Why is it more difficult to make friends the older you get - and how can you make it easier?
Gone are the days I could meet a friend out for cocktails, or take a sporadic road trip with. My nights are now compromised of Indian takeout, and a string of perpetual Netflix binging.
Growing up, making friends wasn't difficult. Being naturally outgoing, making new connections was an easy task to accomplish. It was, for lack of a better analogy, as easy as taking a deep breath. However, now that I'm entering into my 30s, that elementary mentality I once possessed is swiftly diminishing. The same can also be said regarding my group of girlfriends.
With most having moved away for work, or settling down with their significant others, I've come to realize my close-knit group of girlfriends has swiftly dwindled. There's also the fact I recently moved to a new city, during a global pandemic, which makes things sightly more complicated. Gone are the days I could meet a friend out for cocktails, or take a sporadic road trip with. My nights are now compromised of Indian takeout, and a string of perpetual Netflix binging.
In other words, I've become Miranda Hobbes incarnate. Which, isn't necessarily a negative factor, but it isn't exactly how I pictured living out my twenties. I've always valued my female friendships, holding them to an incredibly high standard above every other relationship in my life. So, in an effort to make new friends, and break free from my friendless coma, I began doing some online research.
Within moments, I was redirected to a cyber meet-up group, cleverly titled; MeetUp. If you're not already familiar with the site, think of it as a subtler version of Tinder, specifically designed to make new connections, while experiencing new things in your area. I figured it couldn't hurt.
We do everything else online, why not make friends?
With that being said, I ended up joining a few groups, the majority of which consisting of women close within my age range. With the spread of Covid-19, most of the activities transformed into virtual Meetups, which initially was daunting. I had all these fears building up to the actual event, which was a virtual book club meeting to review She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. Initially, I was overwhelmed with anxiety. What if these women didn't like me? What if I didn't like them? Thoughts, which I never spent time considering, were now echoing throughout my mind.
The virtual meeting started off awkwardly, mainly because I was running late and ended up being the last one to join. Once the introductions were complete, the evening continued to feel strained. At one point, I even found myself referring to corny jokes, which-to my dismay; received no appreciation. It was in that precise moment I realized how similar the process was to dating. So similar, the two could easily be mistaken for one another.
However, once we got to discussing the book (which examines the takedown of Harvey Weinstein), and the wine in my glass began to have an effect, the experience became slightly less paralyzing. To my surprise, I quickly discovered most of these women were harboring the exact same insecurities as me.
"I think as we grow older, our inhibitions become more pronounced, and it makes it extremely more difficult for us to create new connections," commented one woman. "It's as though we've transitioned into these emotionally challenged beings."
"Then there's also the fact most of us work extremely long hours, so meeting new people can be somewhat challenging," commented another.
Listening to these women, I couldn't help but resonate with their narratives. It baffles me, because I would never classify myself as an introvert. I've always enjoyed the company of strong and empowered women, but it's the introduction process that occurs beforehand that truly terrifies me. Why should creating lifelong friendships feel daunting? It should feel the opposite.
As the night gradually progressed, and the discussion continued flowing, everyone's personalities began to properly shine through. I like to think of it as the evening's "kumbaya"moment, when everyone placed their wariness in a separate corner, allowing themselves to enjoy the evening. Either that, or everyone's wine had a stronger effect than anticipated. Once there was an adequate amount of alcohol within my system, I began to divulge my own insecurities, discovering they mirrored many of the other individuals.
By the time the evening was finished, I couldn't remember why I had initially been so nervous. At the end of the night, I ended up making a ton of great friends, and no longer felt like a friendless unfortunate. Making new friends shouldn't be a distressing goal to accomplish. When you consider the infinite amount of gender-based injustice women encounter on a daily basis, female friendships should be held at an incredibly high standard. Especially with the success of the Women's March, along with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
But to some, including myself, that isn't always the case. My advice for anyone looking to make new friends; don't put so much thought into it. The longer you spend worrying about the trivialities, the more you'll miss out on making some great memories. I mean, think about it. What's the worse that could happen?