Editor’s Letter: On Friendships, Big and SmallBy Angelica Malin
As I lay on the sofa with my best friend last night, watching Blue Planet and eating Green and Black’s chocolate, I started thinking friendships. How beautiful they are, like a translucent thread that runs through your life, invisible to the naked eye, but so present within you. Friendships are so delicate; something that no-one but you can see, a cloak of invisibility, carrying their own glistening of magic.
Sometimes, it’s hard to write from the heart. We’d much rather write from the head; guided by thoughts, not emotions, creating false narratives and telling a version of a story that we would like the world to hear. We become our own ventriloquists; saying what we’d like to be heard, rather than letting our emotions run out of us, wild and free. Sometimes, we want to hold our truth in, bottling it, letting it age like a vintage wine, and hope that no-one sees it.
I would love to tell a narrative that I have always been happy, always been secure, always been sure of myself, but it’s not the truth. If the #MeToo campaign has taught us anything, it’s what we must fight for truth, whatever the cost. We must force ourselves to take a truth serum, and let ourselves be vulnerable to the world.
So here’s some of my truths: for years, I felt insecure about friendships and wasn’t sure, exactly, who I was. Growing up, I was always trying to fit in – I was the only Jewish girl in my entire school of 700 and I wore the burden, the mark of difference, heavier than the Magen Dovid around my neck. I spent years trying to explain myself away, explain why I didn’t eat pork or sing the school hymns, why my parents didn’t drive on Fridays and why my holidays were spent in Israel, explain why, why, why. I had a childhood of why’s, while everyone else just had a because.
This self-doubt extended to my friendships – I didn’t feel, perhaps, that I naturally fitted in with those I grow up with. Separated, perhaps, by some invisible line – a postcode, a title, a signet ring, a trust fund, an understanding of the rules of polo. And I struggled, for so long, to understand what was wrong with me – when, of course, the answer was never inside me. I was always looking in the wrong place. It wasn’t until university, that I found my people and, in turn, I found myself.
When I met my best friends at university, I knew, almost instantly that the years of self-doubt at school had never been my burden to carry. We cannot always choose our upbringing, the life we’re born into or our family tree, but we can choose our attitude – how we chose to see the world. The wonderful, mad, loving, caring friends I met at university made me realise that what matters, above all else, is being comfortable. In yourself, in your world, in your life.
So, what, if I didn’t have the biggest group of friends? So what if I didn’t have What’s App groups with thousands of messages buzzing through every second? So what if I wasn’t still close to my childhood friends? We are here, in the now, and what matters is your happiness today – in this very moment. I have to come to appreciate friendships more and more, as I grow up. Truth is: it doesn’t matter about numbers – you can all the friends in the world but still feel lonely – but what matters is the depth and intensity of your friendships. I have come to make peace with having a few, really close friends and stopped myself being put out by big group photos on Facebook or the perception of other people’s social lives. A beautiful thing happens, when we stop comparing our lives to others and allow ourselves to breathe.
When you’re young, all you want is to fit in. Funny really, that as we get older, we strive more and more for individuality, for our own interests, hobbies, passions, that we fight so hard to keep, in a world that tries to tell us to be the same. And yet, when you’re young, all you want is to shrink yourself down, a tiny Russian doll version of yourself, and look, like, act like everyone else. We’re born into a skin – but that doesn’t mean we know how to wear it, how to feel in it. We grow into it. We grow into our own skin, until one day we look in the mirror and realise we’ve finally become the person we were designed to be.
This is much like friendships. Friendships grow and flourish with the ebb and flow of time – sometimes we grow into them, sometimes we grow out of them. But what I do know, is that we need them. We need a safe space to retreat into, a place where you can wear no make-up, sit on a sofa eating your way through a bar of Greek & Black’s chocolate whilst watching Blue Planet and just talking about nothing, or everything. Friendships are an extension of the life we choose. Surround yourself with people that lift you up, not bring you down, it will make all the difference. To the girls who will always sit on a sofa with me, I am forever grateful.