Monday, 13 August 2012

# 106 Getting the friendship quota

Here's an interesting one I've been thinking about for a while. I read 'Most of My Friends Are My Co-Workers' on xoJane and I was thinking about how the boundaries have changed in my life in recent months.

I worked in offices for years. Some had as few as 8 people in them, some had thousands. I did make friends in all the companies I worked, but some more than others and on different levels. It depended mostly on the office style and how far everyone was commuting. But I've never really kept up with any of them. People tend to go their separate ways and I'm living further north than ever before so it's been hard to keep in contact with people on a regular and constructive basis. Things always seem to fizzle eventually.

My last job (the first and only one I've had since being in Lincoln) didn't lend itself to friendships and I was quick to leave it behind once University life beckoned. And for the last three years I've had a number of student friends rather than out and out co-workers. But that's over now and everyone has drifted all over the country. So that's the end of that. Facebook is now the only lifeline and I know it means I will only keep up with these people virtually as their lives appear in small chunks on my newsfeed.

With what I now do, working from home on my own, most of my co-worker friendships are people I meet on the internet for individual collaborative projects. If I'm lucky our paths will cross more than once but as people are placed here, there and everywhere the chances of me seeing any of them outside the studio is remote. It means actual friendships are quite limited although work based as the aforementioned article suggests will be the case. But it's not like being in an office with people five days a week.

My one proud achievement is my best friend who I have now known for 23 years and was one of my first pen pals. We just kind of gelled. Most of the friends I have now who are not connected with work are people I have met through other people since I have moved to Lincoln either in town or by mutual introduction on Facebook. That's a pretty sad track record if I'm honest and I'm not proud of it.

Equally I am well aware that if I moved town I'd be starting over again except for my best friend. I guess that's a good reason to stay put. Although I think I'd more consciously look to fill my free time with real people now that work is a solitary affair much of the time and I'm stuck at home far too often.

All this has been acceptable whilst a place of work was filling days. Human contact was there, even if it wasn't a lifelong bond. Working from home segregates you and means your friendships are periphery, here one day gone the next. And limited income means getting out is also restricted. I have to prioritise bills on a very real level that leaves no room for random spending. Not that I'm using it as an excuse. Well maybe I am. But already the restrictions on my personal life mean that the friendships outside of work I have made over the last four years have started to slip. And that worries me.

So I'm thinking that now it's a reality something will have to change. I'd just like some normal friendships, hassle free, trivial conversation. As I've got older everyone has got more complicated although I'm thinking this might be because I am mixing with people a lot younger than me. Most people my age have sorted their shit out by now and don't have time for school based trivialities. Life just gets more serious. It's the way of the world. You have other things to worry about like paying bills, pensions and quality time with family because you realise everyone has got older and suddenly noone is going to be around forever (a terrifying notion on its own that I try not to think about).

I don't have a game plan for what happens next. But I suspect by the end of the year, I'll have gone stir crazy so it's something that bothers me. End of the year also means I have a number of choices to make and I'm hoping things will dovetail. They have a habit of doing that but I know I shouldn't bank on fate taking the upper hand. Now is the time to take control - for real.

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