Have you seen “Mr. Robot?” It’s my favorite new show of 2015. Not only does it dive into hacker culture in a very real way, it also explores loneliness and social anxiety. I deeply identify with the lead character, Elliot, a lonely hacker. Despite being a fictional character, I’ve never identified with anyone- real or make believe- as much as I do with Elliot.
It takes a lot to admit that you’re lonely… which I am. Over the weekend, I sat in my boyfriend’s car and broke down to him, explaining to him how my circle had shrank over the past year and I constantly wonder why it’s harder to make and keep friends the older I get. I understand that people change- I’ve changed a lot over the last couple of months. With that change, friendships fade. There’s too much distance, too much time apart… I understand that people have complex lives, filled with careers and relationships and kids and family and bills. I have some of that, too, but I still have trouble finding someone to lean on who isn’t my partner nor my mother. (And let’s not forget the physical form that loneliness can take.)
I think about the last friend I did make. It was an easy task but mind you, this was three years ago. She just moved into town from California and we were volunteering together at a fun run. I asked her if she wanted to hang out after the race and she said, “yes.” Bam- friend date! YES! When I was a nanny in NYC, my charge would walk up to other little ones out on the playground and they would become instant buddies, if only for an hour. I wish it was still that simple… just walk up to someone and say “hey” (or like this).
Back in my early days of college, I thought making friends was pretty easy. I joined a couple of clubs and met some great people. We weren’t the smartest kids in the room, nor the prettiest or most popular. Perhaps that’s why we all got along. We all had that in common. We were similar in age, in similar points in our lives, just trying to get through school. I was an extrovert then- an X on the MyersBrigg- and still am one today. Now in school and a kiss away from 30, I’m the oldest student in my class. I know what the working world is like. I’ve made adult decisions. I’ve had serious talks about marriage and buying a house. A small part of me still enjoys partying hopping and drinking on a school night but that isn’t the connection I’m looking for in a friend. The same at my job. I’m the youngest employee at most of the jobs I’ve had recently. I’ve worked with a lot of moms who aren’t too keen to grab a quick after-work cocktail or go for a run around the lake near my home. As much as I love babies, I can’t find that connect with mothers either. I’ve tried Meet Up groups, which are great but the more I attend, the more I notice already established cliques that are difficult to break into. Being with established groups flares up my social anxiety, which does keep me at home most nights. Friends on social media don’t count either- you can’t hug them or share a special look.
So, my question for you, dear reader, is how do you make friends? I know that forming quality friendships take time and I’m trying not to be discouraged by the process (even though I’m admittedly extremely jealous of my boyfriend and all his invites to hang out). A new BFF is on the horizon. Until she/he comes, you can find me watching “Mr. Robot” at home with a hard cider in tow. Hopefully, it’s not another cat.
“I think it’s really important to have a have a group of strong friends; that are always supportive and always there for you; that love you no matter what…” –Serena Williams (Amen, sister. Can we hang?)