Thursday, October 27, 2016

How to make friends as an adult (the Shayna edition): Why is it so hard?

Making friends as an adult is hard. Not hard like I'm living paycheck to paycheck and my house is haunted by knife Hobbits, but more like I have more freedom and money than I ever could have imagined and that freedom is constricting in its own right. It's counterintuitive, right? One would assume that with infinite choices comes infinite friends. Making friends growing up through college was easy right? How the fuck did you even do that? At what point can you say...this person is my friend? Unlike success, it's really difficult to connect the dots going backwards with friendship. When you visualize a person you care for, the feelings you have form the idea 'well....I've always loved person X, right?' Wrong motherfucker. This brings me to my first points on why making friends is hard post college.

1. In school, you were forced into social situations didn't care for
People bond over difficult situations and common scenarios. If we didn't, why would companies bother sponsoring escape from a zombie room events with new employees? Fuck that noise, i wanna play video games. The stress of having to solve a problem collectively brings people together whether or not they want to.

What is growing up if not a difficult situation? The constant exposure to learning makes people bond over studying together, making fun of teachers, or generally getting into trouble (my marching band group had an annual tradition of stealing as much shit from a Wendy's as possible in a blitzkrieg of puberty and snorting).  This is what forms the initial bonds. The reason so few bonds stick post education is that you really have nothing in common with these people. You were just in the same shit at the same point in time.

The fact is that no one is forcing you to spend time with anyone after college. Everything is based off of your own choices. But it's not that simple. If it were, you could choose a random meetup and meet your new group. This almost never, ever happens. Which brings me to my next point...

2. Part of growing up is realizing that life can be a series of closing doors
In high school, I was a part of concert band, marching band, jazz band, chorus, drama, wrestling, the Sci Fi club, and debate club. I had a part time job my sophomore year to senior year where I worked anywhere from 10 to 30 hrs a week. I also studied my ass off and ended up in the top 3rd of my class in an incredibly competitive school. I also jacked off to fuzzy porn at least 75% of my waking life, but I consider that off the clock.

Just looking at this list makes me sick to my stomach. Who the fuck has time for this? How did I do this, date, and get into trouble?

When you are growing up, the amount of energy you can spread out is insane. I never thought twice about how encompassing this list was. I also never really felt like I was overloaded.

College was a similar situation. I picked up two choruses, drama (it didn't work out), breakdancing, partying my balls off, a fraternity, caving, and film making. The list grew a little shorter and I didn't even notice.

Now a days I have what...powerlifting, cosplay, partying my balls off, and dancing to live music. I still jack off to porn, but it's in HD. Cause I'm a grown ass man that lives in the future that's why.
As I got older, I naturally gravitated towards becoming passionate about a few things instead of being interested in everything. This happens naturally whether you're noticing it or not. There are outliers who don't experience a drop in their ability to care. These people are assholes.

The same phenomenon happens to friendships. The ones that are important expand. The ones that are not contract. The people you meet as an adult are in full on contract mode. While everyone is looking for new people to trust and love, everyone simultaneously states how hard it is to make friends. Da fuck people? There is generally no room to accept new people into your life unless they already fit into your passions. Other people can be laterally grandfathered in (more on this later), but these people are usually extensions of the friend group you network into.

I've learned this the hard way a few times in my life, which leads me to my final point...

3. Everyone can like you, few people will love you
This entire segment can be summed up in the phrase 'you can't force people to let you in.' I can think of two (2) notable anecdotes for this.

I volunteered at a popular improv theater in Atlanta for 5 years. I did not make a single friend in that time. Everyone knew me, everyone was friendly with me, and I genuinely had a good time there. Yet while their click was considered a family, I was only a visitor. I never got to know any of them on a deeper level (and vice versa), no matter how much I tried.

In another instance I tried getting into crossfit (a few times actually). Here is an activity that lines up completely with my own desires (to become jacked and tan), but my main goal was to meet new friends. Social media is ripe with people who have gotten into crossfit and base their free time entirely around it. The same thing happened there that happened that the theater. No one wanted anything to do with me. I was well liked, everyone was friendly, but that is where the buck stops.

This is important, so I'm going to revisit this later on (future posts). For now, I will only pose that the common thread between these anecdotes is the fact that the activities in themselves were not struggles on a collective basis. Everyone who was there was there for themselves, myself included.

In the next installment, I'm going to review less of the 'why' and more of the 'how' on making friends.

Till next time.

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