I’ve always been more of a long-term relationship person. Not just romantically, but in my female friendships as well, with some of them spanning over 15 years, even though they are often quite different to me. Some of my closest friends have hugely contrasting interests, hobbies and careers, as well as paths in life, but I think this is very much part of what’s made our friendship endure over the years. We expand each others’ horizons, encourage each others’ growth, but at the same time, we keep each other grounded.
I think the key to that kind of long-term friendship is trust. It’s knowing that you can pick up where you left off. It’s understanding that even when you don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, you have a foundation that allows you to talk through anything. It’s trusting that whether or not you speak every day, you are there for each other. You don’t need to be in each others’ lives on a daily basis to be supportive, and you don’t need to agree with every choice your friends make to still root for them. It’s all about providing a safe space for each other where you can communicate freely without fear of judgment.
A lot of people say that you should never live with your friends, and you should never go into business with them, but having both lived with and worked with good friends, I beg to differ. In fact, I’ve done both with one of my oldest friends, Dawn Olivieri. At first glance, you may never guess that we’re so close. We dress differently, have different lifestyles, and at times, have gone in very different directions in life. But putting those aside, we share the same outlook on life and hold the same values. And while every friendship will have its bumps in the road, the fundamental trust that we have each other’s back, no matter what, means we both know that we can work through anything together. Our inherent trust also means that we can create things together; our most recent projects being a series of documentaries focused on the Middle East.
On the other hand, some friendships aren’t meant to last forever. While I take my friendships seriously, sometimes people just aren’t able to grow together. Friendship breakups can be hurtful. They can even feel unfair. But at the end of the day, it’s so important to be thankful for and to wish well the friends we are not able to keep. I really do believe that every friend comes into our lives for a reason – whether it’s to support us in a time of need, to shift our perspective, or to teach us something about ourselves. It’s impossible to argue that in this day and age, where access to anyone is literally at our fingertips, the fundamental nature of relationships has not changed. Having removed Instagram from my phone for the past month has really made this clear for me. Before we had this level of access to people, you’d have to actively reach out to keep up-to-date. But nowadays, you can passively keep up with everything they do – what they ate, what parties they went to, who they’re hanging out with, where they are traveling – literally everything. Removing Instagram for a period of time really drove home which relationships are active friendships and which ones are more passive.
That’s not to say that passive friendships are a bad thing. There are times in our lives when we grow apart from people we love, or where we may not be able to keep up in person as much as we’d like. I know this first hand from when I moved to the Middle East and started, in many ways, a new life for myself. Keeping tabs on my friends back in the States via social media was immensely helpful when the world around me was completely changing. But having removed Instagram for the past three weeks has been a fascinating exercise in having to reach out to friends the old-fashioned way. It’s been interesting to see simultaneously how much and how little I have actually missed. Stepping away from instantly knowing every single thing has been a lesson in letting go. It has helped take back the value placed on what people are doing and recentre it on who they are.
From Harper's BAZAAR Arabia February 2020 Issue