(Image by me, isn't Arizona pretty!)
Honestly, this is not a "how to" it's simply the musings of a person who has to learn how to make friends in her adult life.
I've never been a super shy person, nor have I been a quintessential social butterfly.
It used to be so easy, I remember starting a new school being insanely nervous, having butterflies in my tummy mixing with excitement. Starting a new school always meant a fresh start, a promise to avoid the "mean girls" and just make good choices about the people you wanted to spend every lunch with.
Primary school in Australia was simple as the teacher introducing you to a person that would show you around the classroom, show you where to put your backpacks (in the cubby!), where the art supplies were and where the Grade 4's ate their lunch. Next thing you know you were playing red rover or bullrush together and planning to meet after school at the park with your bikes and little brothers in tow. It was all so simple.
Then... High School and changing schools was a little more challenging, the kids had developed attitudes, television was our main source of entertainment and also gave us some pretty nasty ideals about who we needed as our friends. The Internet was rarely talked of as very, very few people even had access to the net and don't even get me started on DIAL UP! No one had mobile phones and everyone had a home phone, you knew all your best friends home phone numbers by heart as you never had a contact list. Diaries were kept instead of blogs and the only people that knew you were having a bad day were your parents and your bestie, it certainly wasn't plastered all over Facebook that no one understands you. In saying that, you walked through those gates on your first day and it was still quite daunting. If you hadn't found a friend by home room or first class shit was starting to get pretty dire, but sure enough by the time little lunch rolled along you had already made 3 friends, all of which promised to meet you at your last class to show you where the hang out was. See, simple as that.
In the real world I met most of my best friends through work or friends of friends. I haven't kept in contact with a great deal of friends from high school (sorry), some still all remain as close as they all were in high school. I met my best friend through work, she was actually my boss and was there to greet me at the front door on my first day in the big new city I had just moved to, by lunch we had solidified our friendship over fish and chips and she has been the best friend I could ever have in the world going on 5 years now. She's my "sister from another mister" kind of bestie and I miss her like crazy. I miss our Bohemian Rhapsody sing-a-longs in the car and our weekly sushi dates, our never ending work pranks and sitting in lounge room whenever I was in need of some love, she would feed me cheese and just listen, I miss that.
Two years later I sit in our home office 10,000 million miles away (alright, I have a flair for exaggeration) from all the comforts a solid friendship has to offer and I am asking myself, "How do you make friends when you're an adult"? OK, let's be real here peoples, I don't feel like an adult. I just feel like a slightly grown up kid. Apart from paying bills, grocery shopping and making my bed every day (Yes Ma, you will be happy to know I do make the bed EVERY day) I still feel like I did when I was 18. Mr. J and I don't drink, we don't party, we're home bodies. We like to get up early and go on hikes and bike rides, watch scary movies at home whilst stuffing our faces with ice cream and making fart jokes. I prefer to spend my money on makeup, hair products and craft supplies rather than booze. Is this really going to make me a whole lot of friends?
Clearly, I am old enough to know what I want. We have all been in those friendships that are one sided or you question why you are even friends with this person if all they do is cause you pain and stress. I have, so I know what I don't want in a friendship. I have spent a whole lot of time thinking about how people create friendships when they literally know no one in town. It's not as if I can go up to a random someone in the street and say "Hi, want to be my friend?" there is a very high chance I may have the cops called on me. There are meet up sites out there and various social networking sites have in the past have created some wonderful friendships which I still treasure to this day, but is that what we have to resort to? Do we have to essentially interview our friends before we meet them in person? The world has changed I understand that, look at the forum in which I choose to express myself, Hello! From being blissfully unaware of the Internet at the age of 13, to having every part of our lives being filtered through this technology. That's not to say that I don't love it. The world seems smaller, I can Skype with my Mum anytime I am feeling homesick and it's like she is right there sharing a cup of tea with me. It's amazing that I can keep in contact with all of my friends back in Australia, keep up with everything they are up to and I know that when we see each other again, it will be like I never left.
So what are we missing? It's so easy to develop and maintain our friendships a squillion miles away, why is it so hard to do that in your own backyard? Maybe it's just about putting yourself out there, whether it be in the grocery store, cafe, blog, Instagram, job, craft store... the list goes on. Being the new person in a new town/country can be mind numbingly stressful, having to contend with learning how to do everything from scratch is a real kick in the butt. How to pay bills? How to set up a bank account? Do people still use Cheques (checks)? I thought that was just in the movies. You are learning a whole new set of rules, so why not take that one step further? May it be at the bank or behind your computer. What have you got to loose? As of today I challenge you to put yourself out there, I know I'm going to.