Like dating, falling in 'friend love' can be hard and highly dependent on timing. Take, for example, my entire university experience (which I loathed, by the way).
There I was, thinking it would be all booze cruises, pub crawls and shiny new friends, but I was left sorely disappointed when I realised that making friends is actually pretty hard. Especially when it seemed everyone else had their high-school friends in tow.
For three years, I didn't make one proper friend. Sure, there were a few random people I'd grab sushi with between tutorials, but that doesn't really count, does it? Since I hadn't moved away to study, it turned out to be fine, as I still had my dear, trusty high-school friends.
But one year later I moved to Sydney and found myself in the same (no friend) situation, this time without any high-school friends to fall back on.
Considering I'd taken an internship at a women's magazine, where only women worked, I figured I'd have to be a complete creep if I remained a loner. And just-sushi friends weren't going to cut in my new Sydney life.
Thankfully, it didn't turn out that way. Five years on I have more than a handful of wonderful friends, the confidence I'm not a creep after all, and the kind of appreciation only a friendless person who moves to a new city could understand.
And I've come to realise that with each new group of friends at each stage of life, from theatrical pre-teen to grownup 20-something, you learn some pretty important lessons. Here are some of mine.
If someone wants to see you, they'll always, always make time
Let's just throw it back for a sec to pre-teen you. Holidays meant consecutive sleep-overs at your best friend's place, both of you sporting the same outfit, watching the same movie over and over and probably sucking on a push-pop.
You spent all that time together because you enjoyed each other's company. Like, a lot. Also, you didn't have a car. But it was the kind of friendship where you belonged to each other. In a good way.
Later, when you grow up, you realise that kind of time just isn't possible any more. You're busy. You're stressed. And so is everyone else. And it's the most heartbreaking thing when you realise the person you'd make time for now, amongst whatever else is happening in your life, won't do the same for you.
Your friend isn't a celebrity and you shouldn't have to feel like you're hollering at her to pencil in a coffee. If someone values you, they will always make time for you.
Friendship isn't a trade-off
Life is magical when you don't have to second-guess your friends. It sounds ludicrous, but, sadly, some people think friendship is based on some kind of bilateral trade.
Like: "I was there for you then, so you should be here for me now." Well, duh. That's just assumed.
The fact someone is drawing your attention to this tells you their expectation of the friendship is pretty warped. Friendship, like your favourite bra, isn't something you should have to think about.
Sometimes it's difficult to devote as much time to your friends (and your Netflix) as you did when you were single. But a real friend doesn't care about your relationship status, that you've made a new friend who grows Kombucha for fun or that she can't wear your new coat because you're wearing it tonight. She cares that you are there -- and that's enough.
The prettiest girl in the room isn't your enemy
When clever women have their shit together and don't hate themselves, it's like fierce feminist fairydust is sprinkled all over the planet. But it makes some women really uncomfortable.
It wasn't until I entered the workforce that I witnessed how attractive, smart women often kill other women (who feel threatened by them) with kindness, just so they can prove them wrong. It was a weird shock, because in high school everyone liked the pretty girls. But in grown-up world, they got a raw deal just for having a brain and an income high enough to buy nice designer clothes and yes, maybe the odd prick of Botox.
Before you judge a pretty person, offer a hello and it's likely your presumptions will be put to bed. Trusting that pretty people are nice humans too will give you a newfound glowy freedom. The rub-your-eyes-with-no-mascara-on type of freedom: it's a relief, it makes you happy and it just feels good. For everyone.