My best friend and I have been friends for nine years. She’s been there through it all: proms, first loves, breakups, college, grad school, hospital trips. She’s been with me when others grew tired and left, when friendships faded, and when friendships were just never meant to last. She’s been there for me unwaveringly, through the bad times and the really, really good.
But, she has other friends too. And that’s normal, right? Of course. But TV shows and movies glamorize the idea of just two best friends or one friend group that only spend time with each other, that live together, work together, have significant others that are also best friends, and are practically conjoined.
Newsflash: THAT IS NOT REALITY. Now, my best friend and I do a lot together. We’ve lived together and are preparing to live together again soon, we hang out all the time, and we know each other as well as we know ourselves.
However, she has her own life, and I have mine. She has friends that I don’t know, she hangs out with people and goes places without me, and that’s the way it should be. The problem for me has been finding those other friends for myself. I didn’t keep up with any high school friends after graduation, and all my college friends have dispersed. When I moved home after college, I found myself in a friend desert. I’ve spent a lot of weekends alone, with my family, or with my dog.
In some ways, that’s been good for me. But in a bigger way, it’s left me longing for adult friendships. This year, those friendships have started forming, seemingly out of nowhere. It’s been an exciting (and scary) time, and I’ve learned a lot through the process. So for all the other introverted twenty-somethings in friend deserts out there (are there any besides me?), here are some lessons I’ve gathered on forging adult friendships.
Be aware of RBF:
I’ll admit it. I have RBF. I don’t mean anything by it, but when I’m concentrating on my work, focusing on something I’m watching, or even just daydreaming, I’ve been told I look a little intimidating. I’m not saying that you should alter your personality or smile all the time. You’d probably look scarier that way than with RBF. I’m simply saying that an awareness of the energy I’m putting out has given me authority over the energy I’m bringing in.
Be where you are:
I’ve spent this summer in a very intensive, participatory internship. Many interns traveled quite far for this experience, meaning they don’t know anyone else in Atlanta; subsequently, we’ve all hung out a lot in the past ten weeks. Some of these people I probably would have never interacted with outside of these circumstances. But this is where I’ve been, and it’s surprisingly led to a lot of fun experiences with new friends.
One day this spring, a girl from my class project groups asked me to go to a concert. We had never interacted outside of class, but with no reason to say no, I said okay. The concert ended up being canceled, so we got dinner and had a great conversation. Today, she’s one of my closest friends. If there’s no reason to say no, don’t.
You’re not signing a contract:
As an introvert, I firmly believe in quality over quantity. I don’t have a lot of friends, but I am fiercely loyal to the ones I keep close. However, I’ve slowly been learning to, quite frankly, chill out a little bit. It’s fine to casually hang out with a group and not know every single person’s life story. You can still have a good time without having to be in each other’s weddings.
Some friends are forever, some are seasonal:
It’s okay to have friends that don’t stick around. So far, my twenties have been full of short-term jobs, internships, and classes that last three months. Change is constant, and people you had a lot in common with last month may not still be around today. That’s what your best friend is for.
So those are the lessons I’ve learned so far this year! I’m excited to have made a few good friends and I’ve enjoyed getting to know several new people. If you’ve got a great lesson from forging adult friendships, I’d love to hear it!