If you’re not losing friends then you’re not growing up!

When I read this saying, something about it made me feel sad and yet relieved. Growing up I’ve had many friends but honestly, over the years, I haven’t actively kept in touch with them. Yes, occasionally I do comment, interact and respond to posts on social media but it does hurt sometimes when I realise that I have no one to turn to when I truly need a friend. Until recently I had convinced myself that I really didn’t have the time, energy or inclination to go out and make ‘new friends.’

But, of course, it isn’t possible to stick to such a rule! Friends are as necessary as breathing! But I’ve come to accept that friends are needed to satisfy certain basic needs. Some of these needs are overt, while others are well hidden behind layers of our insecurities. Perhaps this is also why most people tend to have different sets of friends to satisfy those different needs. This is clearly encapsulated in the article 8 types of friends you need to have in your life.

Like most people, I also have a set of close friends. I can truly be myself in their company. And as clichéd as it might sound, it is a fact that I do not have to pretend or put up a front with them. I can be as open as I want to be. And in some cases, we’re always able to pick up from where we left off.

Somehow I can’t deal with comments like, ‘gosh you disappeared?’ or ‘You never keep in touch!’ Having to explain myself makes me feel obligated and at my age (don’t ask!), I really can’t be bothered.

Recently, I saw some old school friends reconnecting and going on a vacation. It  felt nice. That was such a cool idea. The photographs they uploaded were evident of all the fun they had together. But reading some of the comments, I realised that some of them really hadn’t changed from how I remembered them from school days. It made me wonder, had they reconnected to strengthen the friendship or was this an attempt to recreate the lives they had when in school, a life that wasn’t as complicated as it is today.

Around the same time, a school friend called me (we hadn’t spoken in almost 25 years!). We were having a congenial conversation till suddenly while talking about her grown up son, she asked me, ‘why did you have your daughter so late? If you’d had her earlier she would have been as old as my son.’ I was taken aback. This wasn’t a close friend. Even in school she was just a classmate. Who was she to ask me that? We had just reconnected after ages and I had no intentions nor was I in any way obliged to discuss personal issues with her!

On another occasion, while talking about a third person, a friend wondered aloud ‘how useful will he be in future? Will have to deal with him accordingly.’ Her statement forced me to face some harsh truths. It brought her true nature to light. It gave me the impression that her main focus was not so much the person but what was in it for her. It made me realise that some times people made friends because of ‘their need’ for them rather than the other way around! Once the need is met they found it most convenient to let go.

I knew I had to break away from this ‘friend’ of mine. Initially I couldn’t fathom why it had upset me so much till I realised that her statement actually went against my personal value system. I never made friends solely by judging how useful they might be or what they could do for me. I would prefer to remain friendless rather than be friends with someone so calculating.

Today we use social media and technology to connect, interact and have conversations. We accept ‘friend request’ by simply reading their social media pages and at the click of a button. All this has made the notion of making friends very superficial. The clear lines between friends and acquaintances have blurred. No wonder we’re always role playing. I remember one time, a friend boasting about the large number of friends he was connected to on social media. I had humoured him then. Today I’m appalled I did that. I guess because now I truly understand that no matter what the numbers are, we will always have those few friends who make our lives meaningful. And they’re the only ones we will need to live happily and contended.

As Doris Lessing quotes in The Golden Notebook, ‘do you know what people really want? Everyone, I mean. Everybody in the world is thinking: I wish there was just one other person I could really talk to, who could really understand me, who’d be kind to me. That’s what people really want, if they’re telling the truth.’