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October 7, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Fixing Your Life (Because Ours Are Written Off)

Dear Hector and Janet,

I’m a bro, and a lot of the things I’ve been learning at university (both in classes and socially) have made me think about my bro-ness. I really enjoy hanging out with the lads, talking shit and just being myself, but then I talk to a lot of my new friends who really look down on people who do those things. How do I reconcile these two contradictory people that I’ve become? How do I let people know that I’m a bro? Will they still love me?

Love,

Papa Smurf

—–

I am not a bro. I was friends with some at one stage. I don’t want you to think that I’m saying this at the start to express disapproval at bro-dom. I just want to make it clear that I’m out of the bro-loop.

It’s important that you hang out with people that you enjoy hanging out with. It’s also important that you let others do the same. This isn’t your particular problem, though: your problem is internal conflict. Presumably, you enjoy hanging out with all types of people. That’s exciting. When I was 13 and being bullied, my parents ordered a book called Queen Bees and Wannabes that was meant to help parents deal with bitchy teenage girls. It was later adapted to be the script of Mean Girls. One of its many insights was, people who get along with lots of different groups are rare but special. You’re rare but special. (y).

Regarding reconciliation, I don’t think that your enjoyment of shooting the shit about sport rather than Syria with your fellow bros means that you really need to ‘reconcile’ anything. You just have to accept that you might not be the bro telling the most ruckus story about smashing some box in a public toilet so rigorously that your flat-cap falls off. Or whatever bros talk about. (I know this isn’t all that bros talk about.) If your bros say something that you don’t agree with, call them out on it. I don’t know, wouldn’t you do that with someone you disagree with regardless of whether or not they’re one of your bros?

If you’re a bro and your friends aren’t bros, of course they should still love you. They’re your friends. They’re just less likely to come to parties at your house.

Janet

——

Hi Papa Smurf,

Look, juggling more than one group of friends isn’t easy. It’s a pretty common issue for people moving away from home to university, and making a whole lot of new friends in the process. As you’ve alluded to, university is a time for learning new things and pushing your boundaries, while often your friends back home will go in a different direction entirely. Even within the University, it’s easy to get to know lots of diverse people, and sometimes that doesn’t settle neatly into one amorphous blob of joy and laughter. So don’t be too concerned about the bro-divide! It can happen with anything and anyone.

That said, the bro issue is one that has a couple of thorny issues. There’s a lot of resentment directed at bros, and a lot of it is pretty well justified. Some bros definitely do some rats shit. But if you’re still happy being friends with them, your bros are probably not those bros, and if they are then maybe you should think about that.

The thing you should be worrying about isn’t your friends, though. At the end of the day what’s going to keep you happy is making sure that you stay true to yourself. Don’t get caught up in the bullshit if it’s making you feel guilty or uncomfortable, and don’t do that thing where you put on a whole persona depending on who you’re hanging out with. I know it’s really tempting, but in the end you’ll be much happier if you can just act normal.

Be honest about the things you enjoy, and if your new friends can’t accept you in all your piss-sinking, footy-watching, yarn-having glory, then they probably aren’t great friends to begin with. Intolerance is an ugly colour on anyone!

As for the bros, don’t be afraid to call them out when they’re full of it. “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, and all that. Just don’t lecture them from on high; that’s not friendship, and won’t make anyone’s day any better.

I mean, all your friends don’t even have to meet until your 21st, and even then they’ll probably just hang out on either side of the room until everyone’s really drunk and making out with each other. Alcohol and sex drive remain the eternal equalisers, after all.

Yours penultimately,

Hector

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