicked really well as kids, we seemed to lose touch for a little while, only to then reconnect and realize that we are even more similar now than before! In fact, over the last 5 years, one of my best friends and I can’t believe how much we have changed and that our lives seem to have converged more than ever! (so weird but so cool!)

I guess this brings me back to my initial point that friendship dynamics change because we, as complex creatures, change. Sometimes we grow together and other times we grow apart but what’s important is that we are conscious of the people we invite into our lives and make sure that it’s a reciprocal relationship where we both care for and support each other. If you have a genuine group of friends, it’s likely they will all get along when you next have a great excuse to bring them together!

Happy friend collecting :)

Love, Jess x