When did learning how to make friends become so hard?
If you are stuck wondering why everyone else seems to be on a different planet to you, and wish that other women were as open to making new friendships as you are – you NEED to read on.
Friendships between women are incredibly important.
Friendship fulfills the need that women have to feel connected, included and part of something bigger than themselves.
Friendship is also a key factor in helping women to overcome social anxiety. Knowing that someone always has your back is a massive confidence boost.
If you’re anything like me, I took my friendships for granted for a lot of my life.
I’m about to tell you a story from 15 years ago – it’s about how I learned the value of friendships, because for a time, I had none.
When I was 21 I moved to a new city. The city was Sydney and I had moved there for work, having just graduated from my Communications degree from the University of Newcastle.
I was a Newcastle girl through and through.
I had actually grown up in a little town called Raymond Terrace, which is about 30 minutes north of Newcastle.
But I considered Newcastle – anywhere in Newcastle – to be home, as this was where I felt comfortable.
I never had any trouble making friends.
And the friends I made were always loyal with minimal drama.
I kept friendships long-term as well.
The best friend I made in the 2nd-grade was still the best friend that I had at age 21.
And then I moved to Sydney.
And everything changed.
To be fair, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the huge change that awaited me as I moved a mere 2 hours south.
I moved in with my (now ex) boyfriend, also a journalist.
He was lovely, but he liked his anonymity.
The city suited him down to the ground.
He took to the city life immediately.
I could tell that this was where he belonged.
Me on the other hand – I felt desperate and alone.
We lived in a 10-storey apartment building.
There was a (minimum) of 10 apartments on each floor.
That’s a minimum of 100 apartments, for those playing at home.
The neighbours never spoke to one another.
NEVER. Not ever.
Not in the lift.
Not in the shared coin-operated laundry.
Not when passing one another up or down the stairs.
Not when passing in the hallway.
Not at the mailboxes.
It was like living in a vortex – where you could SEE other people but physically couldn’t interact with them.
The one positive thing about our living location (apart from the view of Sydney Harbour – I still miss that view) was the fact that it was very close to the train station.
And, once on the train, it was only 3 stops to get to my new place of work.
I’d worked in several part-time jobs before my first full-time, post-uni job – but this was a whole new ballgame.
The office was set out in a feng shui layout. No sharp corners.
People had to sit facing the corner that would make them most productive.
But the thing I learned VERY quickly was this:
EVERYONE was in competition with one another.
It was impossible to know how to make friends in this environment.
And the last Friday of the month was like the real-life Hunger Games, as someone was always bound to be “made redundant”.
(Made redundant = taken into an office, fired for not bringing enough money into the company, and then given a cheque to shut up and not pursue unfair dismissal action).
This climate of competition led to a culture of backstabbing and distrust of everyone we worked with.
Information was treated like currency and shared only with those “in the know”.
I’m surprised I lasted there for two years – I’m even more surprised that I did manage to make several lasting friendships from that horrible, horrible job.
But in the end, I did.
It was hard.
For the longest time, I felt like I was on a different planet to every other human being.
I felt like I was surrounded by robots who were so absorbed in their own lives, that they wouldn’t have room for someone like me.
And I felt like a lost little girl.
I felt young, and stupid and naïve, for the first time in my entire life.
I wondered if and how and when would I find someone – anyone – who was similar to me in ANY way.
Someone who was even interested in eating lunch with me.
It became pretty obvious, pretty quickly that none of the guys in the workplace were interested in being friends with me.
Once they knew I had a boyfriend they were gone.
Whatever, I didn’t want more male friends anyway.
I wanted female friends.
For the first time in my life, I felt the void that comes with having no female friends.
I would walk around the city at lunch time, and I would see groups of women meeting for lunch, just sitting and chatting.
I felt jealous, and resentful, and like something was wrong with me.
But most of all, I thought “How could I get a group of female friends like that?”
“Or even just one single female friend? Someone who I just mesh with, really easily?”
Sydney is a huge city – surely there must be someone who wants to be my friend?
In the end, it turned out there were people who were just like me.
Several, in fact.
I did make some very good friends, but I also learned some valuable lessons in the meantime.
Above all, I learned the value that solid, reliable female-to-female friendship brings.
It goes beyond the simple question of how to make friends, and into developing a relationship that truly enriches your life, makes it easier to cope with day to day demands and gives you feelings of belonging and support.
So how did I do it?
First of all, I never gave up.
I never settled for less.
And I never fell in with a group of friends that I didn’t quite mesh with, just to fit in.
Sure – I met lots of different people and connected with them on different levels, but it was only the very rare ones that I felt that unique soul connection with.
And I felt that soul connection quite quickly upon meeting the people that I did end up building strong friendships with.
In fact, I’m pretty sure that I knew within 10 minutes of meeting someone new, whether they were a lifetime friend or not.
Most of the time they weren’t.
And that was ok.
I didn’t want to be friends with EVERYONE – I just wanted to find and connect with the people who were right for ME.
Because of this, I didn’t waste time trying to pursue friendships that weren’t right for me.
I sized up pretty quickly who I did and didn’t connect with, and it was pretty easy to follow up with them from there.
It felt natural.
If it didn’t feel natural, I wouldn’t pursue it.
So that meant – for a while there, it was a pretty lonely old time for me.
And even though I didn’t feel it at the time – this was a good thing.
I wasn’t wasting time trying to pursue friendships that weren’t for my highest good.
I wasn’t messing about with giving people chance after chance after chance – hoping they would magically morph into somebody I could develop a deep friendship with.
And above all, I wasn’t having the energy drained out of me by pretending to be someone I really wasn’t.
My job was draining enough as it was – I would go to work, come home, eat dinner and SLEEP.
I had never been so exhausted in my life.
Turns out that my job and the toxic work environment was sucking the energy out of me – but that’s a blog post for another day!
So I didn’t have the left-over energy to go about trying to pursue friendships that weren’t right for me.
I became a very good judge of character, very quickly.
At the time, I didn’t feel that I was.
At the time, I felt lost, desperate and alone.
But looking back, I am so glad that I had to make those quick snap judgments based on how I FELT about other women, because it meant that I conserved my energy and only pursued friendships that really felt right for me.
It wasn’t hard, because I didn’t let it be hard.
The hardest part was the loneliness.
But looking back, I’m glad I was so picky.
It can be tough to remind yourself that being choosy is the best way, my Butterfly.
Especially when the loneliness does creep in.
I can’t even tell you how ALONE I felt in that city of 4 million people.
So I completely understand if you are feeling alone, and lonely too.
I totally “get” that feeling of being isolated – like you’re the only type of your own species, amongst a sea of robots who only see what they want to see in you.
But it’s important here that you really get to know WHO you are, AS YOU ARE, and don’t try to change, just to fit in.
This is an absolute MISTAKE that so many people make when they are trying to form new friendships.
The biggest mistake is: Putting the other person, the potential friend FIRST.
And trying to be the person that SHE wants you to be.
Believe me – you can LIKE someone, and think that they are REALLY COOL – but if you are not compatible as friends, there is no way that you can change to try and make it work.
So my best advice with that is – don’t even try.
You need to get really honest about who YOU are, and what You value.
And seek out like-minded people who have either the SAME values, or complimentary values.
Complimentary values just means that their values will support yours – even if they aren’t exactly the same.
For example – You can be right into reading murder mysteries. In fact, you could read, breathe and sleep the stuff.
That doesn’t mean that you need a friend who likes to READ murder mysteries.
But if would be good if she is a great LISTENER – who loves to listen about the books you are reading.
She doesn’t need to be a mirror-image of you.
But she needs to be supportive and complimentary to you.
And my best advice here is – don’t settle.
Don’t waste your time trying to fit in with other people, or trying to make them fit you.
You are you.
She is she.
If you and she mesh well – that is great.
If not, keep the faith that you will find that complimentary soul connection soon.
The waiting can be hard.
Waiting to find the soul connection I talk about, when you are surrounded by faceless robots, is depressing.
There’s no two ways about it.
And you can lose faith in your ability to even find and make new friendships in the first place.
You can question who you are, and what you stand for.
And you can also fall into the trap of feeling that you are unlikeable, or that something is very wrong with you.
All sorts of dark feelings can creep in when you feel alone.
This is why it’s really important to anchor yourself in the things that you value – that is, the things that you find important.
Things such as – loyalty, family, trust, laughter.
You will have your own values – things that really define who you are and what you stand for.
It’s important that you know what these are and don’t compromise on them.
If you don’t know what your values are and feel lost about where to begin, here is a list to help you.
Simply circle the things that you feel strongly about.
Remember: This list isn’t about what you are looking for in a friend – it’s 100% about YOU.
So here goes:
Remember: There is no right or wrong in any of the above – approach this exercise of identifying your values as an opportunity to learn about yourself with perfect self-love and non-judgment.
Knowing who YOU are at your deepest level, will attune you to attract the right female friends into your life, and will help you to be able to recognise a soul connection when you get one.
Love + light
PS – If you liked this blog post, you’ll love How to overcome fear