Friends Before Dividends
Written By sami ross
Design By hannah smith
I'll be damned if adult friendships don't feel as elusive as tickets to a Sigur Ros show. Oh to be 22 years old when platonic love sprung up like dandelions everywhere from the beer line at Pitchfork to the register at your part-time retail job ( You smoke weed? Me too!)
Somewhere down the line, friendship became less of a gooey love affair and more of a calculated business relationship. Lines drawn. Allies made. There are a million ways to “like” someone without really liking them at all. You start to wonder more and more, was I invited to this party as a guest or as a body?
Creative friendships are even more tangled. Teenagers and whip-smart old ladies would never be caught dead practicing cheesy faux-doration, but within the creative industry love, networking and empowerment fuse together to create something both reliable yet utterly unstable- and us twenty-somethings buy right into it.
It's friendship tainted by the “you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours” ideology. When creatives connect they have everything to gain. A better gig, more exposure, and yes, I'll say it: a better reputation [insert cheeky fashion-feminism jab here.]
Sounds harmless right? Of course it does when you're conditioned from birth to network. However, when the lines between career and friendship blur, that's when those icky gut feelings start creeping in. To my fellow writers: How many times has an industry friend told you that they love your work? They'll congratulate you with the appropriate amount of emojis, maybe even publicly support you on social media- however- have they read your piece? Have they actually clicked the little link and spent ten minutes of their day pouring over those words you so carefully crafted? Or is the praise just for show? What's the end game? Does it even matter?
I probably sound like a total asshole. Blame the media or something. A few months ago, I was ready to give up on sincerity all together. It felt like a luxury I had long since lost access to. Then, something #magical happened.
I opened my email to find a subject line touting “Woman to woman, writer to writer.” I automatically assumed that this was a networking email from an old college acquaintance trying to find a job at my agency (please see asshole title above). I lazily clicked on the email, preparing to skim to the section asking me to look at her book. Plot twist: She wasn't asking for a job. She was asking for friendship.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I almost started weeping as I read this gracefully written letter that asked for nothing more than creative female friendship. She had no hidden agenda, no sneakily worded favors, just love and open-mindedness– a true flashback to those pure, unadulterated friendships of yesteryear. She had read some of my work and just wanted to have another like-minded soul in her life. I didn't realize how much I needed this type of relationship until it happened.
This interaction inspired me to change course. Vulnerability is a precious quality. I'm challenging myself to reach out to creative women who move me, regardless of what they can offer me. Because, frankly, when I take a step back and look at my little world, I see that I want for nothing.