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Making new friends as an adult

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  • #105771
    John
    Participant

    Hello everyone!

    I am relatively new to the forums, but not new to Tiny Buddha. This site has helped me get through some incredibly difficult times. I am a recent college graduate. During the past four years, I often struggled socially. I definitely have a few good friends, but I’m not quite sure I ever gained that big group of college friends in the typical sense. I could go on, and on, (and on), about how allowing my personal inhibitions to get the best of me is sincerely my biggest regret, but this site has shown me it is much better to focus on the present.

    With that in mind, I have decided to take a leap of faith. I hope to start a new adventure on a clean slate in a new city by early September. I was wondering if anyone would be able to provide me with some tips on how to make a solid group of friends as an adult (ie. what settings, where, how, etc.), and also how to talk to others more easily.

    Peace and love to all.

    #105787
    Gary R. Smith
    Participant

    Hello John,

    What do you feel has been missing from your friendships?

    How would you like your new friendships to look – what would be the characteristics or attributes of the friendships?

    How would you describe a friend?

    How can you be a good friend to someone?

    What are your passions and interests to share with friends?

    Let’s talk about this…. Just if you want, and responding to whatever question or questions you feel.

    Gary

    #105790
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear John:

    For the purpose of a new beginning, a clean slate, you will have to deal with the past; with those “personal inhibitions”- not drown in them, but get to know them just enough so to identify them as they show up in your new beginning and then disengage from them.

    There is a difference between endlessly ruminating over inhibitions and detecting when they show up and disengaging from them.

    Whatever situations triggered those inhibitions in the past will trigger them in the future regardless of intent. If you’d like to post here about an inhibition, stating it as shortly as you want, circumstances when triggered, we can go from there.

    anita

    #105796
    Gary R. Smith
    Participant

    GROWTH

    “Deep within every life, no matter how dull or ineffectual it may seem from the outside, there is something eternal happening. This is the secret way that change and possibility conspire with growth. John Henry Newman summed this up beautifully when he said, “To grow is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often.” Change, therefore, need not be threatening; it can in fact bring our lives to perfection. Perfection is not cold completion. Neither is it avoidance of risk and danger in order to keep the soul pure or the conscience unclouded. When you are faithful to the risk and ambivalence of growth, you are engaging your life. The soul loves risk; it is only through the door of risk that growth can enter.” – John O’Donohue / Excerpt from ANAM CARA

    #105934
    John
    Participant

    Thanks for your quick response! You’re right, I do need to deal with the past before moving ahead. Apologies in advance for the long post:

    To say the least, I have had a pretty good life. I grew up in a stable household, we never had a ton of money, but we also never had to really worry about money or internal family conflict. My parents are both well-educated individuals that originally immigrated to the United States from India. Looking back over my life, my parents taught me a lot about the importance of academics…even in first grade I’d walk around saying I wanted to go to Harvard (side note: I did not go to Harvard). But it seems that somewhere over the years, I lost myself. I can’t quite say my parents taught me a lot about making new friends, having a social life and really just having fun. (Whenever we did talk about being social, it would only be after I, rather unwillingly, would tell them about issues I was having). Being so focused on academics ultimately led me to become rather introverted and reserved. I vaguely remember a few key incidents, maybe in elementary and middle school when I tried to be a little more outgoing, but ultimately led to some awkward situations. I was never really the strongest kid and was picked on a little bit in my younger days. Perhaps subconsciously, these factors led to me being so reserved, and to avoid any slightly embarrassing or awkward situations.

    I played a few sports and instruments here and there, but never got overly involved with anything. Not getting more involved with sports and the performing arts continues to be one of my biggest regrets. I was involved in clubs/organizations in both high school and college, but never really had much of an outlet socially or otherwise. Looking back over the years, I now believe that being so focused on academics took its toll. I’ve really only recently realized that “social health” really is so important and can have implications on other parts of your life. The lack of having much to do beyond academics ultimately caused me to become frustrated very quickly with my schoolwork. I did okay in college at the end of the day, but feel I could have done better if I had a social outlet. There were so many Friday and Saturday nights in college that I spent quietly, with either just a few roommates or on my own. I do have at least a few solid friends I made in college and great memories of going out with them, so that is something. I never really joined any of the more social-oriented clubs in college, another regret of mine. In large part I think this was because I was just so worried about what other people would think of me, and because I feared being judged or rejected. I’m not sure I would even have much to talk about. I also lived in a rather anti-social building my first two years of college, though this was not really a conscious choice.

    It is not uncommon for there to be large circles of family friends in the Indian community. The kids of the families in these circles are generally good friends with each other, grow up together, and continue to remain friends. I don’t quite think I had that growing up. There was also a large indian social club in my college, which going in I wanted to get really involved with for that reason, to have a significant Indian friend group. Something always stopped me from getting involved though, largely from a fear of putting myself out there. By the time I realized I was holding myself back from so much, maybe my sophomore year, I still didn’t go to any of their events thinking I had missed my chance.

    At the end of the day, I desire a large group of friends, Indian and otherwise. I want a group of guys to hangout with, drink a few beers, watch football and basketball, and really just be “one of the guys”. But…I really know nothing about sports. I want a group of guys and girls to hit the town with, grab some drinks, go out to dinner, etc. Side note, but I am really into wedding photography and enjoy looking at blog of various photographers in this industry. I often see large groups of friends at these weddings, presumably from college. Thoughts that often enter my head include “I don’t have such a friend group from college…am I ever gonna get invited to these types of weddings? Who will come to my wedding when I get married?” I think these thoughts largely stem from lacking a solid group of both childhood and college friends, again both Indian and otherwise.

    Gary, to answer your questions a bit more specifically:

    What do you feel has been missing from your friendships?: My roommates (3 other guys) from college were a great group with which I could hangout and just be goofy with. Most of my other friendships (people I met in class, extracurriculars, etc.) never really seemed to get past the surface. I’d like to have more people to hang out with. To be honest, I always felt a little different from other kids and never quite felt like “one of the guys”
    How would you like your new friendships to look – what would be the characteristics or attributes of the friendships? As I said earlier, in a perfect world, I want to be one of the guys. I want to have friends with which to discuss serious issues, but also relax with, be a little crazy with, go out to lunch/dinner on the weekends, bar-hopping, etc.
    How would you describe a friend? A friend is someone you can talk to about matters both serious and personal, someone you can rely on in a time of need. A friend is also someone you can just share a good laugh with and do fun things together.
    How can you be a good friend to someone? I believe I can be a good friend just by reciprocating the things above.
    What are your passions and interests to share with friends? I WANT to be into sports. As of right now though, I really do enjoy exploring new places, being outdoors, trying new restaurants.

    I apologize again for the long rant and the somewhat unorganized post. I just had a lot I needed to get off my chest. I know I am just a recent grad, and I still have many years ahead. But, I want to enjoy these next few years more than I did in the past. I really do look forward to closing this chapter, and opening a new, more satisfying why. As of right now, I just feel very unfulfilled.

    Thank you in advance!!! I truly appreciate it.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 9 months ago by John.
    #105942
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear John:

    Reading your post, this is my feel/ my understanding: those groups of friends you looked at from the outside all these years, not feeling one of them, the thoughts and images of belonging in those kinds of groups and doing the things you described doing feels like a dream come true, doesn’t it? Something you intenesly want to do, to make up for all the lonely times of being outside wanting to be in the In crowd. Isn’t it so?

    Thing is, and bear with me as I am thinking while typing, it can’t be done. This is fantasy at this point, or way too much fantasy is in these thoughts and images. I read and heard way too many stories by members of the In crowd, or should I say; people you think are of the In Crowd, who have miserable or very challenging experiences in groups.

    Looking at them from the outside, you imagine it differently than it actually is from the inside.

    So, I am thinking: not a good idea to try to duplicate your own fantasy of how you think it is in the In crowd. I am all for you increasing your social skills, making friends, but do it your own way, making your way as you go.

    Your starting point, I believe, should be YOU, who you are, introverted and all, and take it from there. Your starting point should not be the fantasy of how it looked from the outside looking in.

    What do you think?

    anita

    #105950
    John
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Yes, you would be right in saying that belonging in those kinds of groups really would feel like a dream come true, and that I would like to make up for all the times of being outside. I understand that at this point it is fantasy. However, when you say it can’t be done, do you mean this can’t be done in the future, or that I am simply looking too much into the past? I agree that things are often not what they seem and that the grass isn’t really greener.

    I realize it is important to be “you.” But the thing is, the person I desire to be and the person I am are not exactly the same person. I desire to be extroverted and more outgoing. With the starting point being me, and not the fantasy of being inside, how would you suggest I proceed?

    Many thanks!

    #105951
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear John:

    i see people trying to capture missed opportunities of the past and it makes me cringe to see the misery that results, the disappointments. I don’t think it works, to make up in the future for what was lacking in the past. Can’t make up lost time, sadness and loneliness. What is lost, is lost. This is what I mean by it can’t be done.

    Let’s say you join an acting class now- that could be a great opportunity to extrovert (as a verb, just made it up) yourself a bit. When you are in that class, every time you focus on being liked by the others in the class; every time you find yourself .. dreaming to be one of the group, correct yourself, say to yourself: this ship has sailed. Focus instead on what is in the present, right there. See yourself as the most important to you person in that class, not as someone desperate to be part of a group. Operate as an individual.

    I am finding it difficult to explain myself right now. Let’s see… in an acting class setting (or in any group) do not lose yourself in efforts to belong- big mistake.

    Let me know if I am making any sense to you. If not, or otherwise, i will be glad to return to your blog tomorrow morning, my time (USA) with a fresher brain…

    anita

    #105952
    Gary R. Smith
    Participant

    {{Looking back over the years, I now believe that being so focused on academics took its toll.}}

    John, that is a clear insight. It rings true. Not that I can say what is for you, but you recognize it yourself and I have seen the same happen to others who lost much of their strength and confidence and connection with their spiritual nature by focusing on academics. Those qualities are not lost, of course. They are just hidden from view, layered over by intellectual academia. They can be re-gained by focusing on other values. I suggest that you reserve uninterrupted time for deeper reflection on what is important to you and such questions as, ‘Who and what are you, really?’

    {{What do you feel has been missing from your friendships?: My roommates (3 other guys) from college were a great group with which I could hangout and just be goofy with. Most of my other friendships (people I met in class, extracurriculars, etc.) never really seemed to get past the surface. I’d like to have more people to hang out with. To be honest, I always felt a little different from other kids and never quite felt like “one of the guys”}}

    There is nothing ‘wrong’ with being different. Again I cannot speak for you, and am coming from my own experience of being very different from my family and classmates all through school. People who have been labeled ‘too sensitive’, ‘overly focused’ or introverted can learn through a self-test if they actually are among ‘Highly Sensitive People’ – a term coined by Dr. Elaine Aron who wrote “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You.” About 15 to 20 percent of the population, HSP are hardwired differently – with an inherited trait and sensitive nervous system. Carl Jung originally called the trait “innate sensitiveness”
    http://hubpages.com/health/Highly-Sensitive-People-the-gifts-and-challenges-of-this-inherited-trait

    {{How would you like your new friendships to look – what would be the characteristics or attributes of the friendships? As I said earlier, in a perfect world, I want to be one of the guys. I want to have friends with which to discuss serious issues, but also relax with, be a little crazy with, go out to lunch/dinner on the weekends, bar-hopping, etc.}}

    We could have some discussions about how quality relationships are started and formed. I don’t have experience with bar-hopping. The most significant story from my life is the meeting of my life partner and me. It was through psychic predictions, following intuition, and lots of synchronicity. If you would like to read the story, it is http://hubpages.com/health/Is-Destiny-Real

    {{How would you describe a friend? A friend is someone you can talk to about matters both serious and personal, someone you can rely on in a time of need. A friend is also someone you can just share a good laugh with and do fun things together.}}

    I have accepted that so long as I am true to myself, I won’t have many casual friends for doing fun things together with. But it is enough to have a wonderful life partner and our Siberian Husky, Aura, for doing fun things. Your needs may be different at this time in your life. I am not the one to advise, as I separated myself from others socially from an early age. For years it was painful, but later in life I came to feel very well with the natural isolation. I have many friendly interactions with people in daily life. One occurred yesterday, when I brought Aura into the patio area of a coffee shop. Aura would not cross the tiled floor and I carried her through the shop. She is a rescue, and seems to have had some bad experience from that past or is confused by the tile patterns. A woman had a Husky with her, and she and my partner and I had a marvelous spontaneous conversation. When we got up to go, she offered her dog, Echo, as a helper to Aura to walk across the tiled floor. He encouraged her and she made it on her own to the cheers of workers and customers. That type of experience enriches life. We may meet the woman and Echo in the park sometime or that may not happen, but the moment is one I will always remember. If this has a point that applies to you, it may be to relax, enjoy the magic of what life offers, be ready to open up to opportunities that present themselves. You will attract people by the energy, the vibes you emanate.

    {{How can you be a good friend to someone? I believe I can be a good friend just by reciprocating the things above.}}

    Reciprocating is good. Consider to give out first, without expectation of return. Give of yourself, your gifts and qualities. Show interest, caring and compassion (with appropriate boundaries and awareness.) With no expectation, there will be no disappointment. Cultivate compassion. Strengthen your inner core and be true to yourself in all situations.

    {{What are your passions and interests to share with friends? I WANT to be into sports. As of right now though, I really do enjoy exploring new places, being outdoors, trying new restaurants.}}

    Do you really want to be into sports, or do you want to feel a belonging that you think will come by being into sports? I was never into sports and have never felt it lessened me or my life experience. I have had a rich and rewarding life with many outstanding adventures, without interest in sports. At first, again, there was a feeling of isolation. I pretended interest, but had to stop in order to be true to myself. I attended an Atlanta Braves game with my company, and was so bored I got up and walked out. That kind of thing happened over and over until I realized there was no sense in pretending. I am what I am and am happy with that. That is my experience, not yours. I am not suggesting you give up on sports, but to reflect deeply and honestly about your motives for wanting to be into sports. Above all, be true to yourself.

    {{I apologize again for the long rant and the somewhat unorganized post. I just had a lot I needed to get off my chest. I know I am just a recent grad, and I still have many years ahead. But, I want to enjoy these next few years more than I did in the past. I really do look forward to closing this chapter, and opening a new, more satisfying why. As of right now, I just feel very unfulfilled.}}

    No need to apologize. Glad you got it off your chest. There is more to share. Tell me, if you want, about your spiritual life or your interest in personal development/emotional mastery.

    Best,

    Gary

    #105977
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear John:

    What you wrote earlier, that can be done is this: ” I desire to be and the person I am are not exactly the same person. I desire to be extroverted and more outgoing.” This is a good aim, an authentic aim. The way not leading to this aim would be any kind of pretending: pretenting to be interested in sports; pretending to be …anything that you are not so to fit in a group. Children may do anything to fit in a group but being an adult and doing anything to fit in, that is a regression, not part of making a better life for yourself.

    To be more extroverted, start with the friends you do have, express yourself more, your feelings, your motivations, including your desire to be more extroverted. You start the ball rolling this way. When you meet a new person, communicate differently than you did before. Say something personal, express yourself more boldly than before. Nothing massive, just some. Ask the other person a question or two that you wouldn’t normally ask. To be more extroverted, you do that slowly, gradually, in small increments. This is how change in behavior is done. You make a little change, it is often uncomfortable. This is why you start small and evaluate: how did it work? And you keep going.

    You will know what to do in ten weeks because at that point you have made some changes and you will not be then at the same introverted place where you are now. In your quest to be extroverted, you see a short distance in front of you and take it a step at a time.

    anita

    #105988
    Gary R. Smith
    Participant

    John,

    Another story from my life came to mind to share with you.

    In elementary school a neighbor boy and I became friends and started doing things together. Then his family moved overseas and we were pen-pals. When he returned, things changed. His interests went to sports and rodeo. I was radically different and spoke against the treatment of horses as objects and possessions. I was always the last to be picked for school sports teams, even though I put my heart into it for awhile (probably to belong.) I was just not naturally attracted to sports or competition.

    I was into Buddhism, metaphysics and the occult throughout high school. My former friend was into football, dating, and things cowboy. He had zero interest in the spiritual, and I had zero interest in football, but we had some good talks while camping under the stars. I persuaded him to jump from a plane with me, and we had one parachuting experience together. In the week after h.s. graduation, I drove him to Rocky Mountain National Park. From there he hitch-hiked to California. I got a ride to Maine and traveled the east coast. He went into the Airborne Rangers and was in the presidential honor guard, while I worked with a wildlife photographer and naturalist and protested the Vietnam War. But we somehow kept in contact over the years.

    45 years later, we still have contact. We are so unlike each other and seemingly have little in common, yet there is a bond of friendship between us that grows stronger while separated by thousands of miles. We have deep respect and caring for each other. He has turned his interests to meditation and the spiritual, and we both would like to camp again and talk together under the stars – before our 70th birthdays.

    I am just saying, sometimes, oftentimes in my experience, life has different ideas than we about how things will emerge. I have learned to let go of my ideas of how anything ‘has to be’ and allow what wants to happen to emerge. That applies to everything in life, including making and having friends. I like the suggestions of the other participant to make small steps to be more extroverted, and add a suggestion to not have expectations or strong ideas of how the results have to look. Does that make sense to you?

    #169052
    John
    Participant

    Hi Anita and Gary,

    I know it has been quite some time. Thank you again for your time and feedback o help me out. I have been having a variety of issues/worries that have been endlessly ruminating in my head recent weeks (perhaps a bit of a quarter-life crisis?). I have been reflecting a lot, and wanted someone to share and discuss these thoughts with. Would it be possible to start up a discussion again? Please let me know if you think it might be more appropriate to start a new topic.

    Peace and love,

    John

    #169118
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear John:

    Welcome back to your thread. It will be fine with me if you post here on your thread or start a new one, either way. Looking forward to reading from you.

    anita

    #169485
    quackingphilosopher
    Participant

    Good day, John.

    I am really really proud of you that you have decided to step out of your comfort zone and make new friends!

    All the best in your endeavors. We are all cheering for you.

    Let your story empower others.

    Do not let fear touch your heart, and surround yourself with the veil of confidence for being who you truly are.

    Yours sincerely,

    Junna.

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