You will have all sorts of relationships with all sorts of different people in your life. Some you can choose and some you can’t. As they sort of say ‘you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your relatives, neighbours, colleagues or passing acquaintances’. What you can pick, though, is your friends. This will extend to lovers and partners, who should first and foremost be friends. The problem is that identifying and keeping friends is a minefield and so today, your Badass Auntie will use her many decades of trials, failures and successes in friendship to help you get yourself some keepers.
Before I begin there are important things for you to know about friends. You’re going to fuck up a lot a long the way. There are two things that we all do 1) choose the wrong people as friends sometimes, 2) piss off the people who should have been our friends. You’re going to have friends that betray you. You’re going to have friends that let you down. You’re probably going to let down some of your friends too. Why? Because we’re all fucking human, we’re not perfect and sometimes just when we’re a needy friend, our timing is shit and it’s exactly what our friends don’t need.
One thing that is definitely true is that the quality of your friendships outweigh the number of friends you might have. Also, your life experience is going to have a huge influence on the sort of friends you will have. For example, I moved continuously for most of my early school years. So, I was never able to develop close, lasting bonds with other kids my age and, in fact, I learned that it wasn’t wise to get close to others because I’d only be moving away and never seeing them again. I developed a thick skin, a good sense of humour, a very active imagination and a love for animals.
These days, it’s not so hard for kids that move around a lot because of the internet, where many friendships are created and maintained and you can video chat to your heart’s content with friends near and far. You can also send naked photos of yourself. Don’t. Seriously. Just don’t. Not unless they are of your arse and they are a joke. Back in the day, I had to write letters. Trust me. The novelty wore off pretty quickly.
That’s why you need to take today’s Badass Auntie advice on friendships within its context. Despite the fact that I have no filter most of the time (that is a choice, by the way, as I’m perfectly capable of being as charming and manipulative as the next person), I have managed to collect a number of people over the years who seem rather fond of me. There are a lot of people out there, so when you fuck up, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move the fuck on. There are always friends to be made and it’s not that hard to make them if you’re willing to put in a bit of effort. Oh. My. God. That’s the word. Effort. That’s the key to friendships. It really is.
But what do you mean by ‘effort’ oh great Badass Auntie? That’s a very good question handsome young nephew. Effort can be made in many ways. Sometimes you have to make the effort to understand that it’s not always about you. I have friends that I don’t hear from for years at a time. That doesn’t make them crap friends…well, not always. It often makes them friends who are struggling with incredible life challenges, illness, mental health problems, financial stress or child rearing (which truly sums up all of the previous reasons).
Life can and will really get on top of you at certain points in your life and then you have to grow the fuck up and prioritise. That sometimes means that you simply can’t pull your weight as a good friend for a while. Does that mean that the friend should be abandoned – not in the slightest. If they were worthy of your friendship in the past, then they will always be worthy of your friendship. So, make two efforts – one, to not be whiny and needy and demanding and two, to let them know, every so often that you’re still there, you’re still their friend and that when they are ready or they need you, you’ll be there for them.
So what about the others, the ones who aren’t distant echoes that you randomly connect with when you occasionally think of them and make that effort. What about your day to day friends? It’s important to differentiate between users and friends. As your Badass Auntie has been known to have an affinity for trying to rescue people and animals in the past, she has had her fair share of users along the way. The trick is to learn how to spot the little fuckers before they get their claws into your life.
In nature, there are creatures that masquerade as other creatures to lure prey. Fish that have dangly things on their tongues that look like worms so that other, smaller fish might just wander right into their gaping jaws and snakes that can make their tail look like something delicious to um…something delicious. Similarly there are gushing, flattering, overly affectionate people who will make you feel so adored that you don’t notice that whenever they get in touch, it’s because they want or need something.
The rest of the time. Crickets. A sure sign of this type of friend mimicking behaviour is if you should ever confront them about the strangely unbalanced nature of your relationship, they will take great offense, rapidly fire off a list of excuses and then you won’t hear from them again. Unless they need something. Because they usually have no shame and when all their other avenues are unavailable, they’ll definitely come back and try you again. Once you learn to recognise this behaviour, you’ll easily shed users but if you’re a softy, have poor self esteem or you’re a sucker for flattery, then you may find yourself collecting a few more along the way. Users are heinous and I say that especially because ‘heinous’ rhymes with ‘anus’ and that’s sufficiently descriptive.
So, what should you expect from a good friend? Just a little bit of effort. They should listen sympathetically when you need them to. They should at the very least offer to try to help when you need it. They should make you laugh. They should be trustworthy with your important thoughts and not use those against you. Don’t expect anyone to be entirely trustworthy with secrets. Once you’ve told a single person, it’s not a secret anymore. They should be both challenging and forgiving. If you do something that pisses them off, a real friend will tell you and then give you the opportunity to be forgiven. Likewise, you need to be able to do the same. People are not perfect. People fuck up. If you want perfect friends, you’re going to be very fucking lonely indeed.
So, my final Badass Auntie bit of wisdom of the day is this. Every so often you might end up having a little snog, diddle or even sex with a friend. That’s OK. It may turn out that they are meant to be your partner or lover, but more often, they are just a friend who happened to be there when you were both horny and possibly inebriated. A good friend will come to a silent agreement with you to forget about it and carry on as if it never happened – OK, maybe once in a while when you’re older and reminiscing you might have a laugh about it, but otherwise it should never be spoken of.
Much love from your Badass Auntie
I’m just going to write this assuming that you read my letters to your brother. If you don’t, then I’m telling you that you should. That way I don’t have to give the same fucking advice twice. I will, though, stay on the theme of friendship. Especially as we’re now at the end of the year and you are about to enter your first full year of existing as a human being on this planet. Oh, and before we move on, I just want to get this out of the way. I’m so fucking sorry that my generation and the previous generation were such poor custodians of Earth. We’ve left you a right fucking mess. Good luck with that.
So, on to friends. I can only share with you one of the most difficult parts of choosing friends I have to contend with – and I expect you will too. There are a few things that I feel are very important in friends but often find that they don’t all come in the same package. It’s getting a good compromise or balance that’s important and today I’m going to try to help you with that as only a Badass Auntie should.
I have a preference for smart friends. Not just common garden smartness, but razor sharp, borderline insane, twisted, challenging, contradictory and sometimes truly annoying smartness. I like those things in people. The problem is that sometimes, that level of smart comes with a lack of compassion and thoughtfulness. It can also come with people who have very complicated emotional lives. The problem is that I really love having friends who are kind and who do wonderful things in the world. Now this is when it gets really fucking difficult. Sometimes the most compassionate and thoughtful people aren’t that sort of smart. Chances are, if they were, they wouldn’t be quite so kind. There are also, those diamonds, those rare brilliant, twinkly, blingy diamonds that have all of these characteristics at once. If you find one of them. Never let them go. Your Tia (who I will tell you about one day) is one of those.
I need to get one thing straight. I don’t do stupid, but being not super smart and being stupid are not the same thing. I talked about being stupid in a previous letter but I will expand on that a bit here. I’m talking about people who are completely and fucking utterly incapable of critical thinking, self examination, original thought and who almost never get a joke. These are the people who sarcasm is wasted upon. So, when I describe people as not clever. I by no means suggest they are stupid. I. Don’t. Do. Stupid. (or boring)
I also need to explain that I’m not as smart as some of my friends. I’m also not smart about everything. I am a smart arse about most things though and that compensates greatly. So, this isn’t a big ego trip about how smart your Badass Auntie is. And please don’t think I’m being humble because I’m not. I’m badass smart, but only about things I know about and am interested in. Try to talk to me about sports. No. Don’t. There won’t be a conversation.
Getting back to finding a balance with friends. I mentioned to your brother that ‘effort’ is the big thing in friendships. I love ’em smart as a whip and I love ’em sweet as sugar. If they make an effort to be a good friend to me, then I will return that effort as best I can in loyalty, fun, care and an unhealthy dose of swearing. I will embarrass them in front of their friends and family, given the opportunity. I will feed them when possible. I will welcome them into my home and I will try to let them know from time to time that I really care about them.
You see, your friends can’t be everything to you, nor should they be. That’s your partner and unless you are into polyamory (which by the way is fine by me, but if you have a million fucking children with ‘sister wives’ I shall stop sending presents from Amazon and you can all share a dozen cookies at Christmas), you will only have one of those at a time. The amazing thing about friends is that you can and should have several. Not too many, as that’s just greedy and there is no way you can make an effort for all of them. The truly fucking fabulous thing about friends is that different friends can fulfill your different friendship needs.
Your smart friends can keep you on the ball and teach you new things. They can also humble you when you think you’re too fucking clever. Your compassionate friends will also keep you humble and remind you to be a better person. Some of your friends you’ll be able to talk to even when years have passed and it will be just like it’s been a day. Other friends might be best kept as friends by not seeing them too often, but when you do, you have unforgettable times together. Yes, you’ll get hurt along the way. Some friends may say and do shit that really hurts. Some you may just want to take a break from or even have to walk away from and others might just have to walk away from you too. Not all friendships last forever. And that’s a good thing too because it gives you more space for more friends in your life!
So, your words of wisdom from your Badass Auntie are this. There are hundreds of ways to make an effort so that your friends know you care about them. There will be times in your life when it will be impossible to make that effort, so when you can, invest a little bit extra. It’s worth it because the only thing worse than losing a friend is knowing that you didn’t let them know how much you loved them before you lost them. Love is free. Don’t be a tight arse. Share it!
Much love from your Badass Auntie
ps. Don’t just be friends with people who are just like you. That’s boring and I won’t be pleased with having a boring niece. I don’t do boring.