This is the 12th entry in my This I Believe series.
I’ve lived in Kokomo for 6 years this summer, and I can count on 2 fingers the amount of friends that I/we actively socialize with on a regular basis. And those 2 people are married. And holdover friends from college. And we haven’t socialized with them since the Super Bowl back at the beginning of February. And it really feels pathetic.
(Here come the “buts.”) But, I/we have never been social butterflies. But, we each have a collective group of friends that we work with. BUT, we have the lame yet true “excuse” of being so ridiculously busy for much of this semester that we don’t even see each other that much let alone friends.
I believe that it’s really, really hard for most people to make new friends a) when they graduate from college or high school (whatever their culminating education might be) and b) when they move to a new town/city where they don’t know anyone, specifically in their own age bracket. Not only do I believe that it’s really hard, but I believe that it’s an issue that isn’t addressed enough and leads to definite feelings of confusion, loss, depression, self-doubt, or some combination of any of these.
I admit that I’ve gone through some gradation of feeling all of these in the past 6 years, despite joining my best friend in moving to this new city. It’s taken me this long to come to terms with friendship as being a different beast than it used to be. Admittedly, friendship has never been easy for me; I feel awkward and overtly intimidated by people that I don’t know or don’t know well. Consequently, I also know that I come across as snotty or mean too often. I mean, I know it, and that alone leads to feelings of “confusion, loss, depression, [and] self doubt.” I’m also just starting to recognize this and thus be more conscious of it.
Thinking back about high school, I didn’t realize how torturous it was at times for me to relate to and communicate with my peers. It was the norm, and I didn’t dwell on it at the time. So here’s my apology to anyone who knew me before college. I know of one circumstance where I was completely misconstrued, and it led to a lot of unintentional pain for both me and my friend. I fully admit that I still dwell on that situation today—10 years later. I’m sorry I was such a snot and so mean. I didn’t try to be. I really didn’t.
I believe that friendship is just hard, and I completely admire those people for whom the ability to engender and maintain friendships is a natural gift. Social media is a whole ‘nother monkey that has absolutely twisted our cultural understanding of “friendship,” and I believe that it enables people to believe that they are “friends” in interesting and counterintuitive ways. But I also believe that the friends that you fly across the country to see, those are the ones that you cherish. Your friend base doesn’t have to be centered in the geographic area that you live, and I’m learning to understand that I’m okay with that. But, it sure does make it a little more convenient.