So… how do you make friends again?

Lara Jones

Childhood was the gateway to friendship; it was lined with paved roads that led you to people who had similar surface-level interests to you. You didn’t need to have the same political views or even the same tastes in style, all you needed were vaguely similar interests and you would be stuck like glue until the very end of high school. But once the graduation caps are put into storage and left to collect the dust of passing years, cars are packed with old mementos of your youthful age, goodbyes are said tears are cried and the friends that have been a main feature in the portrait of your life have been reduced to a footnote. Where does that leave you? 

Making friends as an adult feels more like an unpaved dirt road with roots sticking up across the path. Nothing feels comfortable or familiar, and no one ever tells you how hard it will be.

It’s strange how almost every TV show on Earth jokes about the struggles of making adult friendships. But that’s all it is: a joke. There isn’t any seriousness, no dive into the fears of what this loneliness means for a person. It serves as a mirror of one’s self. It’s like looking upon yourself through a thousand microscopes and only seeing the most minute details, because if I can’t make friends now, will I ever? The clock in my mind is ticking unstated by the fear that swirls in my head, its minutes holding the thoughts from exiting my psychic and relinquishing myself to a journey spent alone.

Maybe for some making friends is as easy as walking into a room and introducing yourself. A person with a magnetic personality has the ability to click into any mold presented to themselves, it’s a gift that few possess and enviable to many. For those who don’t present this magic ability to make friends as an adult, it feels like speaking a language you haven’t yet learned the basics of. It’s strange in a way: you’ve made friends before, how did it work then? Were you just stuck together because life saw it that way, because high school always becomes easier when you don’t have to stand alone, or was life simply just easier then?

Before I came to college my biggest fear was not being able to meet and make friends, and I always got the same response when I voiced these concerns: “Just don’t worry about it, people will love you, you’ll find friends on the first day don’t worry.” When the first day arrived I was eager to find people to spend my time with, giving myself false confidence as a way to appear approachable and likable. The moment that classes began I felt as though I had missed my moment; people around me were pairing off. I had decided a few times to maybe join others at lunch sporadically but the fear of what they would say after I left kept me from making true to this promise.

After a few weeks, I deemed that perhaps it was just that making friends was hard for everyone. I reached out to others, people from my past that I was desperate to cling close to, and asked about their process. To my sadness, they had all found like-minded people easily. Why was it that everyone in the world was able to move past the anxieties of beginning friendships? Was it me? Did I come off peculiarly? Was my overeagerness to be noticed by anyone obvious and pushed anyone away from wanting to associate with me? I gave up hope not long after allowing my time to be spent alone instead.

Here’s where the truth comes in. Being alone will never quite be as great as surrounding yourself with those that make you happy. Adulthood doesn’t need to be lonely. The second that you stop trying to reach out and make connections is the moment you relinquish yourself to an isolated fate. No, it won’t happen in a week but that doesn’t mean that it never will. 

Yes, the road seems treacherous and rocky with its unpaved uneasiness. Past that rough terrain is a road that might not be as pretty and smoothly rolling as the day of your youth, but it still leads to the joy that can only be achieved through the gift of the company of others. Get involved, join random clubs, and follow your instincts. Escape the bubble of your lonely world and follow the road to a beginning.

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