So what’s going on with friendships these days? Why do so many of them lack depth? Are best friends no longer “a thing”? Or are we simply supposed to expect less of relationships when we’re older? I ask this in all sincerity. From experiences in my own life and observations made of many of the people I’ve been surrounded by over the years I’ve seen true adult friendship experienced or engaged in by very few.
I haven’t lived in any other time period other than the millennial age, yet somehow I can’t shake the feeling that there’s supposed to have been more to the depth and quality of the company we keep. Or have people really always been shallow and meaningful friendships hard to come by? Has selfishness always been as rampant as it appears to be in the modern age? Am I the only one bothered by the way things are?
Making friends in primary and secondary school was relatively easy for most of us. It was just what you did. You go to school, learn, and make friends; that’s it really. The friend game becomes trickier around college because most of your high school buddies are studying away or stayed back home and you’re left with the task of creating a whole new posey. Inevitably you find your niche as you build relationships with those in your major, greek club, or athletic pursuit but college inevitably ends and friend after friend scurries off to their prospective corners of the earth. Once full-fledged adulthood hits you an entirely new world lies ahead and it doesn’t include the safety of your childhood friendships or college chill sessions.
At this point a few revelations seem to hit you:
#1 – Very few of the friendships you made in years past have actually stood the test of time.
#2 – It is nearly impossible to make friends as an adult.
#3 – The people you do meet constantly keep you guessing as to whether they have longterm friendship potential or are just people using you for some temporary purpose.
Regarding #1: You begin to wax nostalgic about the good times and wonder why those people you were sure would be around forever have disappeared. How did this happen? “Were they real friendships, after all?”, you might ask yourself. This line of thought could lead you down a windy road of completely redefining “friendship” for you moving forward. You might try to reach out and rekindle a relationship or two, but so much time has passed that you soon realize things will never be the same. You accept that people came and went. C’est la vie.
Regarding #2: You internally scream, “What the heck is up with adults?” It’s like making friends as an adult is taboo or something. Is it not okay to want friends after the age of 22? Are we all supposed to be married or have some deeply established friend group at this point and if we haven’t we’re just out of luck on the social front? I don’t get it, and I’ve started to realize most people my age don’t get it either. Many are super lonely and unsure how to do the whole “adult friend thing” in this modern age. School forced thousands of similarly aged people together in one place day after day, i.e. the perfect recipe for relationship building. The full-time work world of the present day millennial doesn’t offer quite the same convenience. This reality hits hard.
Regarding #3: After accepting that it isn’t going to be easy to make friends as an adult, you meet the challenge and begin putting yourself “back out there”. You do what adults do: Get to know your coworkers, try to meet people your age at church, go out in the city, pick up an athletic pursuit perhaps, etc. And what do you get? Well, I guess it depends. You might make a friend or two who you see when the stars align for both of your schedules. (Hooray for you!) But for many people, you get a whole lot of disappointment over insincere and flaky people.
I’ve known several friends who moved away in adulthood and found the struggle of relationship building to be so difficult that they eventually moved back home or somewhere where college friends had congregated to take comfort in, well, comfort. This proves the power and hold of relationships but it also demonstrates how hard it is to build a social circle in adulthood.
But here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to be this hard! We shouldn’t have to remain in our hometown or move to entirely new regions just to find a place to belong. You should be able to find “your tribe” and build a life anywhere you find yourself, right? But for some reason, doing that is often an uphill climb. We all need each other. We all want and need friends, even if only one or two. Why do we act so sheepish about it? And why do we make it so hard on one another?
Any ideas or thoughts? Feel free to share below. I’ll be bringing Part Two of my “millennial friendship observations” in next weeks blog. Stay tuned!
Real friends are out there,