Friendships, IRL .

Friendship is a complicated concept. Something I've learned over the years is that there's no one definite definition of friendship – there's a vast spectrum of friendships, plural. All these different definitions are intricately unique and bafflingly complex. 

Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to get a ticket to IRL Panel, the legendary event created by blogging superheroes Emma Gannon (@girllostincity) and Laura Jane Williams (@superlativelyLJ). 
The theme for the night and the discussions was FRIENDSHIP. 
Now when I say I was 'lucky enough' to get a ticket, I mean insanely fortunate to have a thoughtful and lovely friend in Ms Hannah Billie Perry who bought two tickets and thought to offer the spare one to me. What a legend she is. A perfect example of a good friendship! 

The panel consisted of obviously Emma and Laura, plus guests Nadin Hadi (writer and consultant on film distribution, writes at Jade Coles (lifelong Londoner, events curator and cultural producer for Soho House, founder of @TheExRev, producer of feminist choir Gaggleand Lucy Sheridan ('The Comparison Girl', speaker and coach who helps people get past the insecurities that come with social media and writes for Grazia, Daily Mail and Hay House)

As if it weren't exciting enough to be in a room with all these brilliant people, at least a third of them were internet friends – people I already knew/loved but hadn't met yet.
The magical Fiona Longmuir (@EscapologistGl), awesome Harriet (@TheScribbleBug) are just a couple of my online besties I got to officially meet and chat with after the panel discussion. 

I also got to meet people whom I'd been mega nervous about even being in the same room as – Daisy Buchanan for one, @NotRollergirl who writes the funniest and most gorgeous things, and is just as vibrant 'in real life' as she is in the blogosphere. She topped up my prosecco and complimented my shoes, nails and rings all at once. I could only respond with slightly gushing over-excited love for her writing and her as a human being. 
I was also beyond psyched to meet Katie, aka Scarphelia, the perf badass blogger who has been an Instagram crush of mine for quite some time now. I left without getting the chance to have a good long natter with her, but oh well, I'm sure we'll be out trawling the coffee shops of Brighton someday soon. 

One of the topics that was brought up in the panel, and then spoken about for quite some time as everyone (including us in the audience) had a story or theory about it, was the 'breaking up' situation with friends. When you realise the friendship isn't working out for you, and need to get the hell out of there. What do you do?
I have had first hand experience of this, quite recently actually, and I was so interested in hearing others' opinions and stories about it. The absolute babe LJ (I have called her that in my head for a while now, I have no idea if she's actually Laura or...?) wrote a blog post about this recently over on Superlatively Rude; how she had a friend who was a toxic presence in her life and one day as she walked over Waterloo Bridge she realised this and more importantly realised she didn't have to put up with it any more. Heck yeah. 

My friendship break-up (it really needs a better name...) was years in the making, and much like LJ it just took me realising I deserved better and I couldn't carry on with that level of toxicity and nastiness taking up space in my mind and slowly but surely poisoning me. I ended things very civilly via text, and as soon as I did I felt a weight lift. I can't believe I didn't do it sooner.
I am currently in a phase of my life when I'm finally starting to make time for me, prioritise myself, and that's great. It's about time. My friends should support me in this, surely. Not have me enslaved, putting them first always and losing sight of myself in their presence. 

I like to think I'm a good friend. I keep in contact fairly consistently, I make plans whenever possible, and I buy the best birthday presents (albeit on a budget, usually). If I get a call in the middle of the night then I'll be on hand to help with whatever is happening, to the best of my ability (that will be a more valuable promise when I get my driving licence back...). I listen and advise, but don't get offended when my tips aren't taken on board. I am pretty good at finding the right backgrounds and light sources for selfies. I can sense when a situation needs a cup of tea, or a glass of wine.
Having said all this, I know I may not be everyone's best fit for a best friend. And that's okay. Different people need different qualities, different personalities they can bounce off or play with. 

I have written a lot of posts in the past about friends and friendships. Here are some: 

Stopping the rambling now and going back to the IRL Panel showed me several times, about various topics, that it's not just me. I am not the only one to feel this way or that way, to have this thing happen or that thing not happen. This event was just what I needed, and you can bet I'll be first in line for the next one. 
Although maybe next time I'll stay overnight at a friend's, so I can linger a little later doing the 'schmoozing' thing, wine in hand, with like-minded people. 

The very first IRL Panel; how I wish I'd been at this one, too!


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