My opinion of my own social life varies wildly, depending on my mood.
If I've woken up on the wrong side of the bed, I'll view it through a decidedly pessimistic lens. Have you ever seen Jumanji? Sometimes I feel like the little fat rhino that can't quite keep up with the rest of the stampede. I wonder why the majority of the people I grew up with aren't around anymore, why my weekends aren't always non-stop binges and why a night in front of the TV sounds so very enticing. I look back longingly to the times I'd be out so late the bus service will have stopped and started again by the time I want to go home. I miss the thrill of new experiences; like the dread that fills your being as you try to buy alcohol even though you're clearly not old enough and don't have any ID. Or the euphoria as a whole club shouts in excitement as the song that's been on everybody's car radio, CD player and iPod starts to play. The feeling that tomorrow doesn't matter, and that work with a hangover is better than a life with no friends.
That's how I spent my early twenties - as do a lot of us, I suppose. Surrounded by friends, friends of friends, vague acquaintances, 'I-know-your-face-but-not-your-name-but-let's-get-drunk-togethers'. When I am in a mood, I'll dig up hazy memories of drinking games and disgusting excess and long for a return to those carefree days, those carefree friends. I won't recall the disgusting hangovers, the huge embarrassments, the falls down stairs, the regret.
Needless to say, my social life has changed considerably as my life has moved on. Where we could once fill half a pub, there will now be three of us sitting in the corner, nursing pints rather than knocking back shots. [That sort of thing is only respectable at weekends now; never on a school night.] The people who were part of that group have either moved, or drifted, away. My friends from university are dotted all over the country, and my friends from Italy are dotted all over the world. I often listen with envy when I hear colleagues discussing nights out with a close-knit group they have been part of since they were young, because I don't have that.
I do have a lot of weird and wonderful people that I'm lucky enough to call friends, but there is rarely any link between them. One I worked with in Southend, two I worked with in London. One I met in Italy, another at school and so on. They've never met and probably never will. [Without sounding ungrateful, I have to say that this is a considerable drain on my bank account. In order to give them the time they deserve, I need to dedicate separate nights out to each one on a regular basis. What I'd give to be able to kill several birds with one stone.]
When I'm hit with that occasional good mood though, I'm grateful for this situation. I feel like the sun in the middle of my own little solar system, at the centre of a complex web of friendship that spans the globe and, more importantly, has been years in the making and stood the test of time. I may no longer be a reckless, all-singing, all-dancing, all-drinking party animal surrounded by a pack of like-minded teenage drinking machines, but the fact that I can now go for a drink with someone with whom I share a history is something I should appreciate more. My social life is not a quiet one - it's no less rich than it was, but it's a lot more meaningful now. I'm pleased that I survived the hectic social life I once led, and I'm pleased that it's left me with some fantastic memories, and some fantastic friends.
Is it any wonder my friends moved away?