How to tell a French person that you’re lost.
Not to date Henry VIII.
The difference between a stalactite and stalagmite (‘tights come down’).
New towns and volcanoes. Prime numbers and bunsen burners.
And last, but not least; the correct way to put a condom on a cucumber, (I went to a girl’s school and this, my friends, was sex ed).
What they don’t teach you however, is how to make friends.
They don’t tell you how to accept a compliment without snorting. When to speak and when to Shut Right Up. They don’t explain why you’re not part of the in-crowd and never will be. They don’t teach you how to fake confident. Or the social implications of The Wrong Shoes.
That’s okay though. Because some day you’ll leave school and then everything will fall into place.
Except of course, that it doesn’t. At least, not for me. You look grown-up on the outside, but inside you’re still thirteen.
It’s just a little party. Nothing to get stressed about. Deep breath and think happy thoughts; that’s it, enter the room, grab a drink and then say hello. How hard can this be..?
Oh my goodness. It’s worse than I expected. I know nobody. They’re all having a brilliant time and then I came and now they’re looking and I knew this was the wrong skirt, it’s like primary four all over again with those stupid dungarees except this time I can’t blame my mum. Have I seen her somewhere before? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter, you can’t stand here all night like a lemon. Say hello. Say it, say it.
No, not the squeaky voice, try being normal. And don’t do the laugh – ah, too late.
What to say…nothing to say I’m boring her already. Talk about the weather it’s bound to be raining good for my tomato plants maybe we’ll have an Indian Summer what is an indian summer oh my goodness I’m talking nonsense why is she staring at me have I something in my teeth? Yes thanks I’ll have a sausage stop myself talking except wait that’s not a sausage it’s a chilli and now I’m choking does anyone know heimlich I should never have come
Friendship. It’s a minefield. Because sometimes it feels like such an effort.
Putting on masks, hiding who I am and acting like I think I should.
For a long time I thought I’d only have friends if I could help other people. If I acted like I had it together and hid all my mess. If I didn’t reveal too much or ask anything in return.
But that’s not friendship at all, is it? That’s a performance.
I thank God that there are people in my life who don’t settle for this front. People who share themselves even when it’s messy. Who laugh when I tell them I’ve hoovered the oven. Who take me as I am and say that’s okay. We love you. And we see in you the possibilities you won’t ever see in yourself.
I thank God for my friends. It’s not an easy job.