"I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them," Mark Twain once quipped. How right he was. Travel can make or break a friendship, so before you journey to the other side of the globe, only to realise that your best mate is your polar opposite...
Can men and women ever be just friends? I wondered this out loud on Saturday night as I was sitting down to dinner with a girlfriend. "No" she told me, matter of factly. "No?" I asked. I was a little crushed. I love men as friends. In fact, sometimes I prefer their company over women's. They generally think from a logical place rather than an emotional one, and they are often the voice of reason.
So, we may be single, in our 30's & with no sign of marriage, babies or even a relationship on the horizon, but do you know what? No thanks. I'll take a friendly lick on the face & picking up poop over a one night stand & baggage. You can keep your awkward first date dinner for 2, I've got a platonic play date with a Dachshund.
So whenever this time of year rolls around and I'm getting reflective on what this year taught me, or what I can attempt to do better next year (as always: more exercise, less worry, more comfort-zone-exiting, less overanalysing) - I notice the random highlights that stick with me, the moments which remind me of the obvious 'lessons' I want to hold onto going forwards.
I can't tell you if this will change me fundamentally for ever and ever as a person or whether it will just open my eyes a bit more to peoples' humanity and reduce my own insecure need to 'not put myself out there' for fear of rejection, but I have noticed that I've made a lot more friends in the past couple of weeks.
No man is an island. All of us need to ensure that we have a good diversity of friendships in our lives, it is essential to our mental health. In order to promote this we need to change the negative, hardening messages our boys receive from an early age. 'Be strong, boys don't cry, tough it out, don't show pain, be brave my little soldier, man up, you wuss!'