A woman writes that she seems to have lost the knack for making friends and is feeling isolated in the world. After reading about her lack of friends, I began to wonder. Might the growing advancement in technology be affecting the way we interrelate and form relationships? If we were to look closely, it's not difficult to imagine people feeling less connected to the world, even those of us who do embrace technology.
Numerous letters have come in from women saying they are having a difficult time making and or keeping friends. People used to rely on one another more when they were out in the world, didn't they? They would ask for directions, start up casual conversation, speak freely to random strangers...that was the norm. And in turn, they felt a sense of connection, and the possibility of getting to know someone. All of us seemed a bit more connected out in the world a decade ago than we do now. We spoke up in lines, looked people in the eye, and carried on conversations. Good, bad or indifferent, it's true.
Whether we realize it or not, it appears some of the standard life behavior we've known for decades has begun to fade. A sense of community, you know, the comfort and familiarity of the life around us feels less, as we create a more insular kind of life. It's standard operating procedure these days to be able to shop, chat with friends on FaceBook, watch a movie, peruse a bookstore, buy a book, read it, order meals, …all from the comfort of our own home, where some of us are alone.
What can one do to nurture and find friendship in today's ever-changing world? First, I'm going to say if indeed you are feeling less adept at making friends, and keeping them, you are not alone. There are hundreds of people writing and claiming the exact same situation.
In fact, another woman who wrote in explained that after a long bout of denial she was ready to be honest and ask for help. She finds herself incapable of making and maintaining friendships, and is lonely and feeling depressed. She signed her letter, "Miss Interpreted". Another woman, same predicament, signed, "I guess I talk too much." And another: "No one's friend."
Here is what I say: I love it that people are speaking up and making an effort. We have the power to do this, make a change in ourselves, or our lives and go for what we want, especially when it comes to human relationships. If you really want something you have to figure out what you can do to get it. If you aren't dialed in to the computer world and want to be, ask around, take a class and get on it. If you don't want to, don't. But look at yourself and try to see what it is you might need to do, to step up and find friendship. The greatest tip that I can give is to tell you to keep yourself out there and open to people in the world. Talk to people. Ask questions, make yourself available to bring something into your world.
If indeed you feel the need to work on your social skills, do it. If you need to come out of your shell and show more of yourself, do it! If you need to learn to listen, and stop talking so much, do that! If you simply need to make more of an effort to engage in your community, which is the life around you, do it! You have the motivation now, find the courage and the wisdom and go out there and make an effort to find a friend.
No one, I don't care who you are, can turn down the connection that happens when two women decide they like each other. You could be the vice president of the country...when you meet a woman with whom you click, a tribal member of whatever tribe you feel you belong, a person who gets what you're saying before you even say it, that is the experience we all crave. Why? Because those are the connections that define the quality of our lives.
Stick with the old stuff -- it works. Notice her cart has the same food as yours at the grocery store. Comment on her car in the carpool line. Tell her what you think of her hair after church. Find a way to open up and talk to people, show them who you are.
Try to remember to keep your expectations realistic. "Sex and the City" is not reality; it's a TV show and a movie.
Friendship doesn't have to come in groups or packs, if you can count the real friends you have on half the fingers of one hand, as my mom used to say, that is a true blessing.
Most importantly, believe in who you are, and who you can be as a friend. Yes you. You have to believe it before anyone else will. Like almost everything in life that is good, it'll take some work. It might take stepping out of your comfort zone and speaking up, but feel free to remind the world around you a little about how we used to do it.