Happy 30th birthday, Emily McGovern. This one’s for you. Your own blog post. And seeing as I’ve got a measly total of six on my site, my blog is now officially 16.67% about you. Which is fitting, because you have been the biggest fan of my writing since the start – sharing, retweeting, bigging up – and for that I cannot thank you enough. It’s that quality, and many more, that make you the perfect exemplar for this title:
How to be an awesome friend.
These pointers are what I try and live by*, and it’s easy when I have people in my life who reflect the love right back. Jees, this is *gu-shy*. Deal with it. To some, this may be second-nature (verging on patronising), and to others; mind-blowing.
*I’ve never shared this before. Another bloody frontier. There weren’t many private layers left to start with. Ahem.
1. Celebrate people
Wave the flag. Be jumping up and down at the sidelines. Sing their anthem, whatever it may be (as long as it’s not racist, homophobic, hate-inciting etc. etc.). And do it publicly. Tell the world how proud you are; tell people you’ve just met.
Emily is wonderful at this. She is proudly my biggest fan, and I know without doubt that she will share every article I write, and tell me how wonderful I am for writing it. I don’t blog for the praise, just like authors don’t write for the glowing reviews, or athletes don’t compete so they might one day be Sports Personality of the Year. But I don’t think any of us can deny that those moments are bloody wonderful. And it’s not just the big stuff; just to know someone’s giggled at a joke I’ve written has the power to turn my day around. To be able to rely on this feeling from someone, and know that they’re there, at the sidelines, a steadfast fan, is priceless. Thanks Em.
2. Appreciate people
I’m grateful for everything. Right now, it’s Friday evening, the sun is shining, and I’m sat next to fountains outside the Barbican that I stumbled across out of chance. It’s wonderful. Anyone who’s read my first blog will know that I have a frequent habit of looking up to the sky to say thank you to whoever may be listening. Naturally, I’m grateful for the people in my life too, and I think this is the single most important thing you can do for someone. Appreciate them. Be delighted to see them. They’re your friend; you should be. Or maybe you need to check in with yourself and realise just how much you do appreciate them, and then this will follow.
Shower love at them like a dog being reunited with its owner. Do the equivalent of licking them all over their face and bundling them to the floor. ‘Equivalent’ being the key word here. Be aware of how important people are to you so that it shows through when you’re with them. And tell people how pleased you are to spend time with them. After a total of seven months without seeing each other due to our respective country-hopping, I went round to Emily’s to be greeted with an excited shriek, a giant hug and an “It’s so good to see you!” And it made me feel important, because in that moment I knew I was worth a lot to someone. Thanks Em.
3. Be interested in people
Everyone loves talking about themselves. Or has a topic that they love chatting about. (Just ask me how many blog views I’ve had. Please. Ask me.) Your job as a friend is to find that topic, at that particular moment. It’s to really, properly, fully listen.
Sometimes conversation isn’t always 50/50 and that’s fine, but overall, it should balance out. Emily will check in with me on everything. She’ll remember when I have a date, and will ask for all the juicy details on anything I might have mentioned over text. This makes me feel interesting, and it lets me talk about things that I clearly want or need to talk about. Thanks Em.
4. Notice people
It’s always nice to be reminded that you exist. One of my pet hates in London is when you pass people in the street and they don’t leave you enough space to get by; it makes me question whether I exist because there isn’t enough room for a human being to fit through. Don’t make people feel like that. Emily will say if she loves my outfit, will remember to mention something she saw I posted, will notice my reaction to something and deduce what I might be feeling. All this is life-affirming, reassuring me that I exist, and that people are noticing. Thanks Em.
Emily McGovern, I am grateful for you every day. Happy 30th birthday, hot stuff. You bloody rock.
Emily has her own highly amusing and interesting blog that she has been using to document her recent globe-trotting; go here for giggles and travel inspiration.