As I got older in life, I kept hearing this from different people “Why is it so difficult to make friends? it used to be so easy when we were younger/ in school/ in college” and it got me thinking, is this an ACTUAL thing? Does making friends get harder as we grow older? I definitely remember this being something I’ve touched upon before as well in another blog post, but that one focuses more about long distance friendship rather than the MAKING of friends.. So I decided to pay more attention the making bit in this blog post
Looking back on when I made most of my friends, (i.e. college and Post grad for me, with a smattering of some who have stood the test of time from school) I needed to take a look at the optimum… (or is it optimal?) conditions for making friends:
1. Being on the same wavelength for one – Liking the same music/ tv shows/ having similar political opinions/ interests/ sense of humor obviously helps .
2. Being in a position where you meet new people on a fairly regular basis – i.e. attending classes, traveling solo, moving cities, joining a new place for work etc.. I think I have found it easier to make new friends solely because the nature of my job entails that I meet and interact with new people 80% of the times that I have a shoot/ go to work.
3. Being out of my comfort zone is a feeling i would associate with moments of friend making – They’re usually when you’re forced to interact with people because you don’t have the safety of being surrounded by people you already know – I’ve mentioned earlier as well – any time a bunch of strangers are thrown together and forced to socialize with each other, it’s easier to make friends when everyone is on the same footing. After a certain point in life – you notice that everyone socializes in groups and it gets very difficult to break into those groups once they are formed.
4. Which then ultimately brings me to what i think is the KEY component to friendships – Both making them and maintaining them – TIME.
When we’re younger, say in college or school, we have a huge amount of time that we can devote to getting to know people once we’ve made that initial decision of “hey I like this person’s company and want to hang out with them more”. When I look back on my relation with my friends, I can say without a doubt that the ones I share the closest bonds with, are the ones who i have invested the most amount of time getting to know/ been there for and vice versa. Interestingly enough, the ones I have drifted apart from are the ones who you don’t invest enough time in, (given that you have it of course), and vice versa. I mean, if you’re a person looking to invest your money in something, you’re obviously going to go for something that works for you as well, not like some money blackhole that keeps eating up your resources and you get nothing out of.
HERE’S THE THING THOUGH. I realized as we get older, it’s super duper easy to sort of hang back and not put yourself out there in terms of making new friends, because, you have your circle of friends, it’s safe and honestly WHO EVEN HAS THE TIME right? You’d rather focus your free time on people who you know and love. Like, it’s bad enough that you have to endure awkward conversations/ evenings with a person of the opposite (or same) sex when you’re in your hunt for looking for a significant other, but why would you WANT to voluntarily put yourself through that to make NEW FRIENDS?!
But what if you’ve moved to a new city? or you sort of look around and notice that in the last few years of your life, peoples’ careers are getting hectic or they’ve all coupled up and have different social obligations? I mean, I can’t speak for anyone else, but as I’ve gotten older, there are obviously changes in the dynamics of your friendships/ friend groups – where people DON’T have time to simply catch up or meet as often as they used to, and that’s ok. It’s just how life pans out… and it’s OK, and in the process, you sort of find yourself at a loose end when it comes to social scenes. If you’re anything like me, that’s not such a big deal because you enjoy your own company and are happy in your little circle of few friends meeting up once a month to touch base as opposed to evenings of superficial conversations which don’t really go anywhere… but it’s always nice to have a group of like minded people you can hang with!
So what happens when you meet someone you find interesting or come across something that you would like to be a part of ? Is it ACTUALLY that difficult to make friends? I don’t really think so – once you find your kindred spirits, chances are, they’re going to want to hang out with you as much as you with them! It all pretty much amounts to, YOU taking the initiative and taking out the TIME – Time to meet them (preferably not in a situation where it’s just a tonne of noise and different groups of people staying in their own groups AKA PARTIES – though, those are great places to meet new fun people) – there are loads of times you might be like “Oh we should totally meet up” and then never get around to making a plan – or you make a plan and then one of you bails citing “work” or “ family scene” or “being crazy tired coz work was so hectic”. but if both parties actually follow though, it could end horribly, where you realize you have nothing in common and it’s probably not going to work out, or it could be the beginning of one of the best friendships of your life! In a lot of ways, hanging out with new people for the first time is a lot like going on a first date.
(SHOUTOUT TO ALL MY AMAZING CLOSE FRIENDS WHO HAVE HAD THE MISFORTUNE OF ME FORCING MY COMPANY ON YOU)