This is Charis*’ story, as told to Boluwatife

Image source: nappy via pexels

I’m an extrovert who doesn’t know how to keep friends. I know what you’re thinking: How’s that even possible? I don’t know either. All I know is I can walk into a room and vibe with everyone there, but it never goes past that. I’m terrible at keeping that “vibe” long enough to form an actual friendship.

I’ve always been like this. My social nature means I stand out among my mates, and people tend to flock to me, even during my secondary school days. But then, when they come around, I engage them for a while, lose interest and move to the next thing or person that catches my eye. 

In university, I just had acquaintances. We called each other friends but never talked about the important things. I couldn’t just call them in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, tell them how I was crushing on one guy, or share my worries about my mum’s health. And it wasn’t really their fault. I just didn’t know how to put my energy into being close to people like that. 

So when I got into my friend group in 2019, I couldn’t believe my luck. I met Rachael* during NYSC orientation at the Iseyin camp. She’d noticed I always got food in mammy market, walked up to me one day and went, “Are you related to Dangote?” I was still trying to understand the question when she laughed and explained why she said so. We became pretty close, and even when I started to withdraw, she’d come to my bed and talk to me. 

Just before the end of camp, my mum passed away, finally succumbing to her long-term heart issues, so I had to leave camp early and return home to Lagos. Rachael kept in touch and even came down to Lagos a week before the burial to be with me. That’s when I officially became part of her friend group. She got her three other friends to call to sympathise with me and made sure they also came for the burial. I hit it off with them, and before I knew it, they’d added me to their WhatsApp friend group


Our friendship has lasted almost four years now because they put a lot into ensuring we all communicate on WhatsApp and even go on the odd girls’ trip. But I feel like the odd one out. Rachael and our other friends have known each other since university. I can just open our WhatsApp chat now and find 30+ messages of them sharing inside jokes or talking about someone I’ve never heard of. 

They even like the same things. Anytime we plan a hangout, it’s almost always at someplace I don’t like because, by the time the others vote, I’m the only one with a different opinion. Let’s not even talk about how I’m a literal odd number. Before I joined, they were four in the group; I became number five. I sometimes feel like the third (or fifth) wheel, watching the others all perfectly paired up. They have this connection even outside our group activities, while the group is the primary thing I have in common with the four of them. It’s hard for me to just pick up the phone to call one of them and talk for hours. 

Don’t get me wrong, they’re nice people, but I sometimes feel like I’m outside the group looking in. A perfect example is how, during Moyin*’s — one of our friends — wedding in 2021, Rachael would casually mention on the bridesmaids group chat that she’d discussed with Dara* when she slept over at her place the previous night, and they thought we needed to reconsider one thing or the other about our outfits. Like, aren’t we all in the same group for that purpose? What are these separate conversations about?

Even their parents know each other. It’s not strange to hear that Moyin’s mum called Rachael on her birthday, or that Dara’s mum sent fish to Moyin. But just three months ago, I had to travel to Abuja for work. Moyin’s mum lives in Abuja, so the day before I travelled, I asked Moyin to tell her mum I’d like to stay over at their place. I was told the house was full and that their dad didn’t like impromptu visits. I understood, but I wondered, what if it was Dara who needed a place to stay? Wouldn’t they have found a way to help? I felt hurt, but I know Moyin would’ve helped if it was her house I needed to stay in.

I’ve never told them how I feel because I don’t want to cause unnecessary drama. I know I can do a long group call just to rant, but I think I have to come to terms with the fact that they’ll always be closer to each other than me. They have common experiences I may never be able to relate to, but I guess that’s okay. 

This is the closest I’ve ever gotten to real female friendships. I don’t have a best friend, but at least, I have people who look out for me, and that’s better than nothing.

*Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.

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