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Liselore’s ‘life lessons’ // An ode to messy friendships

 

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There’s a poem by the Dutch poet Lucebert, called ‘Kleine Lehrbuch des Positivismus’. In it, he suddenly puts a footnote in a lyrical summary. The people who read it, see an admonition to one of his friends: “And return the books that you have borrowed years ago!”

Some of you may know that I’m an editor and translator at Moderne Hippies, as well as a blogger. In this capacity, I regularly stumble upon words or phrases in another blogger’s voice, that I don’t quite agree with. Moderne Hippies is a blogger’s collective, so not all bloggers have the same opinions on everything (thank god, otherwise it would get very boring). Sometimes, though, I would like to place a footnote at certain articles.

For instance: a few weeks ago, I read Zoë’s ‘5 tips // Being happy in your own skin’ , which contained a comment that got me thinking: “If you hadn’t noticed (and most of us don’t): an insecure person looking for approval is tiring. People who are confident and happy in their own skin don’t like to interact with people with such negative energy.” Well, let’s agree to disagree: I’m not the most confident person on earth (to put it mildly), but I think I’m pretty fun to hang out with, and I’m sure my friends will agree (or will they…? Damned insecurity!). You couldn’t pay me to be friendly to shiny, happy, confident people all the goddamn time; if anything sounds tiring, it’s that. This article is an ode to imperfection and messiness, in life and in friendships.

What is the essence of friendships? For me, a real friendship is about two things: sharing and keeping it real. When my best friends tell me they’re happy, of course I’m overjoyed. But my joy is based on the fact that we’re always telling each other the truth, even if it’s a harsh truth. If I thought that my friends would tell tall tales because they didn’t want to complain, or because they wanedt to be brave and keep it all inside, or because they want to be ‘better’ than they are? Then we wouldn’t be as close as we are right now. Sharing raw emotions, whether they are positive or negative, brings you closer together. Perfection, on the other hand, creates distance.

I haven’t always been good at sharing my feelings. Especially during the last few years, when I felt bad on a regular basis, I’ve often retreated within myself. I didn’t want to be whiny, with never any positive things to tell, so i thought: I’ll call next week, or next month, surely things will have improved by then? Until one of my best friends told me: ‘Lies, when you’re not okay, you just disappear. Make yourself visible. Even if you want to tell us every day how miserable you feel, we’ll be there for you.” (Another trait of good friends: they know you through and through and can kick your ass…) From that day, I’m in close contact with my best girlfriends again and it’s wonderful! Every day feels like a party. I have two ‘core groups’ (or are they called squads nowadays?) of friends and we communicate mostly by WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, since every group contains friends that live abroad. But we talk every day and it’s almost as good as in real life! The other day, I found myself crying with laughter in the middle of the night, when one of my friends told us on WhatsApp about her awkward one-night stand. But on another day, we also support each other during burn-outs or break-ups. We talk about everything: problems in relationships, at work or with being a mother; being in love; break-ups, feelings of depression or anxiety, insecurities and doubts. And my friend was totally right, because I feel the same way with other: I’d rather share everything, no matter how sad or difficult, with my friends the moment it happens, instead of hearing a story of healing and new insights after months of silence. I’d rather have the rollercoaster instead of the whitewashed version. Because the edited version is often a smokescreen to hide behind, the Instagram filter for your emotions.

Give me reality and honesty. Any day. With an added bonus: your can show yourself too – the full Monty, also the things that you don’t like to admit because you don’t like them very much. Sometimes, I wish I was a ‘better’ version of myself: full of empathy, patient, sweet, helpful and full of wisdom. Alas, it isn’t so: jealousy, rage, melancholy feelings, fear of change, petty irritations, insecurities, I have them all. Luckily, my friends recognize these feelings. They also know that those things are but one side of the coin. Like Meredith Brooks sang, back in the ’90’s:  “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover/I’m a child, I’m a mother/ I’m a sinner, I’m a saint.” Rock on, messy friendships! They keep you sane in a world gone crazy.

Love, Liselore

P.S. The title is free after Katie Roiphe’s “In praise of messy lives”.

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