Awhile back, a NY Times article circled the social mediaz (there are so many lately) that examined the hardships of making friends over the age of 30.
If I recall correctly, the article said it was difficult to develop friendships, like the ones you had in grade school or college, over the age of 30 because individuals typically get their shit together by then and
decide to scrape off the loser friends who either a.) still live on somebody else’s couch 2.) repeat the same disasturous dating mistakes for years, constantly ask you for advice and then never take it and 3.) drink every night, but think AA is a vehicle assistance program spend more time with their spouse, kids and co-workers at places like Dave & Buster’s than at bars w/ buddies.
Or at least that’s what I got out of the article.
I’ve never been an awesome kick-ass friend. I attribute it to being an only child. And a Gemini. And maybe because I’m a left-handed Jew, I’m not sure. Woody Allen doesn’t seem like he’d make a great friend either.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a bad friend. I’ve just never been one of those girls that will spontaneously send you a hand-wrapped gift or braid your hair or remember to come to your wedding or that you gave birth.
If you have drama in your life, I will disappear like a ninja in the night.
I don’t particularly like that I’m a three quarters-ass friend and I try to change, but often feel caught up in the minutia of life. Every other year I will send you a holiday card and feel a sense of extreme accomplishment. Once in awhile I will call you and fall asleep on the phone.
I have one grade school friend that I regularly talk to (that I haven’t called back in 6 weeks, shit!). Luckily for me, he’s patient and understanding of my disappearances. I have several friends that I regularly talk to from college, but one recently stopped talking to me after I wrote a bad Yelp review about the store he used to work at. Our friendship has been dotted with various “no speaking times” over ridiculous situations like that and considering he’s neither a chick or Jewish, I have little tolerance for silent treatment (got enough as a child, thanks!) and haven’t tried very hard to break the silence. I’ve met several wonderful people socially in Austin, but when I began to take my writing more seriously and then subsequently met Geoff, I dropped off the social radar to the point where many forgot about me and vice versa. I find that, surprisingly, the only people I enjoy talking to on a regular basis are my friends in LA. Surprised in that when I lived in LA, I felt like I didn’t have a strong support group, only to discover that once I left, I did.
Austin is a very social city and I’ve been fortunate enough through my blog to be invited to various events and shindigs. However, the more I work from home, the more I find myself becoming a cantankerous recluse. Traffic scares me, parking scares me, drinking scares me and large crowds scare me. Noisy rooms send me into a PTSD state of rocking in my chair and biting my lip. These traits do not make for a gaggle of new friendships.
What I am good at is talking to you one-on-one about interesting subject matters in a comfortable setting. I’m good at developing those relationships. Once that friendship has been established, I may not always go out to lunch or drinks with you when you ask (budget also has a factor in this), but I will be there for you in other ways.
In a time where we have thousands of Facebook friends and are easily connected to so many through text messaging and Instant messaging, I find myself pulling away even more. I find myself resting on the comforts of online communication over real life interaction. It’s cheap and it’s easy. I find myself wanting to focus on my career and passing over the calls for physical human connection.
I know this is wrong- at least, that is what various technology/self-help articles that are springing up with alarming speed are telling me- but is it? Am I just going through a phase? Will I die alone? Will I?!? TELL ME!!!
We live in a time that is so confusing in regard to friendships. Are we supposed to actually be friends with all 1200 Facebook friends? Am I supposed to text my friend right back just because we can now? Is talking to a friend on the Internet any better or worse than talking to them on the phone? I see FB friends tagged in thousands of photos at various parties and outings as they are excellent caterers to their social life. They look happy. They have a lot of friends. Is this how I’m supposed to be?
I wish I could say that I’ve learned something from this internal conversation, but the truth is, I’m not sure what to change. The reality is, your childhood group of friends move away, you meet new people, some you keep, some you don’t, and you spend the majority of your adult life trying to succeed, career-wise and family-wise.
Friendships take work. Maybe I’m too self-centered to take the time to focus on nurturing current and provoking new friendships. Maybe I will see this over time, or maybe, like the NY Times article suggests, I will get worse as I delve deeper into my adult life. Will I wake up one day singing, “My God! What have I done?!”
What kind of friend are you? What do you think makes a good friend?