“Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart.”
– Washington Irving
Don’t get me wrong. I have a bunch of friends. They’re great and amazing. We get to speak on the phone at most once in three months. The last time I saw my closest friend was two years ago. So you can see how lonely it can be even with a bunch of great friends. I haven’t made any new friends in the last three years. My old friends are now spread around the country, trying to get their lives together. The truth is over the last few years; my circle of friends has begun to dwindle.
Until recently, I have never had to worry about being friendless. Making friends in high school was easy. Although I struggled with low self-esteem, my next best friend could have been the girl sitting next to me in the classroom, asking for my help with a math problem and the next thing; I’m already in their house watching a movie over a bowl of popcorn. In Uni, it was easy for me to make friends with the girl in the next room. All I had to do was knock on her door and ask “Do you know where I can get some snacks around here?” It was sometimes the girl sitting next to me during lectures who asked if I could lend her my jurisprudence textbook and suddenly we’re both in the convenience room either trying to fix our makeup or changing underwears.
When I got married, I was super happy with my husband and our new home. But I had absolutely no idea how to make friends as an adult. I did try to be friendly with a few of my new neighbours. We would wave and smile at one another and sometimes I would appear at their doorsteps with a slice of lemon cake sitting on a plastic tray. I would be welcomed into their homes and we would find a way to talk about our little community and things going on in the country. But I’ve found it quite difficult to take that step from “We both live in the same neighbourhood” to “Let’s start a really long life friendship” because in most cases, we all have almost nothing in common. And everyone is just busy gossiping about the woman next door.
So over the years, I’ve gone from “introvert” to “extra-introvert” (if there’s any word like that). I could stay indoors for a whole week without stepping onto my front porch. This is even more so because I work from home as a writer. So when I’m not busy working on an assignment, putting things in order around the house or running around with my toddler, then I’m definitely cuddled up in my blanket binging game of thrones. I do love playing food games with my son and spending hours reading a good book. And let me admit it, nowadays I would rather stay indoors than jump at an opportunity to hang out at a mall where I could take amazing photos to put up on Instagram. This is the secret lonely life of being an introverted writer who simply doesn’t want to admit that she is lonely because she is so used to it.
“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”
– Muhammad Ali
In moments of sober reflection, I am overwhelmed by a sudden feeling of insecurity. Ever heard the saying that “You’ll die just the way you lived?” It really scares me. I don’t want to die lonely. I want to die surrounded by people who love me. I want to be remembered even if by only a few people. And if that’s ever going to happen, then I have to take learning the art of making friends very seriously. In moments like these, a couple of questions pop up. How do I make friends as an adult? How do I recognize the good ones and weed out the bad?
I guess I would have to admit that I just don’t know how to make friends. I could decide that my only friends are my husband, my two-year-old son and all eight seasons of game of thrones. I could just embrace the life of hanging out on the couch while I chat up my friends on Whatsapp and laugh at their crazy jokes. But that’s not what I want. I want my real friends again. I want us to go to parties together, go shopping together, cook dinner together and go on long trips together with our families.
I’ve signed up for a number of classes and volunteer opportunities; attended community events and contributed generously to discussions on online group chats, hoping to make new friends. But there is always this big scary voice asking me not to make a fool of myself. I tell myself that if they really are interested in me, they would make a move. As an adult, I have realized that the biggest part of trying to make friends is taking the risk that people may not like you in the long run and the thought of it freaks me out
So now, I think the only remedy for my lonely life is to be vulnerable about it and admit that this is how I feel. I know that I’m not so good at maintaining friendships. I think it’s because I assume everyone has a busy life and my constant keeping in touch will be a burden on their busy schedule. I also feel a sense of inadequacy because most of us have changed in so many ways, even socially and I doubt if we could ever fit into one another’s lives again.