First you saw the event – ‘near you’, not ‘invited to’ – on Facebook. Then you overheard those people you thought were your mates, discussing what they were going to wear and who might get with who. You hold out hope for an invite: none comes and then finally, to add insult to the indignity, someone asks you if you’ve been invited to so-and-so’s party.

No, you say, you haven’t. Cue awkward silence.

Maybe it’s a mistake. Maybe they simply forgot to invite you. It’s easy enough to do, particularly on Facebook. But if you want my advice, it would be not to go down this particular route. If it is a mistake, that will probably at some point emerge and either be sorted out, or apologised for. But if it’s not, you’ll only open yourself up to further misery if you force the issue only to find out so-and-so has definitely, actively not invited you.

What do you do then? Well for one thing you should make alternative plans – and no, these should not be ‘lying in bed feeling sorry for yourself’. My dad, bless his heart, has the emotional grasp of a park bench, but when Emily Richards missed me off her invite list, even he sensed the pain I was going through (the closed bedroom door and muffled sobs gave the game away) and knew I needed something to do.

I’ve loved the Nutcracker for as long as I can remember. There was a showing that evening, and a table for two at Italian restaurant ASK. He and I rarely hung out one-on-one – we’re a big family – but that evening, we were a duo. The sheer novelty of that, the anticipation of my beloved penne al pollo della casa, and the spellbinding thrill of the Sugar Plum Fairy blew all thoughts of Emily Richards out of the water. There have been, there will be, many other parties. That evening with my dad was one I’ll never forget. 

So that’s one idea. I don’t necessarily mean the ballet and the penne al pollo della casa (the calzone is also excellent, btw) – I mean the principle of spending time with a relative you don’t often spend time with. It could be your brother, mum, cousin or aunt. It could be a whole gang of you. When was the last time you cooked for your family, or rallied them into some board games? It might not sound as cool and bantz-filled as the Richards’ place, but trust me: investing in family time will yield far greater return than investing in schoolmates who haven’t invited you to their Christmas do.

My third tip – in case the prospect of time with the fam jam fills you with total horror – is to find who else hasn’t been invited and make them your friend for the night. There are three advantages to this strategy: you’ll be socialising, you can commiserate with each other (though make this brief, it does not do to dwell) on the lack of invite, and you may, by the end of the evening, have made a new or a closer friend. I did this only the other week, in fact, with a girl I don’t see that much, and not only did we make ourselves feel better but we even found ourselves laughing at the self-importance of the man – ok, boy – holding this apparently exclusive party just up the road. 

Because that’s the other thing you need to think about when your invite doesn’t arrive: what kind of friend leaves you out of a party without explanation?

There are some excuses – restrictions on space, parental rules, catering – but if one hasn’t been offered, then that person is just not a friend. You don’t need them in your life, making you feel inferior to the rest of the world. And FYI, while it might feel like the rest of the world has been invited, they haven’t. This is just a handful of people who on one evening partied without you. In universal terms, this is space dust. There’ll be many, many more Christmas parties during the course of your lifetime, and the chances are most of them will be infinitely better than Emily Richards’ will be. The Christmas party doesn’t exist: for better or for worse, Christmas comes every year.

So hang on in there. Your lack of invitation doesn’t make you a lesser person: it’s not what happens to us in life, but how we respond it it that defines us. That’s why Emma and I ate a whole Waitress cheesecake, each, that afternoon.

Months later, I found out why I’d not been invited to Emily Richards’ party: she told me she was worried the guy she liked would fancy me instead. False flattery? Probs, but I’ll take it anyway. Often, exclusivity says more about the insecurities of the host than it does about you.

@finney_clare

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The first day of high school, I came home and cried. Not a little bit of blink and you’ll miss it eye leakage, but the sobbing, can’t breathe, wonder if you’ll ever be able to stop sort of crying.

I loved my primary school. I had a close group of friends who were my entire world. But we were split up and spread out like confetti across a few different schools in the area.

The school I joined had a primary school, so half of the year already knew each other. They eyed us newbies with the sort of scepticism I’m 100% sure I would have done if I was in their position. Would we ‘steal’ their friends? Would we be smarter than them? Would we mess up the social hierarchy that they’d carefully established since they were five?

The answer to all of those questions was unanimous: yes, yes, we would.

I didn’t make a single friend that first day, aside from with the year 10 girl who was assigned to mentor me and fourteen other girls, and as I explained to my concerned mother, she didn’t really count because the school had told her to be nice to us.

The thing is, I didn’t really know how to make friends. Most of my existing friendships had been formed in the sandpit, when my definition of a friend was a person who would share their sandwich with you when you left your lunch at home.

(Side note, this is still probably the most accurate definition of friendship I’ve ever had).

I did find friends eventually; the will-answer-their-phone-in-middle-of-the-night, will-cancel-a-date-with-their-crush-of-five-years-if-you-need-them, will-tell-you-if-your-dress-is-too-tight-(but in a gentle way) sort of friends.

Here are my tips for making the forever-til-the-day-I-die sort of friends:

1. Be yourself. I know, I know. This sounds like the sort of trope your granny trots out whenever you make the mistake of confiding in her, but in all honesty, she has a point. If you pretend to be someone else to make people like you, you’ll end up being friends with people you don’t really have all that much in common with. It might take a bit longer to find your people, but trust me, they’re out there somewhere.

2. Making new friends is hard. There is literally no exception to this rule. Everyone worries if they’re talking too much. Or if they’re being too clingy. Or that if your friendship group was to hold a spin-off of The X Factor, where someone had to be voted out, you would be the one sent home. You’re not alone. Everyone around you feels like this too. Hang in there.

3. Be nice. In my experience, girls often do this thing where they bond by bitching about other girls. The enemy of your enemy is your friend etc. It’s all very Animal Planet and completely unnecessary. I know it’s tempting, but try and resist the urge to take this shortcut, these friendships can sometimes turn toxic and become more trouble than they’re worth.

4. Find the girl who has the biggest smile. She will be your salvation through high school. She’ll teach you the rules to sports, which will come in handy when you try and flirt with boys a few years later. She’ll stay on the phone and patiently explain the answers to your maths homework. And you’ll get the chance to be a good friend back; you’ll be the person she texts when she gets her first period and you’ll duck out of class take your jumper to the bathroom stall so she can tie it around her waist.

5. If you get really stuck for an opener, come up with a quirky fact about yourself. I learnt this tactic off a friend of mine who stuck her hand out when she met me and said, “Hi, I’m Alana, and I’m ambi-dexterous,” which is pretty much the best opening line in the history of the world.

I promise you’ll find your tribe, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now. The people who laugh at all your jokes and will help you when you’re struggling with a particularly nasty geography assignment. They’re out there, and they’re looking for you too.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Emma Block