how to make friends

Being new in an unfamiliar city can be difficult, namely because you can no longer rely on the support and companionship of your friends; something which we often take for granted. Recently I realised that if I was going to properly enjoy this venture, I would need to form some local friendships; a concept which to me, is entirely intimidating.

I suppose I could be described as socially awkward; I never know what to say in group situations and as a result, often wind up saying the wrong thing, or else sitting mute and being considered quite peculiar. For this reason (among others), I’ve never been awesome at making friends. The few mates that I do have I’ve known since we were fairly young, and I couldn’t tell you where I found them, or why they’ve stuck with me for so long. On the rare occasion that I have made a friend as an adult, it’s gone swimmingly until the moment that I’ve realised that my newest bosom buddy is in fact a psychopath. At which point, I’ve been obliged to walk briskly in the opposite direction. True story.

So suffice to say, the necessity of making friends has left me feeling both bewildered and slightly nervous. In response to these feelings, I did what I always do when I need answers; I looked it up on the internet. Fortunately, the articles I read made it all seem fairly easy; basically, you just have to find people with shared interests and act friendly and approachable. (Though I must admit, I did wonder as to the intended audience of the stuff I was reading when one concluded with the slightly disconcerting suggestion that if you can, you should refrain from ‘pressuring others into being friends against their will’. Umm… )

Even so, I was left with the impression that there mustn’t be much to it, and that once I’d warmed up and got the knack, forming new friendships should be a fairly simple process; especially taking into account my blossoming confidence and new found willingness to climb out on the proverbial limb. In my head it went something like this:

Step One: Find people with whom you have something in common.

Step Two: Bond over said thing that the two of you have in common.

Step Three: Become the best of friends.

Unfortunately, what I’m finding (and this could be a result of the previously mentioned communication retardation), is that making friends is every bit as difficult as I’d originally expected.

In truth, approaching strangers can be an intimidating operation. After all, we’ve all experienced rejection by our peers, and unless we’re crazy, we’re unlikely to want to risk a reoccurrence of such an event.

One occasion in particular has left me scarred for life. It was when I was ten years old, and my dad and I were waiting for something or other beside a group of girls. I guess he’d seen I was looking lonely and, noticing the children nearby, urged me to go and introduce myself. Suitably wary of kids my age, I told him they seemed to have enough friends, but he said I was being silly; that you can never have too many friends. Braced by his optimism, I approached the girls and, as expected, was met by raised eyebrows and a pout that stated quite clearly: there’s something hideous standing quite close to me and I can’t figure out what it is or why it hasn’t gone away yet.

If you were wondering, I didn’t make any friends that day.

I reckon there’s a lot to be said for the argument I put forward almost two decades ago; people only need so many friends. As a result, working your way into an established clique can prove quite difficult. For the past few weeks I’ve been making a concerted effort to mingle, in an attempt to make some mates. Perhaps it just needs more time, but I’ve gotta say; so far, people haven’t been terribly receptive.

 

Do you agree that it’s difficult to make new friends, or do you find it fairly easy? Got any hot tips for this socially awkward individual?

 

When it comes to forming friendships, I’m about as clueless as Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. Watch him figure out and then apply an algorithm for making friends. Oh, if only.

 

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12 thoughts on “how to make friends

  1. honestly Shel, just be you…… u are an amazing girl and when you are enjoying what your doing, you will shine and people will want to do it with you and hence maybe become more.. just smile or smirk to yourself…… people always smile back…..

  2. This was by a long shot one of my favs so far! I think a lot of people feel exactly how you do (especially me! :P). I even went through a faze where I’d try to look up friendship sites on the web (much similar to dating sites) however with MUCH less successfulness. I’m guessing the urge to find a partner/sole mate is MUCH more appealing than making new friends 😛 Anywho I think the moral to the story is people who want to make new friends are ALL walking around in this awkward “who is going to approach who first” moment, so that no one ever does 😛

    • Exactly! So even though there are all these folks out there wishing they could meet new friends, we’re all still lonely on a Friday evening. It is a conundrum. I don’t suppose you ever managed to find a solution for us all..?

  3. Just FYI if someone you aren’t friends with on Facebook messages you it can go into a folder called “others” so this person likely never even saw your message.

    • Ah, really? I didn’t know that. How odd that the option to message people you aren’t friends with even exists, then. I just thought that it would be less presumptuous and freaky to send a PM than to send a friend request; what if the person doesn’t want to be friends, you know?

  4. My observation (from the view point of an older person who has had a transient life) is that friends come in waves. High school friends, university friends, friends from work, friends from ante-natal class, (parent) friends from nursery, (parent) friends from primary school. Each group lasts the time of the event, and most disappear after the event has happened.
    We try to stay in touch with the ones we form a closer bond to, but that normally is due to nostalgia. And even these we see less and less of each year.

    Friends drift off quicker, than new ones being washed up on the shore of our lives (its the truth we have to live with)

    I have spent many times standing on the edge of a crowd of friends looking in, wishing I was more than the ‘new guy’ who does not get all the jokes or has that shared memory. I like the idea of walking into a pub and being recognised, being invited to all the parties, going fishing with the mates, because that is what we always do. But it is never what we always do, its really just few times magnified by story telling. Or more boringly, it really is what we always do, with the same people, over and over again.

    And if that is really what you wanted, then you would be in Cessnock, with the other high school girls, and a pram, and a belly full of arms and legs, and some bloke called ‘Chook’ who thinks he loves you, and comes home late on Saturday night because he has been fishing with his mates …….. again……and again……… every Saturday night.

    Then you wouldn’t being standing in a pub in Melbourne reciting poetry. Would you?

    • I certainly don’t regret moving away and I am happily celebrating the opportunities this has provided. You’re right; if it wasn’t for the move, the personal growth I’ve been enjoying wouldn’t have been possible. But I do miss having friends. We all need mates.

  5. “Backs say nothing”

    Hi Michelle,
    I hope you don’t mind me following your blog, and writing back to you like this from time to time. I find that a lot of what you are writing about reminds me of myself, around your age.
    I don’t think that many of the things that you are writing about are that unique amongst a good percentage of your audience, including myself. There is a sense of credibility on the self-perceptions that you have, as many of us have them. The upside to this when we recognise a comedians observations, or a lyric about love, or a writers opinion, is that we feel connected, and that there is a reassurance given both ways. That’s why when you performed in the pub you felt good, because you were validated by the feedback.
    Also, you can write (in my opinion) very well, and one of my favourite examples is the following:

    “On the occasional blue moon throughout my childhood, our mother would appear unannounced on the door step. Possessed by a sudden wave of bashfulness, we’d stand staring out at her from the hall, with no words to draw her across the threshold. Then, grinning like a Cheshire cat, she’d break the shocked silence with a gregarious gesture and in an instant a silly excitement would sweep through the house. Regardless of how long she’d been gone, we were always devastatingly pleased to see her. After all, she was our mother.”

    (By the way, I think that if you had changed the words ‘our mother’ in the first line to something like ‘she’ as in “she would appear on the doorstep”, the last sentence would have had more impact.)

    I think that it is because I like some of your stuff so much, that I felt compelled to write to you and say: “Michelle, backs say nothing”.

    Many decades ago, when you father first got involved in photography, he sent a photo that he really liked to a magazine, which exhibited readers photos in a regular section. The photo, as I remember it had a certain character about it, with three cowboy types leaning on a fence, at a rodeo. The fence was rustic, and the cowboys looked genuine, and there was bush in the background and dust in the air. All three gentlemen had their backs to the camera. Possibly this was because your father believed it was a good photo, or possibly because sometimes your dad can be a timid man and maybe he didn’t have the confidence to walk around and take a photo face on. Who knows, it was a long time ago.
    So he sent the photo off, hoping to be published, only to receive his photo back in the post, with these three words written on the reply: “Backs say nothing.” No more than that.
    There are very few years that have passed that I don’t see a photo with somebody’s back in it, and I always say to myself “Backs say nothing”. So my conundrum is was your father right in that the photo had merit, despite the positioning of the subjects; and subsequently all photos I have seen of peoples backs are validated. Or intrinsically, photos of people’s backs are meaningless?
    Or – was the editor really saying, “If you want to be a serious photographer of life, then take risks, and get out in front!” I think now, reading your blog, that this was the real message.

    So Michelle, I say to you, “Backs say nothing”.

    • Glen,

      I am pleased that you read along and chime in from tine to time. It relieves me to know that I’m just one of many who feels completely lost from time to time.

      That’s an interesting story with a potent message. I sincerely hope that as I journey through my life, I don’t appear just another back turned against the lens. Nor a curious soul who, due to fear of failure, will only ever see things from behind.

  6. Gosh, I enjoyed that 🙂 Lovely post. For the larger part of my life, I have been socially awkward. Making friends has never been easy, and more difficult than that: making REAL, GOOD friends. But, surprisingly and miraculously, I was blessed with one amazing and true friend in high school. We’re still friends now (you can read my post about her, if you like… corny, I know: http://ruqaiyahdavids.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/my-oldest-friend/). Anyway, being friends with her has taught me much, and I have grown SO much because of her. Through having her honest and true friendship, with her sticking with me through all my annoying madness, excessive chatter and crazy, obsessive habits, I have developed more confidence in myself and gotten the crazy notion that, maybe, just maybe, other people will also like me just as mad as I am, without pretense and trying to be the person that people would want to be friends with. And so, over time, in the different stages of my adult life where she could not go with me, I made more friends, on my own. And they, too, turned out to be really great friends. So, as for hot tips for you, the only one I have is that, if just one true friend found something worthwhile in you that she thought to stick around for a while, then hold on to that, and use that same ingredient when trying to make new friends.

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