On friendship (and a stupid little imp who’s going down the well)

I was thinking about this thing I’ve noticed. There seems to be some INVISIBLE RULZ about when it’s OK to call somebody a ‘friend’.

Not in the facebook sense, obviously.

It seems reasonable to me, to call anyone I’ve taken a liking to, who I’ve seen a few times and had a friendly, personal type conversation with a friend.

Surely there’s no need to have time limits, or other conditions attached to the “status” of friendship. I mean it’s kind of not that big of a deal, really. It’s not like getting married or anything.

I like you, we’ve had a nice chat, you seem to like me – welcome to the friends of Jani Jellybean. Have a chocolate biscuit!

Here is one of my splendid friends, Ziggy, and she really likes chocolate biscuits. Vegan chocolate biscuits make her go like this:

but here is a rather better photo of her……so she doesn’t slap me….

I’ve noticed though, that it can get a bit loaded, that word ‘Friend’ (along with inviting somebody to your home, but that’s another blog post entirely!!!).

For example: you’ve been asked to a party, or dinner, or asked for advice, or had something personal shared, or even asked to be part of a special event for somebody, and instead of being honoured you feel a little confused, almost affronted.

‘We’re not even very close friends’ you think.

‘They must not really have many friends’ you think.


Like, seriously. What’s THAT all about?

There seems to be this nasty little imp on our shoulder, putting limits on when we can reach out in friendship to somebody, deciding when somebody is ‘close enough’ to be called a friend and included in our lives. There are conditions. You have to pass some tests. There’s something to PROVE, people!

Now, this imp blatantly comes from a place of yukky insecurity and not from our awesome real selves at all. It’s the little blighter that cuts us off from potential support and good times by convincing us that somebody can’t possibly like and admire us enough to ask us into their lives. There must be some mistake, right?

Somebody say asks me to dinner, or they send me a nice message, or whatever. The little imp is all about “Why are they asking ME? Don’t they HAVE any MATES?”

The imp clearly thinks that there must be something wrong with them if they’ve reached out in friendship to ME.

It works the other way, too. I’ve had a weird reaction when I call somebody my friend, or invite them round, or whatever. As if I’ve stepped over some invisible barrier and, sometimes, even caused offence! Whoops. I didn’t meet the requirement, whatever that was.

Mr Imp is also ready with a comeback when I think “Gosh, I like that person, I may ask them round for tea and biscuits”. He says “Don’t be an idiot. They’ll think you’re a right sad case, you don’t know them well enough”.

Or, the imp makes up all SORTS of stupid reasons why somebody is being chummy. They must be after something. He’s really quite an inventive little blighter!

Isn’t that a bit ghastly, really, when you think of it. Ghastly and darn silly.

The reality is that a connection can be formed between two people without too much preamble, without conditions having to be met. Friendships can be lifelong, or last just a few minutes. One of my best friendships EVER lasted exactly the length of the Great South Run and I can’t remember her name now, but we got each other round that course. We rocked that friendship. Big time.

These connections are what life’s all about, they allow us to grow, to understand ourselves and …. well… they’re fun. We’d be mega, mega stupid not to grab every chance at friendship that passes our way.

So I’ve made myself a little promise. A life-changing one. When I see that little imp pop it’s head up, I’m going to take it out back and throw it down the well. I’m going to accept that people actually like me, because I’m pretty darn awesome – m’kay?!

Whilst we’re at it – if I like you and call you friend, it’s not because I’m Billy-no-mates and can’t do any better, it’s because you rock. Capiche?

Chocolate biscuits all round!


On friendship (and a stupid little imp who’s going down the well) — 11 Comments

  1. That little imp in me tells me that I shouldn’t write here because I only just got to know you very vaguely at the Arthouse. But following your advice, I do: I really like your posts (friendship, read-thread, not-getting-married)! They are simple, funny and they touch the point. I keep reading them as the best diversion and inspiration during breaks at work.

  2. Hi Barbara – thanks so much for ignoring the imp 🙂 it’s always great to know that my posts are being read and are of value to somebody, makes it worthwhile 🙂

  3. What else can I say but that you’re my friend? Not because I want to be funny, but because you certainly fit your own definition 😉

    Lovely and wise post, with this as my favourite bit: “We’d be mega, mega stupid not to grab every chance at friendship that passes our way.”

  4. Thank you Jani, I like this … a LOT… I’m just beginning to find situations and meeting people who I feel good being with after a life so far of feeling totally like a fish out of water, a real Billy No Mates… and it’s all come about because I’m doing things that are right for me and mixing with people who are doing things they are passionate about also. The support and friendship I’ve received from the FB poetry group I recently joined has been phenomenal and quite an emotional experience for me. I’ve already made more friends through my connections with The Art House than I’ve made in all the years leading up to now… mainly because I can leave the little imp in the well now and be myself… thank you for being a fab and groovy friend to me Jani and everybody who has reached out and said hi, you’re nice to know, come and share with us… Love and Hugs, Clare Selina xx

  5. LOVE you and your blog, Sis 🙂
    And I have been meeting this Mr. impy lately a lot (last 4-5 years), I have never had troubles with him before.. It must be imp epidemic (or we’re just getting older? naah) 🙂
    But you know what? I call you my friend coz I love you, even if we did not meet each other other than virtually and no so long ago. It is a feeling, not a what we do or not do or how it goes further and if you like me or you will call me a friend:-)
    And even if it is a later development for me, I realize now that I am free to call someone a friend even if they do not agree, haha, just because I love them. Thank you for such a timely blog 🙂
    hugs all around

  6. I like this post. I was told earlier this year that I had ‘too many friends.’ As you might guess, that relationship didn’t last. I have friends I’ve known since childhood, friends I have a lot in common with and friends I disagree with, and we all fill different roles for each other. I now have many friends (and count you as one) whom I have never met in person but who have a wonderful impact on my life. Of course, I did ask myself if I really had too many friends and if I needed to prune my social life in order to fit that person in. As it turned out, I couldn’t bear to do any pruning. That gave me my answer. I love all my people in all their guises and even when they exasperate me I am glad they are in my life. Thank you, Jani, for such a thought provoking post x

  7. I can’t imagine pruning friends for a relationship, Harriet, good choice! Delighted to call you friend xxx

  8. Funny your post should apprear today on friendship…..ive just been into facebook and unfriended people who are in paper ‘facebook’friends when in reality they arent friends at all and treat me badly (sounds very sad but you knowe what I mean)…so ive taken a very bold step to get on with things and leave them in the past.

    my friend has a great saying on friends…

    “They can be here for a reason, a season or for life”

    and im decluttering my head and my facebook page and my heart ….:-)

    I guess my post is at odds with what you are writing about…but I think I dwell on things too much sometimes and jyst wanted to share that its ok to let go at times when its not a good friendship.

    ps Jani I definitely consider you a friend….I have tea with you a lot…and cake….just virtually…:-)