I took time off to help myself make friends: Here’s how it went !
If the likes of Paul Simon or David Crosby had their way and ruled the world forever; all we’d need is to make a call and a BFF would show up right on our doorsteps! Reality however, is like some dark afternoon and friendship is the stormiest of all the ties. As hard it is to find ethereal love, arguably it is even more difficult to pick up a new pal whom we can really connect to.
Here’s to what a fine friendship is all about and how do we get it to last a lifetime?
Free time is scarce- For everybody! And so are friends.
Making one, particularly in this day and age, isn’t easy either!
They just don’t appear. You have to intentionally reach out to someone who doesn’t bore you, is not a hypocrite and never stalls to share.
And I was running scarce of friends!!
So, I set up certain tricky standards before I could touch elbows. I looked around for adjacent friends; the types you sometimes get to see at the Gung-ho parties that usually share mutual friends, but never get to have one-to-one conversations.
Still I didn’t know how to get past that awkward small talk and double time the “Hi! would you care to be friends” business. I had always thought of making friends but dreaded going to the drawing board.
I tried to fit in with the people I already knew…well it just didn’t happen…maybe it was way deeper than I thought it ought to!
The year I turned fifty was the year I realized I didn’t have friends. I was moving into a new decade of my life and felt strongly about my career, accomplishments and relationships.
Yet when somebody would ask me whom I will send a ‘red heart’ on friendship day; my mouth will open, I would gulp and nothing would come out but a long trail of “ummms”…
Like everybody else I loved to hang around with friends. I was wary and timid but would always manage to survive the cutting edge. I would often step out of the box and was friends to many. I was spending very few hours of any day alone!
When I moved out to my job after University, I could still manage to get people to hang around with and never fell short of full social calendar. Real or not…those guys never left me off the hook. I was a footloose and always raring to fight fire with fire at the drop of a hat!
But then something changed!
A lot many of them got married and drifted off; a few shifted to bigger cities and I felt flat. For once I was robbed-off togetherness.
Crank calls grew stale and scarce. We would rarely see each other and whenever that happened, it felt empty. It were as if everybody had burnt the bridges behind their backs! No hang outs, no pep talks…no happy hours to attend; it sensed like I was laid-off from my full time job.
As if this was not enough of a complete shocker, an old timer buddy also left behind, declared abruptly that he no longer wanted to be friends anymore and wouldn’t care less if I felt the same way!
The last straw was blown to winds…. Everybody had hung me out to dry.
I felt sad and lonely. I was nearing retreat and struggling to be mates!
For the mess, I placed a lot of blame on myself. I was canceling weekend plans. I was forgetting to respond to text messages for days. It felt like I hadn’t invested time in fueling friendship. It was like I usurped everything to run it dry. I could have shown more interest in my friends and their families. Instead I chose to spend a lot of my free time sulking and arguing myself.
Why I couldn’t have someone to call a best friend ?
Why wouldn’t I have a guest list nice and long enough to reserve more than a table for two on my Anniv blast?
With so many screaming lives running at full speed and in different directions, it’s hard to slow down long enough to find and develop new friends. People are hooked more than ever onto devices; so finding someone who would care more for a real life connect is a challenge.
Did I get to make new friends?…
I realized that I needed a few things before I could rake up quick rapport with someone. Little did I know then that I was prepping myself for a new decade; both in age and life!
And this is how I saved myself hours of tepid, dead-end banter…
It was my call…so;
I hustled to bore people
Aren’t we all aware of the things to talk about when we meet somebody for the first time? Sports, weather, work… trivia only; and we worry that anything close to our heart might scare people away. This drift of playing safe, stonewalls everything we build to know about a person- if he or she is the right one to be a friend in the making!
Daring outcomes, I decided to let go of the slipshod gossip and went straight for what moved me.
“What do you think is the best television finale of all time?” “Have you heard about the Pentagon’s recent UFO report?”.
I would find these to be a great starter so long as they could stir up some interest for me. I would back away if it worked otherwise and that would save me some rancid moments!
Whatever…I thought either way I would end up happy all the same.
If I could strike a chord; I have won, If I didn’t…
Well! I never liked the idea of going public and make myself speak out to strangers in the first place.
Besides I abhorred the idea of putting down my phone whenever I went public!
I pushed myself to get curious about people
“What’s a belief you have that has changed over the course of your life?”
“What has been challenging for you the last year?”
Asking something like this helps to strengthen the fetters, or so I thought. Knowing each other’s opinion over things trivial without judging them might just about crush the challenge;
It felt good; I thought I have finally found a way to make the kill!
But it didn’t work out that way for me …
May be I was asking them to reveal so early about who they were or trying to be.I realized that there is no substitute for time when we think of bonding strongly to somebody.
So I pulled off those superficial stunts to avoid rejection and…
I didn’t have to wait for long to feel connected. My take on this?…
Next time you’re partying, or hanging around with some one you might want to befriend, ask yourself what’s worth sharing and what’s worth knowing.
Get right to it only thereafter.
I decided to give it a try and said “cheese!”
Seriously! I tagged in ‘smile’ on my list, for I think it is a powerful way to pickup connections. For one thing, smile takes you out of your head and defines you as profound as it goes. For another, you are no longer being dismissive or cruel.
Besides, who would want to be friends to some grumpy, irritable or crestfallen face?
So, I thought if I could connect to someone by showing off those pearly whites; why not?
I could afford to burn a little, if that helps!
I stepped out of the box
Am I limiting myself? I could easily hit it off with people some 10 years older than me. The only glitch was that I wasn’t sure if I would find somebody brave enough, to hero a dingbat like me…
And it felt like a half baked whiz kid idea fated to end miserably.
A fabled friend to many in the past, I couldn’t dare to stick my neck out and get along with 25-something people either!
I find no shame in struggling a bit; yet I couldn’t find that one soul, I was looking for.
I know this happen sometimes; but to me it happened one time too many. I did come across people who would share mutual respect for Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and Jumanji. Next thing we know, we would be meeting for weekly brunches and all that pep talk!
But like always…it’s harder. I would end all screwed up. I can’t get past the feeling that I was the only person in the party without a partner in crime.
It just wouldn’t work for me.
Whatever the reason, I decided to stay put and not get discouraged. I knew that with enough self confidence, flexibility and patience, some day I will find friends — and get to keep them for life.
I wouldn’t queue up though!
Today, down the line with 10 years of craziness behind me, it doesn’t feel valley low. I remember to laugh, listen and be kind. I wouldn’t ever let no one who comes to me, leave without feeling better and happier.
I did though find someone freaking awesome with a beautiful mind!!
Life has since taken a coin flip for good. I hum with joy and stay stoked all day long. I wake up each morning wondering if my Octopus teachings did score a point!
“What are you saying”? she would quip; “Friends are a choice to make and don’t come with a tag”; if I were to tell her what it all means to me.
“Why would you say that you get lonely when both of us know that we are not desperate to find each other every day of our lives?”
“Isn’t being together and sharing, the same thing as friendship?”
And she would lit up the world for me.
Both of us would agree and smile but she would still chide softly.