As a kid I wasn't really sure how to make friends. I was an only child, and the few friends I had were the other kids that lived on the same cul de sac that I did. I made some friends throughout elementary school, but few of them were long term friends and almost all the close ones ended with some kind of falling out. Usually they were mad at me about something and I wasn't sure what, or they'd just decided they didn't want to be friends anymore (or their parents decided for them, in a couple cases) and that was that. I didn't (and still don't) think that I was a bad friend to them or really did anything warranting the end of friendship, but I do think I had a knack for picking the wrong people to be friends with. My childhood home was not one I would call typical or rich with good examples of normalcy and a healthy understanding of good interpersonal relationships. I was kind of on my own as far as determining how to be social.
Fast forward to Jr. High and High School. I still wasn't picking great friends. I got involved with a group of girls who were mostly harmless but I was definitely the odd one out. They didn't outright shun me but I was certainly the butt of many abrasive jokes. No one had modeled good friendships for me before so I just thought this is how people are. In my freshman year of high school my best friend from early childhood and my best friend from junior high became friends after I introduced them. They bonded and decided that I'd "changed" and that they needed to give me a run down of all the ways I'd messed up or not met whatever their expectations were for.. existing I guess. In hindsight, maybe this was bullying. It was mild bullying though. At any rate, it was then that I decided: fuck these fake ass bitches. I'd rather eat lunch alone than put up with this bullshit.
Coincidentally, another friend from junior high had nearly the same experience with her two best friends and we found each other. She was my first example of a real, good, decent friend. We had each other's backs. We didn't judge each other or make each other feel shitty about.. whatever style of extra wide shoelaces we wore or whatever the thing was back then. From then on my bar was raised. I knew I could be fine without frenemies because I was ok being alone. Finding another decent human being in a sea of shitty teenagers, though, that was refreshing. I was a maid of honor in her wedding to my cousin a couple years ago.
As an adult, I have found it much easier to find and keep good people in my life, and as a result of all those childhood assholes, I found it easy to prune my life of people who don't fit. I know how to be a good friend, I love helping people out and I am always willing to lend and ear and give honest feedback. I'd just encountered a lot of people who either didn't appreciate that or who took advantage of it. In recent years, I have succeeded in surrounding myself with a rather sizeable group of great ladies (and gents, but I'm focusing on girlfriends here) who aren't catty, have each others' backs, are similarly interested in bettering themselves and pursuing varied interests and who are very real and genuine. I collect good people.
My girlfriends (and some guy friends, to be fair) have totally rallied for me this last week or so. I'm lucky to have each of them in my corner and I'm excited for fun times ahead. Sundresses and wine and painted toenails are all in the forecast.