Office Dynamics: being forced by circumstance to be friends with people that don’t even use Instagram. If you do – or have ever – made a living from spending your 9-5 in the traditional workplace, you’ll know that work friendships aren’t quite the same as your 13 year relationship with your bestie. You’ve all come from different directions and been thrown into the pit of hell, and you get on because a) life would be so much more stressful if you didn’t, and b) you all drink from a communal cup of misery that is 3pm on a rainy weekday. I’m actually very lucky in the sense that my office team is pretty small, and I like the people I work with as human beans, not just as fellow marketing bods. Even with that in mind we’re hardly rushing to book weekend getaways together – liking each other just means we can enjoy each other’s disastrous dating stories without having to feign interest to the point of bursting a blood vessel.
When your self-employed, your working environment is obviously very different. You’re either working from home/working from a coffee-shop/working from the back of an Uber whilst you promise your mates you’re literally five minutes away; there isn’t the same conventional set up, and so forging friendships within the same industry happens a little differently. For starters, every single one of my friendships blossomed from the blessed seed of the internet. Since we all operate within the digital world, we connect online first, trialing the friendship through a series of tweets and Instagram comments, trying to gage how well our personalities align and if we’d been able to talk freely about the gross things that we don’t share in our posts. Inevitably this comes to the “omg, coffee soon?!” suggestions (I am so, so guilty of this cliche) or accidentally on purpose bumping into each other at the same event, and BAM – you’re at second base.
I think there’s a common misconception about the blogging industry that everything has to be sugar sweet, heartfelt and almost, to some degree, naive. In any other industry it’s entirely normal to have friends who are your friends simply because you do the same thing. In blogging, it seems that you must be genuine 100% best mates or you’re not being honest, and you’re filtering your life for the sake of a good Instagram picture. The truth is, a lot of us are mates because it’s cathartic and mutually comforting to have someone to share our experiences of the industry with, but that’s as far as it goes. We’ll post a casj cool selfie together at the latest coffee spot, but we’ll spend the whole time talking about work and not much more.
And there’s nothing wrong with this. You can’t be best mates with everybody you meet. You can care about someone and enjoy their company without drawing up a strict rota for regular hang-outs and declaring how close you are in every other blog post. There are lots of women in the industry who I’ve met and admire, and when we see each other we double-kiss and occasionally we’ll have a catch up over WhatsApp, but that’s as far as it goes. That doesn’t mean the friendship is fake, it just means that we’re both normal people, building work relationships and maintaining our out-of-work friendships alongside it.
I would say out of the many bloggers/influencers I’ve come across over the past few years, 2/3 of those have developed into genuine, “real life” friendships. We’ve bonded over our shared careers, but we’ve also shared intimate family histories, personal hang-ups and relationship woes together. We often get sick of talking about blogging, and end up talking about the weird things are bodies are doing or planning guilty pizza weekends together. The thought of sleeping together in the same bed is no longer gross, which, surely, is the true measure of a friendship.
But this doesn’t mean that every.single.friendship has to be the same way. For those who are blogging with the view of making it their sole career – or for those that have already made the leap into full-time – it’s simply not sustainable to be this close to everybody that we come across. And also, a lot of the time we might not like people enough to want to be that close. We’re all human beans with habits and hang-ups and histories, and just as with any other bod on the street, sometimes we just don’t get on. You can still admire someone’s success or someone’s work without wanting to embark on a two-week safari holiday with them, just as you can also not be into someone’s style and like them very much as a person (which is why it’s okay to unfollow people on Insta/Twitter without it being a personal insult).
Blogging is a business. As with any business, you can’t always like the people you work with, and you certainly don’t have to. You can have surface relationships without being fake, and you can also build deeper, meaningful friendships from a shared, common ground. As always, this blog post comes back to my core life philosophy of the moment: just do you, and don’t worry about anybody else. If you want to be mates with someone, then great, and if you don’t, hey, that’s great too. Blogging is often made out to be a shady, back-stabby industry (unsurprisingly so because it’s dominated by women, but hey, let’s leave those sexist misrepresentations for a later date), but it really isn’t. Be honest with yourself, avoid moany, passive aggressive Twitter chats and you’ll be surprised at how wonderful it can be, both in a personal and a business sense.