I AM AN EXTROVERT TO THE CORE.
I love people, and I pride myself on never having met a stranger. This made making friends easy for me growing up. I had my group of 2 best friends throughout elementary school and jr. high. Once I moved on to high school, things got a little more complicated with us all having our own unique schedules and we just could not make it work. I jumped from friend group to friend group for convenience and from the fear of being alone. After stretching myself and trying to be who everyone else needed me to be, I moved off to college where I knew no one and had to start completely over with my friendships. I’ve been on both sides of it. I’ve had some of the closest friends that do everything together. I’ve had my heart broken by people who I thought were my friends. And I’ve had to struggle to find where I fit in and who my friends actually are and who they aren’t.
Lucky for me, I met some of my closest friends during my college season. These were most of the women that stood next to me on my wedding day and who I know I can count on no matter what. Now, I’m a college graduate, newlywed, that’s moved 4 times in the first year and a half of marriage, with a job that requires me to be on call 24/7. As you can imagine, friendships as an adult haven’t been easy, and I am still navigating this journey myself. It has required a lot of intentionality and commitment on my end to foster the friendships I do have as well as the ones that I hope to have. Although I can openly admit that I don’t have this completely figured out, I do believe that I have some ways to help you make, build, and foster meaningful friendships as an adult.
THE FIRST STEP TO NAVIGATING ADULT FRIENDSHIPS IS TO ACTUALLY HAVE FRIENDS. (SHOCKING?)
The way that we connect with one another has changed tremendously due to the influence of technology. It has completely altered the ways we connect and the ways in which we connect. We have also adapted this mindset of hustle, and we believe the lie that working harder is smarter. As adults, we are so busy yet we are so lonely. We know we desire these relationships but sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start.
The best way to make friends in 2019 is to simply show up.
You have to show up at events and put yourself out there even if it’s scary or uncomfortable. You show up to events like birthday parties and cookouts, even if you don’t know anyone else there. You intentionally put yourself in places to meet people because chances are that there are people there longing for friendships as well. I have yet to meet a person over the age of 21 that doesn’t say they wish they had more friends or that they are longing for more meaningful friendships. We are all desiring it, yet we are unsure where to find it.
These places of intentionality are not limited to birthday parties or cookouts but can also include social media platforms and places on the internet as well. I have made some great friends over Instagram, but it was because I reached out and I pursued the friendship myself. Sometimes in order to make friends, we have to get uncomfortable and make that first step. It’s like asking someone out. It’s often awkward at first, but in reality, you are both really excited about it and were anxiously awaiting the ask. We get to be the person that meets the need of friendship in someone’s life who has been anxiously awaiting someone to get the courage to ask. I can think of the people that made the first step for me, both online and offline, and it meant the world to me and I’m still friends with them to this day.
INTENTIONALITY IS THE KEY FACTOR IN HAVING FRIENDSHIPS THAT LAST AND ACTUALLY BRING LIFE TO EACH OF YOU.
Making friends can be scary and intimidating, but this is often the really fun part. This is when you get to learn about one another and find out your commonalities. However, culture tells us that in order to have close friends, we have to have everything in common, and that’s simply not true. We often miss out on some of the best friendships because we discount them solely because they aren’t exactly like us. If we are lonely with just ourselves then why would we chase after friendships with people exactly like us?
During the building phase of friendship, it is so crucial to be realistic with your commitments and with what you can bring to the table as a friend. If you don’t have a lot of time to give, like me, don’t commit to going to breakfast every weekend. There are other ways to grow a friendship than always having to meet in person. You can send an encouraging text message or give them a call on your drive home. It’s important to learn how to incorporate the people you care about into your routine but it doesn’t have to be extravagant. We want to have realistic expectations to avoid becoming burnt out on the friendship.
ONCE YOU REACH FRIENDSHIP STATUS AND THE TWO OF YOU OFFICIALLY CLAIM ONE ANOTHER AS A FRIEND, IT TAKES WORK TO CONTINUE TO FOSTER THAT FRIENDSHIP.
It comes full circle and the same way you made friends is the same way you keep them – you show up. You show up for your friends when they need you and even when they don’t. You allow yourselves to get vulnerable, and you show up as exactly who you are. You celebrate alongside them and become their biggest cheerleader! You become a listening ear. You become their sounding board whenever it’s needed. You show up in whatever capacity they need you, and you show up intentionally.
In my own life, I have a lot of long distant friendships. These are friends that know me, care about me, and love me, but we don’t always get to be there in person for everything. Although there is a distance between us and our friendship looks different, we still choose to foster that relationship. Some simple ways to foster a long-distance friendship is by making a simple phone call or Facetime every so often. You don’t have to speak every day but communication is key in any relationship. A more creative way to continue to show up for your long-distance friends is by sending a gift by mail on those special occasions you may have to miss. This shows that you’re thinking about them, you care about them, and you intentionally thought of a gift to send them.
IT IS NOT AS DIFFICULT AS WE MAKE IT TO CONTINUE GROWING THESE FRIENDSHIPS. AND IN THE END, TAKING THE TIME TO PUT OURSELVES OUT THERE AND BE A FRIEND TO SOMEONE ELSE IS ALWAYS WORTH IT.
*photography by Ben Simms