No one tells you when you grow up and move away from your hometown that making friends outside of work or school is going to be weird/hard/awkward.
One day, you will just find yourself somewhere other than where you were born–out of your parents’ house, not in a dorm, in a new zip or area code, with a different driver’s license. And then, strangely, all of your friends will be elsewhere. And, like a sailor in the middle of the ocean surrounded by water with none to drink, you will be around lots of people who could be friends, but are not and they don’t know or care about you (yet). And, somehow, you have to change that.
You will find yourself feeling lonely, cabin-feverish, and desperate for friends. Of course, you will make a few or a lot at work or at school or where ever you go a lot. But, there will come a day when those work-friends and schoolmates just aren’t cutting it.
Maybe it’s because you’re sick of talking about work or school. Maybe you’re over being around people with similar back stories as you. Maybe you’ve hit your limit on complaining about your bosses, your non-friend classmates, your work, your homework, the shitty facilities, those one or two scandals circulating like stale air around the water cooler, or–maybe, just maybe–you’re over complaining, commiserating, and wallowing in the unfun parts of adulthood.
Perhaps, you just want to get drunk with some people who love the Matrix, hardcore music, and magic tricks like you. Or, possibly, you’d like to go dancing with people who not only know how to dance, but respect it as a serious art form and spent the better part of their lives grinding out eight-counts from sun-up to sun-down. Or maybe you want to find someone who doesn’t ironically complain about working out–like you find yourself doing even though you love it–to work out with.
You might need a buddy to sit by the pool with and chat about something mindless or mindful. You might want someone to walk your dog with you. You might want a movie marathon companion.
You might want to find someone who enjoys your dark humor genuinely. Who can take a shot and a joke. A person who carries their scars proudly and doesn’t add baggage to your cart.
Just one non-judge-y person who is kind of judge-y and who keeps the social media in check, but fun and present. One non-aloof, casual person. A smoker who doesn’t drink. A drunk who doesn’t smoke. A serious clown. One fun, mobile, exciting, boring, layabout, boring person to spend some time with.
But you walk out of the door of your bargain-rate apartment, your brand new condo, your fixer-upper house, your employer-subsidized housing unit, your hotel room, and you face a world full of faces you’ve never seen and wonder where to start. Cause no one told you.
For most of your life, you just made friends through proximate friction. Your path throw bodies in your way and you either fell over them and stayed on the ground laughing with them or you leaped over them or they just missed you. You rubbed elbows, shoulders, and so much more with people that just were where you were. And, in time, they became your small-f family and your most important people.
But now, the big bad adult you are, you find yourself isolated in a personal labyrinth of commutes, NPR, grocery runs, and 9-to-?’ing. Sometimes, you sneak in a gym sesh. But, all told, you live on the fray between comfortable and uncomfortable. And making new friends is surely, partially/mainly uncomfortable.
Making new friends in a new city as an adult is like dating, but weirder. You have to ask someone to do something. You have to get their number eventually. You have to test that person’s limits without directly asking.
We all meet a person blind, at first. We can see them (if we are sighted), but we cannot see who they are. We fumble awkwardly with our imperfect tools, words and thoughts, and only gather a bit of the picture. And from all that effort, you’re supposed to pull out threads of connection that you can weave into a friendship.
Would have been nice if there was a mandatory daily new person orientation in every city. At least, we could make some friends complaining about having to do the new person orientation.