Words by: Coby Renkin Art by: Lauren Easter
I spent a lot of my high school years feeling a little disconnected from the people I surrounded myself with. I had friends — people I adored and spent all my spare time with, but I often found myself questioning whether they were really ‘my people’.
It didn’t take long after finishing high school for me to figure out that most of them were categorically not my people. I recognised that some weren’t good for me, but for the most part, I just realised they weren’t the friends I wanted to surround myself with forever. Circumstances also meant I drifted from a few I would’ve loved to keep close.
I spent my first years at uni feeling like I didn’t have a ‘group’, and I spent time wondering when I would find that idyllic early-adulthood circle of friends that I would grow up with, and have all my embarrassing, formative, sentimental, you-name-it experiences with. None of this is to say I didn’t have good people in my life — I did (and still do) have people from my teenage years that I would do anything for, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous of the people my age who I saw surrounded by a big group of friends they did anything and everything with.
In my second year of university, I reconnected with my best friend from primary school and I met a new best friend in one of my classes. I felt like I had new people in my life who I knew, without a doubt, were my people.
In my third and fourth years, I learnt to put myself out there and back myself more — and I met so many new faces as a result. Faces that soon became some of the best people I know and my most treasured friendships. Fast-forward to now, and all those new friendships have continued to grow. My primary school bestie introduced me to all her friends, and they are some of the best people in my life. My various uni friends met at different events and now I have an incredible group of people who I get to have all those quintessential uni experiences with. I have friends I can get drunk and embarrassed with; I have friends I can sit in the Macca’s car park talking for seven hours with; I have friends I can lay next to for an entire night while we scroll on TikTok in silence. I have friends I’ve travelled with, friends I’ve cried with, and friends I can do absolutely nothing with.
I have friends who make me feel loved, valued and supported beyond measure while simultaneously calling me out on my shit or bagging me (lovingly, I hope) at every chance they get. Friends I can take well-thought-out, Insta-perfect pics with, and friends I forget to take any photos with because we’re just having too much fun.
And almost all of those friends fit into almost all of those categories. I am quite literally obsessed with the people I surround myself with.
I don’t know if there’s a whole lot of value in what I’m saying here, this has mostly just been a huge ego boost for my mates (which I’m sure I’ll hear about if they read this). While there’s nothing I love more than writing down my thoughts that likely no one else has any interest in, I would like this piece to be a little more than that — because I think 2019 Coby would have loved to read something like this for a little reassurance. So, my closing thoughts:
- Letting go of the people in your life who don’t feel right for you is so scary but so worth it. History alone is not a reason to stay friends with someone.
- It might take a little while for you to find the people you consider your people. The wait sucks, and it’d be nice if it came earlier, but it’s still worth it and it will happen.
- In a perfect world, you’d find them walking down the street with your headphones in and no effort, but in reality, you’re probably going to need to try a little. That doesn’t mean making a ‘looking for friends’ post in your local Facebook group, but it does mean finding your space, what you’re interested in or what you enjoy, and getting to know the people in that space.
- You’ll know you’ve found your people when you find them. If you’re questioning if the friends you have are right for you, they’re probably not (sorry). But that’s okay, because the right ones are out there!
- The one-big-perfect-group thing is pretty unrealistic; I have multiple groups of people I love that are all perfect.
- Good friendships have a ripple effect. Someone you have a genuine connection with likely surrounds themselves with other people that you’ll find a genuine connection with, too. Make friends with your friends’ friends, and introduce your friends to your other friends!
- Quality will still ALWAYS outweigh quantity. You’re lucky if you have lots of good friends, but just as lucky with two if you can trust them, be yourself, and have fun with them.