It’s still true that we get by with a little help from our friends.
So why have so many of us since college discarded them like that Christmas tree freshener under our passenger seat? What used to liven up our lives with pine-needle-fresh — now a piece of highway debris.
In my last post, How Did Making Friends Become So Hard?, I confessed that making and keeping friends post-college has been harder for me than Churck Norris’ abs. (That’s prison-walls-hard people). And from the comments in the previous article it definitely seems I’m not alone (a relief that I have friends with those struggling to find friends!)
For many of us the transition out of college has been ten-car-pile-up scary/gruesome at times. You can’t see, can’t steer, and have no one in the car to help grab the wheel. Because all the friends who used to be in the passenger’s seat have scattered like a dandelion in a hurricane.
So where have all the friendships gone and how do we get them back??
Three Tips to Making and Keeping Friends Post-College
1. Well…Are Friends Still Important?
That’s the first question. Because honestly I think some of us have concluded that in our much-too-busy lives, friends don’t even crack the Top Ten.
As C.S. Lewis wrote:
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”
Sure we “technically” don’t need friends just like we “technically” don’t need a roof over your head. But once life starts pouring some nasty shiz-i-rain, it’s sure nice knowing there is something there to help protect you.
Plus, relationships are the most valuable commodity we have in our 20’s. That job you’ve been praying for, that introduction, that opportunity — is all going to be linked to a friend.
No friends. No freaking chance.
So first we must ask ourselves: Are we willing to pursue this crazylittlething called friendship? Are relationships going to be a priority in our lives? Or are we going to Lone Ranger this thing, the final scene of our lives just you and your horse riding into the sunset?
And while that makes for a kick-booty Hollywood ending, who’s actually going to be in the audience to watch it?
2. Get Involved
In a recent guest article on All Groan Up, Joe Bunting wrote about our generation being afraid to commit to anything. He’s right. We need to get involved. In something. An ultimate Frisbee team, community service, young mom’s support group, polar bears club — whatever we find appealing.
It doesn’t have to be a calendar-hog. Just a once a week, twice a month type thing. Share some new experiences with some new people. And of course I write this as I try to successfully dis-involve myself from any formal or informal group, so I’m going try and take my own advice here.
Both Mike and Megan in the comments on the previous article made an appeal that church can be an amazing place to find substantial, rooted, community. And while I’ve had a love/mild-disdain for church my whole life (years of being a pastor’s kid might explain why), as I look at the friendships that have survived, most if not all, have revolved around some sort of faith-based place. If you’re looking for community, why not try the one that meets in your neighborhood every Sunday?
Plus, I mean, it’s most likely embedded in their religion for them to love you unconditionally. So even all the complete a$$holes reading this write now have a chance at getting invited to Sunday lunch. (Probably explains my faith-friending-success)
3. Pick Up the Damn Phone
Honestly, I struggle at this. I see a friend calling. I want to talk. I need to talk. But as I begin reaching for the “Answer” button, something takes control of my hand, and turns it the other way as my phone slips sadly back into my pocket like a depressed river otter back into his burrow.
That thing that has Jedi-like-control over me? My schedule. My to-do list. My life. My time. Mine, mine, me, me, MEEEEEEE.
Oh yes, the dreaded ME-MONSTER has thwarted many a good relationship, conversation, (and Japanese city). The next time a friend calls, pick up the phone. Slay the ME-MONSTER. Yes there are things on your list that won’t be accomplished. That’s fine.
A conversation with a friend does more to spark your creativity and enthusiasm than five red-bulls combined.
So actually you’re doing yourself a favor by forgetting about yourself for fifteen minutes.
Bonus 4: Pride Comes Before the Friend-Fall
Or even worse, I don’t pick up for a good friend because I simply don’t want to talk about my life. I don’t want to do the ten-minute rundown about all the non-exciting, obstacles, little tangible success details of the last month. Especially if I know the friend on the other line is experiencing more success than I. Terrible I know. Maybe that’s more a guy thing, but I definitely need to combat my Obsessive Comparison Disorder and just pick up the damn phone. Just because I can’t one up my friend doesn’t mean I should hide from them.
Why Can’t We Be Friends…
We need friendships like a reality show needs dysfunctional drama. Friendship is just that important. But it’s not always going to be easy. As one of my favorite bloggerista’s Jamie the Very Worst Missionary writes in a recent post about pursuing a friendship:
“The thing about dating, I mean friending, is that it’s kinda risky. You have to be a little vulnerable, a lot honest, and totally willing to be rejected by the person you’re trying to connect with” ~ Jamie the Very Worst Missionary
Friendships require us to be humble, open, and more….well… us. Friendships force us to be real. live. human. beings. Friendships force us to pull our heads out of our asses once in a while to come out for some fresh air and a drink. And what’s more important than that? Just as you shouldn’t kiss dating goodbye, you shouldn’t say farewell to friending either.
Whether in our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, whenever — friendships don’t lose their value just because we’ve decided we’re too busy for them.
So consider this a collective challenge for you and I both to give friending a chance. What do you say?
Do you have any other tips for making friends?
Need some friendly-inspiration? Watch probably the best TV show intro below to The Wonder Years.