I used to say “I don’t need a whole bunch of friends, I just need one or two really good friends.”
It was true, in a way. I needed what I had: one best friend, and (usually) one boyfriend.
Then, when my best friend moved away for grad school, I discovered that I was… utterly lost.
I had no social circle, because I had always felt like I didn’t need one. I didn’t have the skills to cultivate new friendships or get to know people, because I was socially anxious and I felt like most people weren’t “worth it.”
This is something I hear a lot from my clients and friends:
How the hell do people make new friends as an adult? Other than co-workers, how does that even happen??
Well the answer, my friends, is that cultivating relationships as an adult is a skill, not a gift. As such, it can be learned and improved upon with practice, patience, and a ton of inner work.
For me, a lot of that inner work had to be done around my belief that most people weren’t “worth it,” and my fear that people are inherently untrustworthy.
I walked through the streets of NYC, surrounded by EIGHT MILLION PEOPLE, yet somehow I was sure that I just wouldn’t meet anybody I liked. I figured nobody would really “get me” (on account of how unique and complex I am lollll) plus I thought most people kinda suck anyway.
Retrospectively, it’s not difficult to understand why I struggled to make friends.
My negative, judge-y, closed-off mindset led me to put off a certain vibe, and the vibe did not say “you seem great, let’s be friends!”
My mindset was an automatic boundary, and it kept people out, even while I “tried” to make friends.
Then the healing began. I found a therapist, addressed my social anxiety, began unpacking old trauma, and started challenging my assumptions about other people.
As my boundaries fell, I began discovering and cultivating the deeply satisfying friendships which now form my cherished soul-tribe.
And then I fell in love, and moved to Syracuse, NY, and now it feels a bit like I’m starting over.
I have no social network here. No community. And frankly, my boundaries are a bit back up again.
I have my family, which is awesome. But I miss having community of local friends and acquaintances. People with shared interests, no kids, and similar schedules.
To make this more challenging this time around, I don’t have co-workers or people I interact with on a daily basis. Most days I spend working, completely alone, in my apartment.
When I realized this winter that I craved a social community, I started taking tons of classes to interact with new people. I tried pottery, yoga, belly dance, kundalini, pilates, spin, and African dance.
I even started taking my computer and kindle to random coffee shops and bars, just to be surrounded by other humans while I work or chill. It hasn’t really worked so far, but I like to think I’m eliminating all the bad ideas first. 😉
Plus, we recently signed a lease to move downtown!!
This is exciting, because I currently live in a teeny tiny town about 25 minutes away from the city of Syracuse.
I can’t stand it here.
Just to give you an idea of what this town is like… the lady at the liquor store across the street recently told me that she had to move out of Denver due to there being “just so many gays there.”
Really. She said this with a big friendly smile, and absolutely no clue that what she was saying might even be considered vaguely inappropriate. Ugh.
So, understandably I think, my “people suck” mindset has crept back in a bit, only this time it sounds more like “people here are just not my kind of people.”
I’m working on it though.
Cuz if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that your mindset going into anything will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Anyway, we move downtown at the end of August, and I am losing my mind with excitement about it.
This new apartment is about a 10 minute walk from tons of bars, stores, coffee shops, restaurants, and festivals, and I will finally be surrounded by people again!
People with good vibes, who voted for Hillary, maybe!! (A girl can dream, right?)
I guess this email is about hope, and friendship, and community-building. But it’s also about the importance of doing your inner work, getting your mind right, and knowing what you need to be happy.
PS, If you read this and live in Syracuse, let’s go get coffee or something. 😉
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