If, after reading the title of this blog, you were expecting to read a sordid account of my wild and adventurous teenage years (they were quiet and boring!) then I have two things to say to you….1) you have a filthy mind …..2) I like you already!
No, todays blog – short and sweet for a change for me isn’t about the size of anything other than your friendship circle.
We live in a society driven by social media these days which can be both painful and powerful. Many people, particularly but not exclusively the younger generation, gauge their self-worth according to the number of ‘likes’, ‘retweets’ or social engagement they receive on a status they post out to the world. Their self-esteem is inextricably linked to their social media status and that has a whole host of dangers attached to it!
Back in my day (*puts false teeth in a glass*) engagement meant marriage and social media was unheard of. Back then you were judged as part of the ‘crowd’ you associated with. The braniacs, the athletes, the pretty girls, the slappers (colloquial term for sexually promiscuous young ladies). The list was endless. I have to say that I don’t think I belonged exclusively to any group and instead had traits of them all (except for the slappers one. Don’t worry Mum). But nevertheless, you had a tribe and those friends helped to shape and define you through your formative years.
As a teenager, it was really important to have a lot of friends around me. Lots of people to bounce off and interact with. I was still finding my feet in the world, learning who I was and what I stood for. Our friends are a crucial part in helping us with that. Even through my twenties I still wanted a large network of friendships around me as I explored my options in the world.
But as I have grown older I have realised something that only age and experience teaches you. That you don’t actually need a certain number of friends, just friends you can be certain of.
Even in the last couple of years I have learned to let go of the idea that it means something to be ‘liked’ by lots of people. I am happy to trade that for being loved by the ones who matter and though I still class myself as a gregarious people person, I am no longer defined by the number of people around me. I am finally happy in my own skin regardless of what others think and the irony of that is that I am now attracting people into my life who are absolutely brilliant.
I used to hope that, at the end of my life, a church would be packed full of people who wanted to pay their respects to me. My funeral plan even covers the transportation via double decker buses from the church to the crematorium (not really). But now, I don’t believe it matters. I may still in fact need that double decker bus because I know that I am very fortune to know a lot of incredibly wonderful people and chances are they will know there’s cheese at the wake so they won’t miss the funeral!
But my message to my younger self would be to look at the circle of friends around you. Treasure the few who mean the most to you through the years and know that you are not defined by the people who choose to be with you but by the person you choose to be. It’s taken almost 40 years for me to realise that size doesn’t matter when it comes to friendships. It’s the quality that counts.
Please note, I can’t say this phrase is true for all aspects of life. For example, if you’re going to offer me cheese and crackers, you better believe that the size of the cheddar pile is all I’m interested in! (What else did you think I was going to say? Cheeky!) Read a bit more about me and the cheese monster that I am, here.
If you would like to read the first chapter of my book, click here for a free download or here to purchase the book which is out now with brilliant reviews! (link to kindle. Paperback version also available)