Thursday, August 8, 2013
How To Make Friends In Your Thirties
When I dropped Kai off in daycare the other day, one of his little classmates ran over to greet him and asked: "Do you want to be my friend today?" We hear this sentence a lot lately. Everything from toys to humans makes friends over and over. It's very simple and goes like this - a question is asked about whether the object of affection would consider friendship and then the object happily agrees. Alternatively, it is just announced that two planes/cars/animals ("aminals" per Kai) are now friends.
I am 33 and have moved quite a lot in the last 15 years. Moving a lot is an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Moving a lot is a misery of leaving your loved ones and your old friends behind. It was never easy for me to start from scratch, and it still is not. I think somewhere along the way I started to think that there is no point in trying too hard, because soon enough I will be leaving anyways.
Making friends gets harder and harder as I get older. I am not sure why. I am less shy and more confident as I get older. I am comfortable with myself. I don't feel the urge to be popular or the dread of not fitting in. Based on that making new friends should be easier. So maybe it's the lack of opportunities. I am a stay at home Mom. The amount of social activities I participate in is far from impressive, especially comparing to my pre-kids life, and even those few I manage to attend are constantly interrupted by the forementioned kids. Many invitations were turned down on the account of kids or pregnancy. But is that the real reason or just an excuse?
Making new friends takes time and effort. It's simple - you meet a person and the clock starts ticking. Your new friend will not be the friend of 10 years until 10 years later, and they will never be your childhood friends. Unless you invest time and effort, you will not get to know them and you will not give the friendship a chance to become that comfortable zone in which you pick up a phone at midnight to tell them your day sucked or just swing by their house without a notice for a cup of coffee. I have friends like that, so I know it's possible. However, most of them happen to live in a different time zone, if not on a different continent. That makes coffee visits difficult.
Maybe it is that the older we get the less we appreciate spontaneity and we feel it is necessary to first ask via text message if it is OK to call, then call to schedule an appointment to get together, then confirm shortly before and then send a thank you note right after. We are adult and formal, which makes the road to friendship so damn difficult. Maybe we expect too much and are too narrow minded and particular as we age - you voted for which party, you believe in what deity, you wore those shoes for a job interview, you fed that to your child?? Let's not even bother.
I am a shy extrovert, which means that I love people, I love conversations, I love company, but I fear making those first steps. I doubt that people I just met need me in their lives. I assume by now (we are in our thirties, after all), most of them have their circle established and newcomers, even though not unwelcome, are not necessary.
I have met new people in the last 3 years here in our last place of residence. I think some of them could become my close friends, the kind I made in the past and left behind, at least geographically. But that means I have to make an effort and ask people out. Even those who I believe are all set and happy the way they are. If I won't, I am going to keep missing out. I know I am missing out. I just wish it was as easy for me as it is for my son to walk over to a person of interest and say: "Hey, do you want to be my friend?"