So, I really dislike the term “Adulting”— the reference to the boring obligations of life like paying bills and grocery shopping and laundry. We get it, it’s intimidating and NOT fun at all (unless you do all of those things with a glass of wine in your hand and the best of Frank Sinatra blaring). However, if you like that word, one of the hardest, most anxiety inducing parts of “adulting”, in my opinion, is making friends. We humans CRAVE community. We were created to be relational, not solitary. And I think that even as we start dealing with careers, bills, money, careers, and life changes, community is even more crucial to mental health.
Confession Time: My job is incredibly social. I make a living by talking and building relationships with businesses, solving problems and being a source of assistance for all kinds of people in the business community. I love to network and help others succeed. (Total Type 3 career move). All of this being said, I still get intimidated by friendships. I get intimidated and anxious about making friends because that means vulnerability when I typically prefer to hide behind my successes. I hide behind the things that make me feel strong— please tell me I’m not the only one.
I find myself sometimes plagued with such a strong desire to be liked that it
almost isolates me. A little while ago, I had a thought, “Surely I can’t be the only one who struggles here.” I did a social media post (obviously) and some of the answers I got were SO comforting, and I think you'll breathe a sigh of relief like I did when I read them.
When I asked my social media friends what the most intimidating part of making adult friends, these are a few of the popular responses:
Fear of Rejection (“I feel like some people just don’t want to invite someone else in”)
Fear of Heartbreak and Betrayal
Where Do We Meet New Friends?
How Do We Start Small-Talk/ Build Relationships With New People?
Fear of Exposure and Vulnerability
“Effort Is Intimidating”
“Coming Off As Weird/ Over-Eager Instead of Inviting”
Getting Too Excited About A Friend Too Fast
Scaring New Friends Away By Being “Too” Inviting
This one girl in particular said: “I’m so excited and perpetually so scared about making new friends at my age. I feel like there are so many women I can connect with on social media, that I could hang out with in “real life” Bu ti think the scariest part is it’s basically dating, and the only attraction you’re looking for is a personal one. Which makes the measure on you, you personality, your sense of humor, your goals, your whatever, feel immeasurable.. Like ‘ I want to be your friend! I think you’re great!’ But simultaneously, my heart is screaming ‘I hope I’m not too weird for you. I hope I didn’t get too excited about this too fast!’”
Sometimes I just asks my social media friends these types of questions so I can breathe a sigh of relief. I AM AFRAID OF ALL OF THESE THINGS—but so is everyone else. That last quote is basically my fears in a statement.
Friend, we are created for community. Among friends, we thrive. We are at our best when we are in loving relationships of ALL kinds- especially platonic ones— and we all seem terrified of being too much. There’s so much fear when we face the newness of a new friend. What if we opened our hearts and our minds to make new, messy house friends? Instead of us all fearing vulnerability , what if we all opened up to one another? I dare you to show your weakness.
What if, on a first coffee date with a new friend, we shared how we actually were feeling instead of the default, “I’m fine!”. Friendships aren’t made in default answers. They're made in the middle of the fear.
TLDR: I’m not really here to share Top 5 Ways To Make Adult Friends, but I am here to say that— if you’re a little intimidated about branching out— you aren’t alone. That in itself is a little bit of community. Dang, there's your scary story for the Spooky Season: You're Scared of Other People, But Everyone Is Afraid Of You, Too. Let's all be pals :)