Edition #80: On Making Friends as an Adult

Plus, why this year feels like it's moving too quickly the Lorax, and advice for fifth graders

A Note From the Editor

I have a handful of unpopular opinions—mayonnaise is the superior condiment, the best naps happen in movie theatres, pretzels sort of suck, and it isn’t that hard to make friends as an adult. I realize some people are naturally shyer or more outgoing and thus will have very different experiences attempting to connect with strangers, but I stand by my claim. Having spent a majority of my adult life moving from place to place, starting fresh in three different cities, two of which I knew absolutely no one, I can confidently say making friends as an adult requires, more than anything, time and effort. You must be willing to reach out, unafraid of whether you’ll come off as too desperate or too eager. There is no space for playing coy when you have no friends. You must make plans and follow up. You must be willing to text first, especially if the person you’re pursuing already has friends or a family of their own. Generally, a little effort goes a long way.

There’s a caveat, of course. Just because it isn’t supremely difficult to make friends, it doesn’t mean you’ll find your people right away. I think of meeting soul friends the same way as dating— you date around for a while, ostensibly trying to find someone you’re willing to spend large swaths of time with, perhaps even pursuing the elusive “forever”. But first, you must go on many bad dates. It’s the same with friends—you have to try people out before you meet those you really click with. When you do, you never have to second guess it. The connection is instantaneous, those moments when, over coffee and hours of effortless conversation, you lock eyes and see only the potential in one another. Just like that, you know you’ve found a forever friend. 

I lived in New York for a full year before entering what I’ve now dubbed my Season of Friend Making. I had friends that first year that I loved dearly, but I felt like something was missing. I didn’t have anyone to discuss novels with, or to volunteer with, or to debate the merits and pitfalls of feminism with. I was growing into this brand new version of myself, exploring all of these heretofore ignored aspects of who I was, and I wanted a group of people who could push the limits of my understanding of the world. People from different backgrounds than mine, people who didn't know me in college. I wanted a chance for a fresh start, to be known not as who I was, but as who I felt I was becoming. None of these desires were overt, though. I wasn’t thinking about how I wanted to meet new people, nor was I actively pursuing these sorts of friendships. Mostly, I was doing the best I could to continue to get to know myself. And then the Season of Friend Making began. 

I was taking my second-ever trip to Europe over the holidays at the tail end of 2017 and decided I would travel alone for the first time. In a hostel in Budapest, I eased my nerves with booze procured at an underground cave bar. Afterward, I met a girl who also lived in New York. I was not sober and it was the start of a brand new year, so when she asked whether I wanted to sign up for a dodgeball league in NYC, I did so without pausing to think about whether my New York self would want to follow through with such a commitment. On the plane ride home from a later leg of that trip, I sat next to a girl and we didn’t exchange a single word during the six-hour flight from London to NYC. When we landed, we were stuck on the plane for nearly four hours and during that time we started to chat. It was well past midnight by the time we finally deplaned, and we decided to share an Uber home, as we discovered we lived near each other. 

Little did I know that, at dodgeball that first week, I would meet a girl who also happened to get recruited to play during that same Euro-trip, that the two of us would bond over our questionable choice to sign up for group sports while drunk in a foreign country and that, eventually, we would become best friends. She would teach me about art and music, we would end up traveling to Japan together and quarantining together and meeting each other’s parents. I also couldn’t have known that the girl I shared an Uber home with would be one of the most intellectual, impressive women I have ever met, that she would introduce me to her best friend and that the three of us would end up having many dinners and sleepovers where we debated gender roles and heteronormative dynamics and Trumpism.

Eventually, I would start a book club, inviting these new friends, some old friends, and friends of friends to come together every month. It would be the start of my most perfect New York friend group; people from all different walks of life, with all different points of view. This new dynamic would give me the chance to see my old friends in a new light and we would become closer for it. During book club, I would glance around the candlelit table in a small, dimly lit bar in the East Village, listening to the voices of these incredible women while sipping orange wine and think: holy shit, how incredibly lucky I am. Thank God I went to Europe.

Lately, it feels like I’m entering a second Season of Friend Making. In the past month or so, I’ve met wonderful people at every turn—on the subway, at a party, at a small concert. This time I recognize it as it’s happening, and I can’t help but think this magical coincidence is indicative of how much effort I’ve put into accepting myself, attempting to be the truest, most genuine version of who I am. And it feels wonderful.

Cheers, my dears, and as always thanks for reading. Do you find it difficult or easy to make friends as an adult? Have you ever had your own Season of Friend Making? I’ve love to hear about it.

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Three Pieces of Content Worth Consuming

  1. Here’s Why It Feels Like This Year is Going By Too Quickly. The past few weekends have been insane. I've gone from this dinner to that party, that dinner party to that *party* party. $18 seems to be the new baseline price for a cocktail (why?) and I’m, often kicking myself for the layers upon layers of overlapping plans made. But alas, time is moving fast. Suddenly it is July and I’m in a sweaty daze while attempting to take stock of what has happened this year. Who knew Apartment Therapy would be the outlet to put out such a well-thought-out article about why that is and what we can do about it?

    “Instead, many are left with a lingering sense that they’re running out of time — that there’s a clock counting down how much can be squeezed into the half-year remaining in 2021, the year that was supposed to be the restart of life.”

  2. Watch The Lorax. A strange recommendation compared to the think pieces I normally recommend, but I watched it for the first time this week while my niece and nephew were in town and wow. With the world quite literally melting, flooding, and burning all around us, the lesson in this touching kids movie felt so timely that I cried and cried at the end. Set in a futurist town where everything is plastic, there are no trees, and residents have to pay for clean air.

  3. You Are Doing Something Important When You Aren’t Doing Anything. To parlay the first article recommendation, a gentle reminder of our ability to resist the temptation to go, go, go, and why it’s so imperative that we do so. I like this piece because it doesn’t say “rest will make you more productive,” which is not at all the point of resting. And especially good advice; we don’t have to wait until the weekend or vacation to work in slowing down.

    “Sometimes when I’m sitting still, seemingly idle in a cafe or a park during the weekday, I find myself tuning in to a certain kind of talk. “What are these people even doing here,” someone will say with a scolding air. “Don’t they have jobs?”

Perhaps You Should…
Save the Date!

If you’ve been reading this newsletter for some time now, you’ll already know about Arty Party—an IRL event in parks around NYC organized by me and my two best friends. We started this event back in April to celebrate my first short story being published, and since then it’s morphed into a mutual aid creative festival (and, if you ask me, something very special). Our next event is coming up on Sunday, August 8th in Fort Greene Park from 12pm-2pm. We have an incredible lineup of performers, local vendors selling everything from boozy slushies to candles, tarot readings, mystery drawings, and some fun little surprises. The event is free, but our vendors participate in a profit share and we sell 50/50 raffle tickets to raise funds. This month, we’re raising money for a young, single mother in Brooklyn who needs to move out of her current apartment to get her and her boys in a safer living situation away from her abusive ex. More on that later, but in the meantime please add this reminder to your Google calendar. And if you own a small business located in NYC and are interested in setting up as a vendor, shoot me an email! Hope to see you there.

**Bonus Content** (Do’s and Dont’s 5th Grade)

This list made me cry laughter tears.

A Quote From A Book You Should Read:

“You see, doing one thing differently is very often the same as doing everything differently.”

-The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

This newsletter is best served with a side of conversation, so drop your opinions, reflections, and thoughts in the comments below and let’s get to talking.

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Or, share the most thought-provoking piece from today’s edition with someone you love, then call them up to discuss, debate, and percolate. As a wise woman once said, “Great minds discuss ideas.”