Sometimes we blame ourselves because of our lack of social skills. Sometimes it can be hard to let ourselves breathe when we’re used to being isolated as a result of busy lifestyles and interchanging schedules. It’s inevitable that we will no longer have the same excitement or eagerness to meet people the way we did in our youth or teenage years; more specifically high school and/or college. Making friends and maintaining connections with others is a crucial skill to have. Although, there are many factors as to why many struggle to perfect this so-called skill. In this article, I will be addressing a few of the reasons why it can be hard to make friends, and different methods you could use to try and overcome that.
As a young adult, we are still discovering things about ourselves. It becomes difficult to make friends during this stage because at this point in time we have already established a set routine. Once this routine comes into play, most people struggle to deviate from it—and though there is nothing wrong with that, it can hold some of us back. In addition, adults simply do not have the given benefits and opportunities to make friends because we watch our friends, and ourselves take different paths in life. It was easier back then because we were all at the same stage in life; lost and confused but at least we were not alone. As we grow older, I may be married with 3 kids running around the house. On the other hand, I could still have single friends who are living and having fun and the other could simply be a workaholic. There is beauty in all of these versions of a “happy and fulfilled life”. When we are younger, most of us attend classes in school, then college or university, and then supposedly begin a life after graduation. That’s where the difficulty begins; it is common for both men and women, around the age of 25 is when most of them start losing friends.
Whether you saw it coming, or not, or if the tarot cards hinted at it — we have all cut ties with people or drifted apart with someone we thought we would never lose. Therefore, no one would blame you if you find it’s scary to put yourself out there shortly after a friend breakup. It is common knowledge that friendships are important, but vulnerability is something most individuals try to avoid showing. A 2014 study found that the frequency of socialization is positively associated with life satisfaction. We often look to other people, our friends, for unbiased advice and support in the moments we do not know how to do it for ourselves. Thus, when we lose that “person” or that group of people we relied on, it hurts more because in my opinion, for the first few months it’ll feel uncomfortable trying to develop the same amount of trust in someone else. Our greatest friends can help block out anxiety, keep you positive and be your support system when you need it the most. When a support system collapses suddenly or slowly, it will still feel like the change in your life is not on your side, and that’s okay. Vulnerability is a big factor in discovering your needs and what you deserve in order to achieve that life satisfaction.
Nowadays, young adults are very keen on “being their own person” and “being an individual that doesn’t need anybody”. Yes, this is a generalization that may or may not be true, but I have seen it in quite a few people. It’s no secret that people are less “engaged” with the surrounding people. For example, their neighborhoods, charities, places of worship, or even politics. I’ll admit as a student, I still participate in this. Essentially, as much as I enjoy the company and having people around me I know deep down in myself that I wouldn’t necessarily need someone else to feel happy. But, I cannot deny that there’s less engagement in what used to be “public life”. The era of social media has skyrocketed in recent years, especially in the midst of the pandemic—but disengaging and isolating has been present for way longer. Although our friends, peers, or relatives seem as if they’re more “alive” on social media, people are more and more disengaged from anything that could make them “come together.”
Does it ever become easy?
I cannot answer this blatantly because I’m still figuring that out myself. However, here are a few of my favourite affirmations that make me feel stronger:
- I am mine before I am ever anyone else’s
- I don’t chase, I attract
- I am calm and centered
- I am working towards the best version of myself
I’m still young, but from what I’ve learned relationships, in general, require hard work. Whether they be romantic, or platonic. I’ve never struggled to make friends, but I did have difficulties with making them last. It’s hard to admit, but the truth is you can only stay friends with someone who shares the same interests, values and ideas. We should be willing to take the other person alongside us to grow. Then, it’ll become easier to attract kind hearts we’ll be willing to create a long-lasting friendship with. Finally, once you’ve found them—cherish that friendship, even if it’s subtle, having a friend is giving and receiving. You don’t work hard for it to work to impress them or gain something out of it. It’s a continuous expedition of self-reflection of who you are willing to become, and what you’re capable of doing to strengthen yourself.