Dear Emily, Making Friends Is Hard

Dear Emily, 

Everyone else has tons of friends and you don’t… there must be something wrong with you.

Sincerely,

Your Subconscious


I’ve always been the type of person that has one or two good friends in every group of people. It’s not that I’m not friends with everyone, but I usually end up with a handful of close friends and a lot of acquaintances. This became especially apparent to me in high school, and even more so in college when the “sorority” iteration of friendship takes over. The idea that you should have dozens of “best friends” who you spend every waking second with, talking about everything from boys to class to the newest trends, and saying things like “sisters for life” was a new concept to me. I began to question myself because I didn’t fit into that mold. Sure, I could go out to parties or have fun at football games with big groups of these girls, but actual deep friendships? No way, not my speed.

I began to feel like something was wrong with me. Why didn’t I have hoards of friends to go out with on my birthday, or any given Friday night? I wasn’t being tagged in dozens of pictures every weekend and felt like maybe I wasn’t connecting with the right people. Eventually I found ~my girls~ and select group of close friends that I love to this day, but I never had that feeling of being a part of the “in crowd” while I was in college.

Fast forward a few years, having moved back to California and away from my closest college friends, and I’ve found myself feeling a similar feeling. What they don’t tell you when you graduate from college is that making friends, like real friends, is maybe the most awkward thing EVER. I mean, it sucks. You don’t realize how long it really takes you to get to know someone until you aren’t living with them or spending all day in classes together. Nobody tells you that you’re going to feel like an awkward middle schooler again at 25- trying to navigate a completely new set of social rules, new schedule, and changing body. Honestly, I could have used a little warning!

Finding new friends is hard in a big city when you’ve got a full time job. Catching someone up on your life until this point can take a long time- and being vulnerable is hard with someone you don’t know very well. Sure, we’ve all got that work friend who we can complain to over happy hour that the office has suddenly stopped stocking our favorite snack, or bond with over our mutual dislike of another coworker. But real friends? They are few and far between. To top it off, if you do manage find someone you vibe with, you’ve got to juggle work schedules, traffic patterns (here’s lookin’ at you, Los Angeles), and other relationships to try and find the time and energy to create a new friendship from scratch. It’s exhausting!

Now I’m not discouraging you from trying. I’m just saying that I’ll be the first one to admit that I’ve been discouraged more than a few times about my lack of new friends since college. I want to recognize that in this age of social media and over-connected-ness we are living in, it’s actually hard to find a deep connection. It seems a bit backwards, but ultimately, it’s made me value my lasting friendships more than ever. I recently took a trip to Portland with one of my best friends (which you saw if you follow me on the ‘gram) and it was a great reminder of just how easy friendship can be. No forced, awkward coffee dates, no second-guessing your choice of words, or wondering if they actually want to be friends too. Just a comfortable understanding and ease of connection that is what, I think, friendship should be all about.