On Friday evening I went out with many of my new work colleagues for the first time. As we move forward with the new school, there’s a lot of changes for us all. I feel like I’m starting a new job- it’s in a new building, I’ll be teaching new students, and working with people whom I barely know. Lots of changes! This is why I felt it important to go out at the end of term and get to know people better- nothing bonds a group of grown ups quite like a good old drink together!
I had an amazing time, and I won’t divulge details, but my new work peeps know how to party, and I think I’ll fit right in. Going out has certainly eased my mind about starting in September. Andy has found it quite amusing, seeing me worry like a kid about making friends. That has been my biggest concern- that I won’t make friends with my new colleagues. He’s laughed at me if I mention that such-and-such seems nice, or that I like Joe Bloggs, etc. I don’t think that men “get” the need to have friends everywhere! To be fair, I don’t think that all women get it either, but for me it’s a must. I surround myself by strong friendships. I have my girls, most of whom I’ve been friends with for the majority of my life. Friendship in the workplace is important to me. Yes, I don’t go to work for the social life or to make friends, but it helps to make a job even more enjoyable when you have people to talk to who do the same things as you everyday. I like to go to work and have people I can confide in if I’m having a bad day. I enjoy having people to laugh with when things are tough, and to celebrate with in times of success.
But how the hell do you make friends as a grown up? I’m not sure that sharing the contents of my lunch box, or playing on the playground together would cut it. Quite frankly, I’d look bonkers offering someone half of my sarnie in the hope that they’ll want to be my friend!
Taking some of my past methods into consideration may work, I’ll just have to adjust them for adult life:
The “finding the loner” friendship
When I was at school, I took advantage of people who didn’t know anyone else, swooping in and making them my friend! I’ve briefly said how Sarah and I became friends after she was sat on her own in an RE lesson. I no doubt talked her into submission, forcing my friendship upon her. What would’ve happened if she hadn’t been a loner that day?! I’m sure I would’ve just found another moment to make her my friend, but I’m glad that I did it early on in secondary school! By the time we left school, I had made myself indespensable and she had no choice but to keep me around! Tactical friendship, you see! Another loner I found was Jade! She was the only one who came to our secondary school from her primary school, and I made sure that our common nerdy personalities made friends! She hasn’t been able to get rid of me since! In all seriousness, I’ve just never been able to see people on there own. Sometimes I don’t take notice of boundaries- someone may want to be alone and I will disturb the peace! But it’s coming from a good place. So, if you’re sat alone and see me coming towards you, be prepared for me to want to make sure you’re ok! I think I’ve been the one on my own enough to know that sometimes you secretly want a chat with someone. And if you ever see me sitting on my own, know that I think it’s pretty cool if you come up and say “hello”!
The “drunken” friendship
Now, this doesn’t always work! And I’m by no means suggesting that I have to be drunk to become friends with someone. My main successful experience of this approach is with my “person” Hayley! Many moons ago, when we worked in Wilkinsons together, we decided to go out after work one Thursday (oh to be 18 again). We’d only spent time together in work, so this was make or break. After a couple of bottles of wine, we were soon “best friends”! I distinctly remember a conversation about only needing five good friends in your life and that we would always be on each other’s list of five. That was night one. And twelve years later, here we are! Still best friends, still loving a drink or two together. But we’ve built so much more than a drunken friendship! We’ve now got something that will last a lifetime. The moral of this is that sometimes drinking buddies will remain forever drinking buddies, but on some occurrences those drinking buddies will become the people you can rely on, the people who you get in bed with to watch Grey’s Anatomy, and the people whom you will share every moment of your life with. Pretty special, if you ask me!
The “hijacked” friendships
Three of my closest friends are people who were friends with other friends, and I hijacked that friendship. Natalie and Carolann were friends with Sarah first, but I very quickly muscled my way in and invaded their friendship. They’re clearly very happy I did so though, as we’re still close now, a decade on! Joanne, another one of my, and excuse the term, “besties”, also belonged to someone else! She was a friend of a friend and is now one of my favourite ladies! Bizarrely, the friend who introduced us is nowhere to be seen- the real friendship had the longevity! I’m all for sharing friends, needn’t monopolise a great friendship. It’s all about sharing, isn’t it? I’m not so convinced that this approach would work today, at 29, but it definitely worked a treat when I was younger!
The “married couple” friendship
Now, one of my ultimate best friends, Laura, and I have an odd story really. Laura falls into two categories- this one, and the previous one. We were introduced at Uni by a mutual friend, and instantly got along. Really well! She’s someone who I am 100% myself around, no matter what my mood is. She’s encountered me at my best and worst and loves me regardless, that’s rare and I’m lucky. However, when our then fiances met, they had a definite love at first sight relationship. Andy and Jarred are two of the same- and I never thought there would be another person as nutty as Andy out there! When the four of us are together, we’re dynamite. It is a brilliant friendship and dynamic. We’re godparents to each other’s children, and although we don’t see each other every week, we are definitely life long friends. Laura and I would be friends if the lads didn’t get along, but luckily they do and I get two best friends for the price of one! This kind of friendship is probably easier to make as an adult I think.
The “friends since infancy” friendship
Two of my friends have been in my life since I was tiny. Charlotte is the one who I’ve known since I was two. That’s 28 years of friendship points we’ve wracked up. Charlotte and I are rubbish at catching up, but do try every month or so. That just doesn’t matter. We’ve so much history that we could probably go for a year without speaking, and then pick up where we left off. I think that this is a testament to us, rather than anything else. Life gets busy. But we’re there for the long haul, and have been there for all major events. She’ll always be Charlottey on the potty to me! My other lifelong friend is Ami, and it’s a bit of a cheat one as we’re related. We both stem from the mad Matthews clan, and that’s evident in our sense of humour! Ami is one of my favourite people on the planet (I’ve a lot of those, I’m sure you’re gathering)! I just love talking to Ami and spending time with her. Our friendship is always so easy and drama free. Blissful! And our mutual love for Sex an the City, gin and music (good music, if you ask me) will always keep us together. She’s one cool lady!
Clearly, I can’t make friends now that have the history that these two have with me, but I think if someone can sustain friendships for 25+ years, there must be something fairly good about them! In short, when I start the new job in September, feeling like one of the many “new kids”, do just say hello! I can be pretty funny and I’m a good friend once I’ve lost my awkwardness- don’t mistake this for rudeness or for me being a narky cow. I’m just a bit quiet to start with (for about half an hour). And if in doubt, invite me to the pub! I’m everyone’s best mate after a few gin and tonics!
Friendships made in later life can be as solid as those made at school. I’m looking forward to seeing if this is true!