Making friends has never been easy for me. Whether it was making the wrong friends, getting burned too many times or my own inability to connect with people, it hasn’t been an easy road.
And it doesn’t get easier as you get older or move to big cities. When I moved to Chicago, I knew no one. It took me six months to connect with someone (by accident) and fortunately, a group of friends spawned from that. That friend, and some of that group, are no longer in the picture.
My history, and that experience reminded me that making friendships and connecting with people are things I’ll always struggle with.
I didn’t leave college with a solid, tight group of friends. Maybe it was transferring schools or other things happening at that time, but that didn’t happen. I had friends and people I hung out with, but not deeply connected friends I actively keep in touch with to this day.
Then, I read an article in the New York Times about the evolution of friendships in adulthood and it hit on exactly how I feel about this topic.
For a long time, work has always been my #1 priority. I prioritized that over friendships and a lot of social experiences. My upbringing was focused on job, career, getting financially and professionally established. Friendships were never told to take a back seat, but that inevitably happened. And now that I am financially and professionally stable, I am prioritizing relationships and friendships, something that now I’m catching up on after years out of the game.
And when you don’t play sports, have a boyfriend or kids, connecting is tough. I’ve met a lot of people through blogging, work and random occurrences in the city, but those aren’t your 20-year-old self friendships. Life, work, priorities and other things get in the way, and despite those people in my life, I still find myself alone more than I thought it would. This isn’t a bad thing but again, when catching up on life, it’s a realization.
And even in my desire to connect with people, age, history and time has reminded me to be careful of who I let in. After turning 30, I shifted my priorities of who I want to spend time with. Gone are many of the constantly negative people I used to hang out with and now, I invest in friendships with people I want to spend time with and who are good influences for me.
This isn’t easy and often, takes a LOT of time. But the friendships I have in Chicago, through work, blogging, etc. are those I want to be in my life. And those who show they cannot make our friendship a two-way street, they move to the sidelines.
Starting over with friends or looking for them, is never easy. And putting boundaries on those you have, isn’t either. But it’s a process in finding people meant to be in your life at that particular time.
I’m not a great friend all of the time, but I like to think that to those I am friends with, I’m not too bad to hang out with :)