When talking about her HBO show ‘Girls’ which was inspired by her life, Lena Dunham discusses what prompted her to create it. She said that everything she saw on TV about female friendships was so positive and devoid of real emotion. Which is, I must sadly admit, sort of true.
Of course we see the occasional jealousy when a friend gets married first, or finds a new best friend, or the disconnect when a woman becomes a mother before the others in her group. But we are talking about instances that occur a countable number of times in our entire life here. What about the rest of it?
I like the equation shared by Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna. It’s real. It sure as hell isn’t #squadgoals by a long shot, but isn’t that just a term people use on Instagram to hashtag photographs of themselves dressed up for a party? I think it is.
I have a lot of women friends, I’ve always been a girl’s girl. And they are all very close friends because with me it’s all in or all out (hey, get your mind out of the gutter!). My women friendships have of course been the bedrock that I’ve built my life upon.
But the truth is it’s never perfect, our friendship. At least, not squad goals perfect, and not just because none of us could ever bother dressing up and doing our makeup or holding a decent pout without bursting into a fit of giggles in under five seconds. But because we’re flawed human beings, and we will be flawed friends.
Like I am going to try really hard to be happy for my friend when she snapchats me pictures of her and her boyfriend every day. But I am in a long distance relationship and I don’t know when I will see my boyfriend. And it makes me really sad sometimes so I don’t snap her back. I don’t even heart emoji her back. But she still keeps doing it, until I just send that “You guys are adorable!” message. She’s in love, I get it. And to be fair he is a wonderful guy and who else would she show her love to if not her best friend?
But then my boyfriend dumps me. And I am undergoing all the trauma of heartache and loss. And she is well aware. Yet, she continues snapping me pictures of her and her boyfriend at the beach and at home and in his car, their arms draped around each other and that sappy in-love smile plastered silly across their faces. So I do what everyone does, I get off snapchat and lay low. I avoid speaking to her as much as I can.
But when she needs to vent about her asshole of a boss, I am gonna listen. And when she gets a new job I will be over the moon about it, even though my own career seems a bit hazy at the point. See, I am not a bad best friend. I’m just not the greatest there ever was.
I get jealous.
Because misery loves company and most certainly is not a fan of happy people. Urgh. Happy people.
But the truth is, sometimes I am the happy people. I wake up and decide to give life my all. I am grateful for the job I have that gives me endless opportunities to grow. I am feeling completely positive about being single and confident about my true love still being out there. My Bipolar is tipping up and it looks like I’m a little manic, taking on more projects than even five of me can handle and talking all day about productivity and chasing dreams. I also want to listen, because come on, I want to be a good friend.
But I don’t want her to drag me down with her. You see, she’s been in a slump. She’s a little sad and confused, feeling a little insecure about all the new people I love and the things I want to accomplish. It makes her uneasy, distant, cold, passive aggressive. She snaps more at me. I don’t understand it. Bad vibes, I say. She needs to get her shit together.
You see, I talk about accepting people. About listening without judging. About not wanting to change others. About letting people be. But suddenly I realise that it isn’t all that easy. I speak of loving unconditionally but then I say I’m done. I can’t help anyone who doesn’t want help. But that’s the thing, she didn’t want my help. She just wanted a friend. Maybe I was one, or maybe I wan’t. Who knows?
But too much sunshine creates a desert, they say. So I am burned out in a few months. And I am drained. And suddenly I look up to see her sunshine positive beam. I don’t want more light now, I am comfortable in the darkness. In the quiet stillness of silence. I don’t want the light she tries to shine on me. But she doesn’t listen to the words that I don’t say. And yet again, my silence conveys nothing. Can’t she just ask me what the matter is. She knows that something is the matter. But she doesn’t ask. She can’t handle my misery because she is on a run away from her own. And I don’t volunteer to tell her because I am not sure if she will understand.
I am supposed to be the best friend, right? BFFs don’t take in sickness and in health till death do us part vows, we take in heartbreaks and in happiness for eternity even after our bodies have passed vows. Not in front of a church filled with people, but in numerous letters, and text messages, and over long hugs and silly phone calls. And those matter.
So how do I say that her success makes me feel more incompetent about myself than proud of her? How can I just say “Hey, here is the deal. You are a great person and a good friend and have done nothing out of the ordinary to upset me. But I am upset and it is because of you. I am a little crappy and I don’t really feel like celebrating with or for you right now. Can we please discuss your hopes and dreams when mine start coming true as well?”
You see, nobody says that. It’s a HORRID thing to say! But we all think it, at some point, with some friend.
So I go back to the slump. This time I’ve got material for her. My unfortunate dead-end job, my stagnant life, my broken heart that isn’t healing. But she seems.. happy. She wants to chase her dreams and make a change and she updates her instagram every day. When I complain, she doesn’t join in. Misery.. loves.. company.
So I take flight and seek refuge in my ‘real’ best friend. But I soon realise that our lives have gone on tangents so separate that we now speak two different languages. Try building a Babel communicating in I-met-another-clown-last-Saturday and I-am-quitting-on-love. It takes you nowhere, I swear. You don’t even reach Burj Khalifa, let alone heaven. In fact, you probably don’t even reach the top of my five storied apartment.
But I digress chasing comedic metaphors.
We order two Caramel Shekaratos, one tall and one grande, and sit down to catch up. We’ve known each other since we were ten-year-olds. We speak about our lives, and how it has changed. We speak about a place we once called home. We speak about old classmates. We speak about old lovers and about friends we made in our school buses. Everything feels okay for a short while. We bid farewell.
I reach home and see a sunshine positive text: I think we are friendship goals.
Was she for real? But I was mad at her. Besides, we can’t even strike a pose or pout or….
Thank you, Lena Dunham. You say it as it is.