Practice Being A Friend
You may have noticed that 2022 has not been the year of greater connection. We all hoped that after 2020 and 2021, we would see more opportunities to connect with our community and build relationships with other people.The Covid-19 pandemic has separated many from connection with loved ones. You might even feel a little awkward about your social ability as you venture back into the world of extroverts.
How do you talk to people after a couple years of infrequent social circumstances?
How can you make friends when isolation and loneliness seem to dominate life?
Young adults are struggling to make friends. Clients of mine are saying that they have no idea where to begin to build friendships. You want friends but there are multiple things in your mind that tell you friendships are not going to happen. You might think that there are no opportunities to run into people that you would be interested in building a friendship with. You feel like you are awkward or un-inclined to small talk. You feel like a burden when you text people and try to make plans.
I get it. Friendship is hard to find these days. I have made these same excuses as to why I am not thriving in my current friendships.
But then I discovered that it is more simple to make friends than you may have imagined.
If you want to have friends you have to practice being a friend.
Friendship is a type of formation, or even a kind of discipline. Friendship is an identity that we form over a long period of time. Think of it like a career. You do not all of a sudden become a nurse. You have to practice being a nurse, in order to become a nurse.
If you want to become a nurse, you have to do what a nurse does. A nurse shows up at the hospital. A nurse reads up on their books and completes their continuing education units. If you want to be a nurse you have to draw blood, check temperatures, wear scrubs, work weird hours, and have good bedside manner.
If you want to be a friend, you have to do what a friend does.
Friends remember your name. A friend will check in on how your work project is going. A friend will show up when you have something important going on. Friends smile when they see you. Friends give gifts, high fives, thumbs ups, fist pounds, and finger guns.
If you want friends, try practicing being a friend to others. Check up on Mike who works the front desk at your gym. Shoot a smile and introduce yourself to that gal you keep seeing walking in your neighborhood at 5:43pm. Take a tray of chocolate chip cookies to your office cubicle neighbor and say congratulations on that promotion.
These are things that a friend does. These are things that you can do for others. The more you practice being a friend, the more you will notice you are friends with a lot of people.
You may think this sounds too easy, but it really is one of the hardest things you could do. Being a friend for others is vulnerable. Some people will only want to keep the relationship at a head nod when passing one another in the hallway. That is ok!
For every one person who is uninterested in forming friendships with you there is another person who is longing for a friend. They feel lonely. They think that they are too awkward to talk to someone. They feel like a burden when they reach out to someone in a text. These folks need a friend just as much as you do.
If you practice being a friend to others you will find that others will be a friend to you.
Which leads to the ultimate question:
If you truly want a friend, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to practice being a friend?