Making friends. Making do.
I joined a “make friends online!” website today. I felt full of beans filling in my details, reminded me of when I first got myspace. However, five years older, five years wiser, and five years more cynical and cantankerous than before, I couldn’t help but feel a wave of cringyness breeze past me as i started my hunt for new chums. I suppose when you’re 22 it feels like you should be above typing things like “i’m looking for new friends!” or “i enjoy blah blah and blah blah, blah blah and blah blah, but I also love blah blah and blah blah.” I sent one message to someone, and even then I apologised for how lame it sounded. “Will you be my friend?” And I used the word mate. Sigh. I never use the word mate, although weirdly I’d really like to. Makes me feel manly i suppose. I spend a lot of time playing the gay so to speak, it is nice to get in touch with ones gender from time to time.
Anyway, I digress. It did feel silly doing something like that at 22 (although the website was for adults,) but it is difficult not to feel pushed to it. I guess I’ve been thinking about friends since my conversation with my 18 year old self brought it up. You leave uni, and if you have no friends back home or wherever you’re moving to then what are you supposed to do? Find some at work I imagine, although it does help if you’re employed. I was, but that was in general a low year and a bit, and whilst I did make a few excellent friends there the way the place worked hardly leant itself to socialising. And regardless, I’m unemployed now so the ones I did make I don’t see much, just like my uni friends. They join the ranks in my mobile contacts list now. So yes, I suppose you’re meant to make friends through work. But even if you get a job (something I am trying to do,) there’s no guarantee you’ll like the people you work with. There’s a high chance you won’t. You’ll get on with them, be civil with them, ask them about their weekend, but will you actually want to go out for a drink with them? Or go for a day trip to the beach with them? Maybe. But equally maybe not. Are you meant to give in then? Throw your hands up in the air and come to the conclusion that it’s the best you’ll be able to do, and just force yourself to make them your besties? Society seems to say yes, that’s what you do. Every fibre of my being says no. I love having friends, love, love having them. I function better with companions, people to talk with, shop with, travel with and share in-jokes with. But because I love having them so much I want them to be just right. I don’t want to have to force myself to like them.
So what are the other alternatives for someone who is either a) unemployed or b) employed but hating the people who are there? Maybe I’m meant to just not care, to just get on with things being friendless. Who needs them anyway! Sadly this isn’t me, and never will be. As I said, I function much better with companions. And besides, it’s hard to feel like you’re fine by yourself when everyone else around you is still revelling in a social life. You turn on facebook and uh-oh – people have had parties, people have had nights out, people have ordered a pizza and drunk too much wine. Other peoples lives, other friends lives; they’re there in 12.0 mega-pixel photos, gleaming at you and taunting you.
So IF then you are a) unempoyed/hating people at work and b) too naturally gregarious to be happy getting on by yourself, then what are you supposed to do? This isn’t the 40s, there arn’t polite tea dances to trot along to. You can’t just go out and get a friend. Therefore I am drawn back to where I began, my cringworthy search on the internet. But as I’ve already stated, even that feels wrong somehow.
In the spirit of the year, I have to keep some hope. I went a very long time without real friends before, and I could never, ever have hoped for the wealth of amazing people that came suddenly and swiftly after that long period. History is cyclical, I have to believe it will happen again. The niggling paranoia of my youth ticking away must be pushed (with difficulty,) to the back of my mind. I can still be young social matthew. I will still be young social matthew.
Bit of a mess for now I suppose. But in the mean time, I’ll just have to do the best I can. In the mean time, I’ll make do.
I’ll finish with a Doctor Who quote (legendary!)
Tenth Doctor: “She seems happy.”
Wilf: “She’s making do.”
Tenth Doctor: “Arn’t we all.”