Friendship can feel extremely coincidental, and in large part, it is. We meet people in school or at work, and they become our friends before long. This is because we see these people on a daily basis and have longer exposure to them. If they quit or move on, they probably don’t remain close friends. While friendships are necessary to be happy and feel supported, there are some people you might naturally find yourself inclined to converse or interact with. It is not to be assumed that we will get along with every person we work with or go to school with. Even those we connect with can be a different kind of friend than what is wanted or needed.
Lessons from People
When people come into our lives, they enter for a reason. People are in your life to teach you lessons, and unfortunately, the most important lessons come from the most challenging people. Perhaps you have a strained relationship with your mother. Instead of focusing on the emotions of all the terrible things she has done, focus on the lesson you need to learn. Perhaps the lesson is how to set boundaries, be authentically you, stand up for yourself, etc. There are many reasons why a challenging person shows up, and it is almost always for your growth.
The Presentation of Friendship
When a friend presents themselves in your life, you get to decide if they should have a position in your life or not. You are ultimately the best evaluator of the kind of friends you want to have, but here are a couple things to look for in a friend if you run out of ideas.
Identify someone with similar values. This will likely automatically occur as we naturally become friends with those who reflect our own characteristics. When choosing a friend, don’t be afraid to try new things with them. Friendship is about finding companionship, so no matter what you like to do, push outside of that comfort zone with them. When we share ourselves openly, we feel more connected to the person we have shared with. If you don’t feel like there is much connection within your friendship or other relationships, consider opening up and sharing vulnerably with the other person. You will likely feel much more connected to this person as a result. You will likely feel the same if they share openly with you. In the early stages of your friendship, look for aspects of their personality you enjoy and aspects you might see as something you don’t want in your life. The decision on who you let into your life or not is entirely up to you. Stand firm in your decision by listening to your gut instinct.
Friends carry so much value in our lives. When we struggle, our best friends are there alongside us, sitting through the pain and discomfort. If you don’t feel like you can be genuine with a friend you have chosen, consider what they add to your life and question why they are still there. Most people will evaluate and conclude that they have no idea why they are here. Instead, push past the “I don’t know” answer and find the reason that you are continuing the relationship. There is always a reason for the people in our lives. What is theirs?
Often, we identify friends as those who stand up for us in times of confrontation or hardship. Personally, I do not determine a friend as someone who stands up for me as I am capable of doing so myself. Instead, I look for friends who can provide insight and feedback while being loving and kind. If you don’t have a friend who can give it to you straight, then you have an absence in your life without even realizing it. The fact is, everyone, needs that person to say, “Hey, what do you think you are doing?” These are the best kind of friends as they expect you to do the same thing for them, cultivating a win-win kind of relationship.
Technology and Socializing
We live in an age of technological takeover. As a result, most of us consider human interaction and freeze like a deer in headlights. I can’t say Covid has really contributed to the overcoming of this issue. While there are many ways to make friends causally, it now just feels awkward to go up to someone in a coffee shop and introduce yourself unless you are forcing religion down the other person’s throat or looking for a friend with benefits. While interacting with people can be awkward at first, a simple conversation where you might run into this person consistently is a good place to start. Join apps that promote socializing if you don’t really go out or are too busy with work or school. Dating apps work for this, but other apps only connect individuals seeking to be friends. Joining clubs or gyms might help with socializing as well. There are many clubs that can be joined that promote pretty much every activity ever. Joining something that will force some social interaction might help you meet people you wouldn’t have typically run into.
The more you put yourself out there, the higher the likelihood of meeting a friend is. The best practice in finding true friendship is showing up as authentically as possible. Don’t fake it to impress someone else because that won’t provide an authentic relationship. Find things to do tighter you think would be fun and exciting. If you don’t know how to start a conversation, rely on some humor to lighten the mood a little. The other person might be just as nervous as you. While this article focuses on friendships, any of these steps can be applied to relationships of any kind. Getting to know people is a challenge, but the more you put yourself out there, the more comfortable you will be the next time around.