The truth behind friendships

By: Ajah Ragler, Columnist

Views expressed in the column are the author’s own.

Have you ever felt that you are good at connecting with people but at the same time, you never can seem to make a friendship out of that experience? Well, this is the story of my life.

I feel like I talk to so many people but yet have no true friends. It seems like a repeated cycle. As much as I listen to professors and families on ways to make friends, I just can’t seem to grasp their advice. I had way too many experiences of trying that now I just let it happen on its own.

I hear it all the time, that “work” is a great opportunity to make friends. While that’s true for some people, it isn’t for me. I try to bond with my co-workers but the friendship never lasts.

It’s super frustrating when I think I’ve met a friend at work, but realize that they were just an acquaintance or associate.

The worst feeling I’ve ever felt was accepting that I may be a friend to others but they may not be a friend back. Growing up I’ve struggled with making friends. So, now as a young adult in college, it’s something that I value.

My therapist once asked me, “Do you think you have trouble making friends because of conformity?” At first, I thought “No I don’t; it’s just that people don’t reciprocate the same effort that I give to them.”

After this moment with my therapist, I’ve recognized that maybe establishing friendships was hard because I was so busy trying to fit in. Self-esteem and confidence are two components I believe are essential for interaction. When you find contentment in yourself, whether you have a friend or not, you will never lose your happiness because you are comfortable in your skin.

Journaling out my insecurities when it comes to friendships helped me to find happiness and peace within myself. I had to soul search and figure out my purpose.

Below are some helpful tips that worked for me when learning how to better connect with people. I hope it helps anyone who is reading this. Most importantly, find a strategy or affirmation that works for you.

Tip #1:

Reach out to the people that make time for you. Invite them over to your house or go out to eat together. That way you won’t feel sad and frustrated about that “one friend” who never calls or texts you back. 

Tip #2:

When building friendships in adulthood, understand that your expectations may be different from your friends. 

For example, just because I text my friend every morning saying “Hope you have a good day” and she doesn’t do the same back doesn’t necessarily mean she’s a bad friend. Maybe this friend has a different way of showing affection. 

However, if you see a consistent pattern of that friend who doesn’t make an effort in the friendship, then I believe it’s best to distance yourself from them. 

Tip # 3: 

Don’t feel guilty or ashamed when telling your friend how you feel. You should feel confident because it shows that you care about the friendship.

Never come off as rude when explaining your feelings to your friend. It’s probably best to communicate on a day where you don’t have much anger built up inside. 

If you aren’t sure how to communicate with your friend without coming off as rude, here are some tips for you. You can say something like “Hey, I first want to say how much I value our friendship and how much I miss spending time together. However, I feel left out when I don’t get invited to your birthday parties. I would love to come to the next one and celebrate this milestone with you.” 

Tip # 4:

Find a hobby that you enjoy. Whether that is dance, painting, acting, or exercising, you name it! This is a great way to meet people and build connections.

Tip # 5:

Meditating is one way to let all your thoughts and emotions out. Finding some sort of alone time to journal, do yoga, exercise, and read books is a great way to gain strength in contentment, self-love, and self-esteem. 

Tip # 6: 

Always stay true to yourself. This seems to be the hardest part because we just want friends. Let people fit in with you, not the other way around. 

And finally, remember you are beautiful, worthy, and loved. 

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