Making Friends in Your Twenties vs. High School

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My question exactly, Liz. (via)

I used to think making friends in my twenties was so much harder than in high school because I’m just a homebody-introvert, how do I even meet people? I don’t know how to interact with people who haven’t been my friends for ten years! 

It seemed so much easier in high school since you're stuck in a building with all these people all day, eventually, someone's going to be around you enough to slowly grow into friends. In the adult world, you have to make an effort to get together with friends. That's hard enough to do with my close friends already. Making plans with someone you don't know well sounds so awkward and, like in every aspect of adult life, first impressions suddenly matter. In high school, people were going to be around you enough, whether in the same classes or in the same large friend group, to see what you're really like to be around. A first impression wasn't your last impression. My first impression in high school was usually perceived as "bitch" due to my resting bitch face, introvert nature, and social anxiety. People just assumed that I was looking at them with a judgmental expression and not speaking because I didn't like them. However, every single one of my friends I made in high school said to me at some time "I thought you were a total bitch when I first met you." I'm not sure if my first impression now reflects my true personality better. I'm no longer paralyzed with social anxiety when meeting someone new, but I am still generally quiet and forget polite social cues. I've gotten better at the small talk thing, at least, so I can share a friendly smile and comment about the weather to show them I'm a nice person open to nice social interactions.

I feel like in high school, I didn't so much make friends with other girls as other girls made friends with me. I was just quietly floating around school and once in a while a girl and her friends would pull me into their group, or a new girl would come over to join our group and thus friendship began. Out in the adult world, people are not wandering around looking to make friends and picking up cool-looking girls to be friends with. This probably isn't a problem for extraverts who go around making friends with every person they walk past on the street, but we introverts will only be able to consider friendship if forced together with someone like a school or work environment. The only friends I've made in my 20's have been co-workers. And even with being in close proximity, talking to each other everyday, it took months and months before a friendship blossomed.

As hopeless as that all makes it seem, I have discovered one big change that means making friends in my twenties is actually way better than in high school. I realized the biggest difference between 20-something me and high-school me is self confidence. I have shed my teenage depression, insecurities, and (most of my) social anxieties. Making friends in my 20’s is awesome because I know how awesome I am. I don’t hold back on my personality, gushing over my passions and interests, or worry about impressing anyone. I am free to be my true self from the beginning which means I’ll know right away if this person is the right fit for me and likes me for who I am.

What's the point in being anything but 100% you, anyway? You're not going to attract the right people into your life, if they're making friends with someone who isn't really you. "Just be yourself" can be so frustrating to hear sometimes, especially if you're dealing with stuff like depression and anxiety. I hope if you're dealing with stuff that makes you feel that you have to hold back, that you can take my advice when I say that being yourself is so much easier, happier, more fun, and less stressful that holding up any kind of façade.

The other reason making friends now is worry-free is that I already have a tight group of friends who have been my friends since high school, so I feel no need to make new friends. That’s not to say I’m not open to making new friends. It’s just that knowing I’m already set in the BFF department makes meeting new people less scary. I don’t need you to like me, but if we get along then that’s awesome! New friends are awesome!

Our twenty-something lives are nothing like our high school lives, so making friends isn't going to be the same either. There is hope for us, though. As long as you do you, people who are compatible will be down with that, and before you know it, you'll have so many friends you won't know what to do with them! (Seriously, with four BFFs, I sometimes just cannot keep track of what we're all doing together.)

Tishpersonal, Writing