7 Struggles You Face When You Have More Than One Group Of Friends

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Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the last decade has watched the iconic scene in Mean Girls where Janis and Damian lead newcomer Cady through the cafeteria, pointing out where each of the school's cliques sits. And while 99% of the people in that movie were able to float over to a table without hesitation and know exactly where they belonged, I think a lot of us growing up always felt weird during this scene: We didn't belong at just one table. So many of us floated between friend groups, never specifically identifying ourselves with a particular type. In high school, I was every bit as committed to my cross country teammates as I was to being the dorkiest theater kid on the planet and all the friends I made in being that. And when I wasn't busy with that, I was doing Science Olympiad and working at a toy store and secretly writing fanfiction with an online community of fellow nerds I'd never met. As a result, I never hung out with the same people any two days in a row—and I was fully, lovingly devoted to all of them.

What was nice about growing up this way is that I never once felt like I was devoid of friendships. I tended to follow my passions wherever they took me more than I followed the friends I already had, so I ended up making new friends all of the time, and finding people who were genuinely excited about the same things I was. Every part of that was awesome and rewarding.

Of course, once you hit adulthood, it becomes a little harder to make friends, and being able to fan out into your different groups is a godsend. But that doesn't mean that juggling it all doesn't occasionally get out of hand. Anyone who has ever drifted back and forth between friend groups knows these struggles all too well:

1. Birthdays are always an awkwardpalooza of introductions

There is almost no crossover, for instance, between my community theater friends, my school chums, and my co-workers. It's gotten to the point where I have pretty much stopped having birthday shindigs because if you invite one person from a friend group, you have to invite them all, and suddenly a cozy little get together accidentally becomes the world's most awkward room full of strangers hanging out in different corners of the room. My future wedding is already doomed (open bar to the rescue!).

2. You genuinely don't understand when people from your different friend groups don't get along

Logically, you think that your love of Person A and Person B would just turn into a very satisfyingly equilateral triangle of love for all three of you, but that's rarely the case. Occasionally, magic does happen, and you feel like a mighty social puppet master, creating friendships out of thin air—but that doesn't happen always. Sometimes when you introduce a friend from one part of your life to a friend from a different part of your life, you can just tell right off the bat that they aren't feeling it, and then you feel the need to overcompensate by bridging the gap between them for the most uncomfortable three to six hours of your life.

3. None of the advice you get from friends ever syncs up coherently

Whenever you have a major life decision to make, it is totally natural to go ask your friends for help. But when it is coming from so many different people who are often completely different, you end up getting conflicting advice and you possibly walk away even more confused now than you were when you started.

4. You're constantly "making up" for missing events

There is always something going on, especially on the weekends, and especially during the holidays. No matter where you end up going, you'll miss something from another group of friends, and everyone will probably comment on it the next time you see them. As a result, you're in a constant state of apology with everyone.

5. ...that is, when you're not accidentally getting left out

The consequence of flitting in, out and around different groups is that you sometimes don't "belong" to any of them enough that they remember you every time they're all getting together. Womp.

6. You start to feel like there are six versions of yourself

I am always my most genuine self with my friends, but depending on the friend group, I am also that "genuine self" might look super different. It's not like something fundamental in me changes, it's just that each friend group brings out a different side of me. It's like Lily and the college friend who visits her on How I Met Your Mother: They revert to their old selves as soon as they met back up as adults, even though neither is anything like that in their lives away from each other. It's actually kind of awesome—instead of having just one set of friends who all expect me to play a certain role within the group, I get to move around, getting to fully explore and embody all the many parts of myself. Having multiple friend groups means getting to be an infinitely more complete, well-rounded, authentic version of myself. And as seamless as this all is, I occasionally wonder if I have a "default" self (aside from sitting on the couch and watching Netflix, but that's pretty much everyone's default).

7. You'll never quite have that awesome, all-encompassing feeling of knowing you "belong" somewhere

That isn't to say I've ever felt like I don't belong in one of my groups of friends, or that anybody ever made me feel that way. I think I would still prefer having a whole lot of friends in different places than just belonging to one group, because that has been a huge factor in shaping my different perspectives on the world. But that doesn't mean that occasionally it wouldn't be nice to just have the complete simplicity and safety of knowing one particular group of friends where you unquestionably belong.

Images: Disney; Giphy (6)