In this friend-ship, there is limited seating.Lotte Brundle with permission for Varsity

Friendships are like ships – when you rock the boat too much, you are liable to capsize it. Lord knows, the seabed of my past relationships is positively littered with those that didn’t make it. Corpses of ex-colleagues, best-friend betrayers and, worst of all, the ones who got away, lie waterlogged and forgotten.

For clarity, I didn’t drown my ex-boyfriends and leave their lifeless bodies to swim with the fishes – although given what some of them got up to, many gal-pals said they would have deserved it. I just mean that, growing older, you find that human relations are less like a pool of constant connections, and more akin to an ever-flowing trickle of interactions. Often, strangers turn to acquaintances, who turn to friends, some to lovers – some not – before most become strangers again. Or worse: enemies.

“You can only have six real friends at one time,” my housemate stated confidently the other week at our daily post-dinner gab sesh. Where did he learn this, I asked. Buzzfeed, probably. Is it true? Oh, definitely. As any good journalist would, to test his theory we carried out a thorough investigation. That is to say, we counted.

One, two, three, four, five, six. We proudly listed the names of our nearest and dearest like they were condiment items on a shopping list.

If you consider yourself to be my friend and are wondering if you made the cut, sorry to break it to you. You didn’t. If you’re really someone’s friend, you don’t have to wonder. Those who know, know, and I’d like to think my six are sure of it.

“In this friend-ship, there is limited seating”

It might sound brutal, but as I prepare to leave uni, I’ve been facing up to this stark reality. How many of these people will I really, truly know, once the bonds that tie us up in daily life are loosened? Once the invisible threads that connect us to one another are not simply stretched across the city of Cambridge, but run county-, maybe country-, wide? The answer: very few. Once you make a change to your life, only the strong survive. And I’ve got my suspicions about who will sink and who will swim.

Call me a cynic (I’ve been called worse) but I’ve played the friendship game before, and I know how it ends. Very few players make it to the finish line. I’ve played the best friend game too. And the boyfriend one (though admittedly in that particular category, I’m currently a three-year reigning champion). But it’s a universal fact that each human relationship is brutally punctuated by choices. Friendships do not renew automatically like a Netflix subscription. As you reach certain junctions in your life, you are forced to decide: do I carry on with this person, or do I jump ship? Or else, take the easy option, do nothing, and eventually let yourself drift away from them. Worse, they might have already left you in the boat alone – you just didn’t realise.


Mountain View

A reflection on ‘Cambarrassment’

As I learned the hard way in first year – the youngest person in a mature college, the oldest in my undergraduate cohort – making friends at uni is hard. Keeping them is even harder. So, I have decided. I’ve selected a bunch, like flowers, those who bring the best to my life, who challenge me, who make me think deeply and passionately about the kind of person I want to grow to be. My "best" friends, not in the conventional use of "best friend", are my friends who are, in my opinion, the best of people. Who are kind, who are good, who are honest, and who are loyal, and I plan to hold on to, if they’ll let me, so that we don’t drift apart as Cambridge becomes a distant island on the horizon of our pasts.

That said, I am, after all, merely a captain of six. In this friend-ship, there is limited seating, and once those six places are taken, I’m afraid there really isn’t room for any more passengers. Stragglers will, unfortunately, be thrown overboard. Let’s just hope the brutality of this article doesn’t make them all band together and decide that it’s me who should be made to walk the plank before graduation. Because, without my mates, I’d really struggle to keep myself afloat in this place.