I’m not someone who makes friends easily. It’s not because I’m not social or that I don’t like people. Not at all. I just find it more difficult to make friends as I get older.
In the past 18 months, I worked really hard at making new friends. Good news: I DID IT!
Bad News: Both couples (and their adorable kiddos) just moved out of the area.
Of course I was disappointed, but I decided not to let this stop me from putting myself out there again and making new friends.
However, now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I’ve come to the terrifying conclusion that I know literally nothing about any of the other friends I have right now. We live in such a shallow world that I can literally go through my entire day without actually talking to anyone about anything of any substance.
I realize that none of my friends here really know me. But why should they? I frequently Insta and post on FB- cute pics of the kids, text upbeat messages about how we should get together real soon. But nothing significant.
There are so few people that know my soul. Like really know me, what makes me excited, what makes me laugh, what really upsets me. And likewise, I really don’t know anything real about any of my so-called friends either. I think this is why depression and anxiety rates are so high in this country. None of us interact and engage with anyone else, not on any sort of meaningful level anyways. We could literally all be crying sad, ugly tears while posting pics of our great day at the park, texting each other making plans, sharing articles about world news. All the while sobbing silently about how lonely we are. No one would even know. And if that’s not depressing, I don’t know what is.
And for those of us who have moved to a new city, started a new job, or have a family that sucks up most of our free time, we know how hard it is to get to know new people. It’s exhausting. It requires commitment, time, emotional energy. It’s so much easier to glide through life waving hello to the mom at the community center who’s name you can’t remember, saying hi to your kids’ friends moms at school, politely smiling and agreeing we should have a play date sometime soon.
I’ve realized that we have lost the ability to really connect with each other on an intimate level. I like to blame technology for almost all of our problems (a necessary evil, I know, I know) and it sure is easy to hide behind our posts, texts and tweets. But I honestly think a lot of us just don’t care. We are too tired to make the effort, too busy, too distracted. But these meaningless superficial relationships we have are empty, and if our relationships are empty, our own substance is probably lacking, too.
I have so many conversations -deep, controversial discussions- in my head, primed and ready for the right audience. And yet I stay silent. Scared to ask people’s opinions, scared to share my own. Too tired to open up about things I care about, or to learn about what others feel passionate about. But what is the point if we aren’t challenging ourselves, forming these deeper connections? Isn’t that how we sustain ourselves? Without meaningful and intimate connections with people, what really is there?
So I challenge you today, or this week, or next month, to really connect with someone. Look them in the eye and really care about what they have to say. Don’t get by with the small talk crap, ask a meaningful question. Give them a meaningful answer. Be vulnerable, even if just for a minute. Because otherwise, what the is the point?