Well, not old as in they themselves are old. More, long-standing….
While I was at my mum and dad’s during our summer holiday I managed to meet up with three very long-standing friends who I’ve known for very many years. Two who I met while we were in reception (kindergarden) and one who I’ve known even longer, since playgroup when we were two!
I see one of my reception friends and my playgroup buddy every year or two, we’ve always stayed in touch but my other reception friend I hadn’t seen since she left school at 16 and even then we weren’t close at that point. However, somehow, we all picked up as though the end of primary school (in 1992) was just a few weeks ago. Whatever differences in life paths, tastes, choices, other friendships that we’d experienced were as though they’d never happened. I was the only one of the four who went off to university, but still at least two of the three know me as well as the friends I’ve had since. They probably know a more real “me” than people I met at university and since then – they knew the child who didn’t hide the parts of her she thought people wouldn’t like, who didn’t know how to pretend to be other than she was, who spoke thoughtlessly from the heart. Sitting and chatting with someone who knows the “real” you, underneath the layers of learned rules about what to not say or do, is hugely comforting and reassuring. It was utterly lovely in some ways.
But then, my friend I’d lost touch with said something about confidence or competency, and I realised she saw me, at least partly, through the same lens of self-representation that my colleagues and today’s friends (mostly) use. She had this perception that I’m successful and, I don’t know, better than I am. Imposter syndrome to the rescue, or something.
This is a bit of a rambling post, because I’m still not sure what to make of the whole thing.
Did I unconsciously talk myself up, boast, brag or try to prove that I’m some successful genius and thus accidentally make my old friend feel inadequate? Was she there, sitting thinking the exact same thing? Was my perception coloured by our friendship dynamic when we were ten – she was charismatic and mature, I always felt overshadowed by her, almost bullied but not quite, just “less than”. Did I attempt to present myself so that I broke that ancient feeling of inadequacy? I hope I didn’t, I hope she didn’t feel “less than” me.
Or am I building mountains out of mole hills?
Maybe turning 40 has affected me more than I thought.
Or maybe I’m just suffering from a spell of excessive introspection.