No woman is an island

I have this problem. Being occasionally pig-headed, bullish and fiercely independent, somewhere down the line I got this crazy notion that I don’t need people — or, more specifically, friends. That I don’t need friends.

Growing up, I didn’t have the greatest run of luck with “best friends.” My closest buddy in elementary school was Heather, an adorable little thing who came from a big, gregarious family. Heather and I were inseparable, pairing up on field trips and having sleepovers and sharing lunches. She was the first person to introduce me to salt and vinegar chips and, as those are pretty much the greatest snack food ever, I tip my hat to you, Heather. I tip my hat to you.

That being said, I don’t know exactly what went wrong between us. One minute we were splitting heart-shaped “BFF” necklaces (or, back in the middle ages before text-speak, “Best Friends Forever” necklaces) and swapping potato chips — and the next? Well, Heather was on one side of the invisible line known as “popular vs. unpopular,” and I was on the other. Heather was definitively cool, pretty and popular, while I was Toula in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”: swarthy and bespectacled. Cute but chunky, and slightly awkward.

Middle school brought me closer to Kelly, a good friend from preschool, but we lost touch when she went to a different high school. When I entered my freshman year, I joined the theatre department — and that brought a great many interesting characters into my life. I made new acquaintances and formed new friendships, including one with Sarah, who became my best friend for a few tumultuous years. But, like everyone, she eventually let me down.

Maybe I expected too much from her — and others. And maybe they need much less — or much more — from me.

I’ve had friends from work and friends from high school. The ones from college and the ones from internships. There was the best friend with whom I did everything my freshman year of college — who later kissed my boyfriend in an alcohol-induced haze, then tearfully called up to tell me all about it. To be fair, you know, he kissed her back, but who can quite describe that betrayal? Nothing stings more than sharing your deepest feelings with someone — in this case, K. — only to have that someone turn around and stab you. In the heart. It took me a while to call anyone my “best friend” after that.

I’m not here to throw myself a pity party. I’m just giving you some background on what’s brought me to this point — the point where, at 25, I spend the majority of my time with Spencer, my parents, my sister’s boyfriend Eric, my grandparents and, of course, my sister. Through the cycles of friendships (oh, and there have been cycles), I’ve always had my real best friend — Katie — to listen to anything and everything.

Katie is the Ethel to my Lucy — or, more accurately, the Lucy to my Ethel. (I’m more of the straight-faced prankster, if you will, while Kate is the funny, outlandish and gregarious one. And she would look better as a redhead.) But outside of my sister? Well, I’m a Lucy all on her own. Shoving chocolates in her mouth like a lunatic, with no one to share the candy — and lessen the load. Stomping on grapes alone in Italy. Blundering up “Vitametavegamin” commericals without a cheering section.

Oh, and I tend toward dramatics. Have I mentioned that?

Still, it’s been easy to harden myself up. When I didn’t have good girl friends in my life, I’ve almost always had a boyfriend. Spencer has become my closest friend and confidante, and I’m very fortunate to have him in my life. But a significant other, while being a friend, cannot be your only friend. Not if you want a happy, enriched life.

So, friends, I am not an island — and none of us are. Every time I get an email from Erin, I think how lucky I am to know a woman who always, always makes time for me — and who listens without judgment, supporting me no matter what. No one quite gives advice like Erin.

And when I’m typing away in my office, answering the endless stream of emails that blink up from my taskbar? I have Sandy and Brandon, my good friends and officemates, with whom to share anecdotes and rehash the weekend’s events. As we’ve worked closely together over the years, we’ve gotten to know one another inside and out — right down to the tunes they whistle without realizing it (they hum the song from the “Vonage” commercial on repeat. It used to bother me, but now it’s like white noise).

Beyond the folks I speak with often, I have my blog friends — and I consider them just as much a part of my daily life as my “real life” friends. In many cases, I talk to them more often than I do the people I’ve known for decades! I can count on Kari Ann for funny tweets and notes, and Jessica for emails that always remind me what a small, small world we live in. It doesn’t matter that we’re geographically separated; we have so much in common, and always so much to talk about. There’s Nat and Laurel Ann; Lexi and Erica. And a slew of other fine ladies and bloggers with whom I speak often — and think of fondly. We talk books and we talk life. I’m grateful to know so many of you, and hope to meet many of you in the future.

Life is best lived with other people, it turns out. I need the daily dose of reflection I get from sharing my thoughts with others — in person; in text messages; in my newspaper columns; on my blog. I can’t clam up and retreat into my books, never daring to peek up and answer the phone. The real people in my life — the people who know me; the people I know — are there for a reason.

No woman is an island. And I will not live alone.

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17 thoughts on “No woman is an island

  1. I still haven’t found my Ethel. I have a hard time keeping good friends too. I’m pretty passive, so I guess I don’t work as hard as I should to make sure we stick together.

    My father LOVES that poem. I think he spent about a year trying to get me to memorize it. I’m still not sure if I have it correctly memorized.

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  2. Oh, this blog post is so beautiful. Like you, i often have had the idea that I don’t need friends. I’m really awkward, and I don’t talk to people really well — I express myself far better in writing. But I’m realizing that friends are so necessary to my survival in many different ways.

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  3. Ah Meg, thanks. I am touched. I think we are alike in more ways than you know.

    I have discovered over the years that two or three well placed friendships are worth more than a parcel full of casual ones. 🙂

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  4. Awww… 🙂 you’re awesome. 🙂 Crazy how the world brought us back together after years of not being in each other’s lives (and I’m so happy it did). 🙂 Hugs!!!

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  5. I couldn’t agree more with this post! I’ve had female friendships, but most peter out after a while. I found that when I became a mom, I lost a few friends because we suddenly had nothing in common with each other. Now, though, I’m lucky to have a few good friends whom I see as often as we can. Those friendships are still blossoming, but I also have my sister-in-laws (5 of them!), all of whom I get along with to one degree or another. I find that I need those female friendships in addition to my friendship with my husband to get through the ups and downs that life throws my way! AND thank goodness for bloggy friends too!!!

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  6. I have a number of friends but conversations and meet ups rarely happen due to their busy schedules. The only person who would go to me in the cinema, bookstores, or spazz over the upcoming HP movie is my sister.

    Heck. I don’t care if she could be a pain in the ass sometimes!

    Bellezza, Linda and Nat has been very supportive too. I am overwhelmed with the messages they left on my blog.

    I think having no permanent best friend allows us to create more friends without attracting jealousy or strife. Having no best friend doesn’t mean we’re already hermits!

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  7. why are female friendships so complicated? i’ve had falling outs with a other girls throughout the years, and it’s always hard because there isn’t exactly a manual for “breakups” with friends, you know? my best friend is the only one who has stuck it out with me for a long time, and i’ve made other friends too, but everyone lives a little far from me now and i wish i had some more local friends!

    the blogging world is great though. i’ve met lots of wonderful people here (like you!) and at least you know you already have stuff in common. but yes, it’s nice to get out every now and then and hang out with people who are fun to be around.

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  8. this post is so funny–i just gave my little sister a bit of a lecture about ‘diversifying her friend portfolio’. she is the type who always had ONE friend or ONE boyfriend, and no room for anyone else.

    in my annoying, older sister way, i tried to explain that those types of relationships are like investing all of one’s money in a SINGLE stock. if the stock tanks, there goes everything. if you DIVERSIFY, then you can reap dividends and rewards from many!

    i know, i know, i’m such an awesome sister and give great motivational speeches. hahahah.

    glad you recognize that you need to diversify your portfolio a bit, meg. i’m here for you!!!

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  9. i know exactly what you mean. i think it’s always a crazy coincidence how you post about things that i’m just thinking about.

    the other day my friend was telling me how i needed to start clicking with more people and make more friends. i’ve always been a shy and quiet person and usually i need someone else to approach me and talk to me first before i reply. i always took comfort in the fact that although i may not have a lot of friends in quantity, at least the few friends that i do have are quality friends. and even though i only see them a few times a month and we don’t talk often, i know that when we get together, we’ll have a blast.

    but you’re definitely right about opening up and not retreating into books for comfort. glad to see that you’re making more friends!

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  10. I think you’ve come to a great realization…is this because you turned 25?! LOL JK. It’s great that you have friends to count on. I’ve been lucky in that respect to have friends that love and support me no matter our differences or where we are.

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  11. Meg, you are such a peach! And one of these days, we’re going to be “real life” friends. I have had my fair share of friends throughout my life. But I really don’t have anyone that I talk to on a daily basis. I have 4 or 5 friends that I talk to once a week, or every other, but I think I’m a loner. I would like to sit on the couch, with a book, while my husband watches golf. The only people I talk to everyday, other than employees are my parents and my husband… well and you :)I find myself talking to you and a couple of other online friends more than anyone I have known for years. It’s funny how friendships come in and out of our lives and where the most random ones lead!

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  12. This post is perfect. I’m a former military brat and with the constant moving around, it was hard to find my ‘Ethel’. Now I have a small group of near and dear friends but it’s hard.

    Thank you for this post!

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  13. Ahhhh, I’m so happy you mentioned me in this post 🙂 Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to see it. Oh, but you put the wrong link to my blog, haha…the blog you linked to is something about Lord Voldemort’s lair…pretty interesting. LOL.

    I really appreciate the mention though. We do have so much in common. Wish we lived closer 😦

    I have the same kinds of issues. I really don’t have a best friend right now…I go through best friends in phases. Not the best :-/

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  14. I see a lot of myself in this post. And even though in high school I straddled the invisible line it did not mean that I was any better with girl friendships. Great post!

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