Let’s talk about making friends as adults. It is so freaking hard. I actually find myself re-making friends with the ones I’ve already got and then feeling super awkward and nervous for the encounter…that we both agreed to. Not only does it feel like we have to book a two hour happy hour six weeks in advance, but nine times out of ten one of us has to cancel when it gets closer to the date. If we actually do make it there, I am awkwardly hugging my friend of ten years and saying things like, “it’s so good to see you!”, “you look great!” like we haven’t talked or seen each other in five out of the ten. Why is it so hard to be spur of the moment and spontaneous these days? Everyone seems to be too busy when in actuality, it feels more like we just don’t want to make the effort anymore…and I guess that’s OK?
When we were in college, I felt like the majority of us had the same interests and we all wanted something similar in life. Each one of us wanted to pass our classes, keep a somewhat healthy existence by working out and eating lean cuisines, and make sure that the majority of our time was spent at bars, socializing and finding friends…very easily. I would wave at someone accidentally in a bar and the next day we would be Facebook friends, grabbing coffee and studying for a test together. Now, I feel like I have to court the person, running into them 3 or 4 times accidentally on purpose before asking them out on what feels like a date. And what if they are never available? Is that their way of telling me they aren’t interested? Or are they just as nervous and awkward as I am? Many of the people I meet have kids which opens up a huge opportunity to position our friendship as necessary for them. However, what if their kid is a devil? Or what if they don’t get along? Now, I’m forcing my kids friendship with someone they don’t like because I’m desperate for someone to drink wine with while talking about Real Housewives (I don’t watch the show but feeling like I should start as that seems to be what most people my age are talking about).
What I’ve realized is that having three or four close friends I can call up and invite over spur of the moment is what really matters. And if a lot of those friends happen to be family members, so be it. Life is too short to spend time worrying about whether or not someone will return the favor, or if they actually had a good time with me (which is an unfortunate side effect of anxiety). There will be these chance encounters where I hit it off with the other mom down the street who has a little guy William’s age, but I’ve learned not to force it and I think that’s how a lot of adults feel. We were putting so much pressure on ourselves to find friends when I’ve realized that I should focus on what matters to me most – spending time with the ones that I love and not worrying that the number of friends we have is getting smaller. I think we had this unrealistic expectation that moving back from Chicago would open an opportunity to see people we went to college with all the time, which it really didn’t. But we do see a lot more of family and the ones we are closest to and that’s what life is all about.