Struggling to make and maintain friendships seems to be the way of the world. It’s never as easy as television makes it look. We go through life yearning for, and indeed depending on, kinship with others, both in and outside of our species. I think to be alive is to crave connection. The dilemma comes from trying to reconcile the inherent uniqueness of our minds with the desire to discover like minds beyond ourselves. Can we as individuals ever truly link to another? Ah, but I digress into philosophical musings. This is really just about being an oddball with very few true friends.
I’ve wavered in my friendship-making abilities throughout my whole life. I met my best childhood friend when we were five, but he moved to a new state in fourth grade. The very next year, I learned what it was like to be a bully victim as I lost all the new friends I had made due to stupid childish taunting. I entered middle school alone, with a burgeoning mistrust of girls, but hoping to start over. Through middle school and most of high school, the best friendships I made were with boys. I was a bit quirky, a bit of a tomboy, with a sarcastic sense of humor and a laid back manner that seemed to put boys at ease, so it happened organically.
The friendships I managed to make with girls were intense and usually short-lived. We would bond on a borderline romantic level, like a Damon-Affleck project, but then sharply drift away. Girls always confused me. They are these deep and shallow enigmatic beings that change unnecessarily and unpredictably. They are fiercely loyal and even more fiercely vindictive. Of course I want a Carrie-Miranda bond, but girls kind of petrify me. I never get it right with them.
Another obstacle is my self-confidence. I am at times complicated and broken, and terrified of letting others see that. I am pretty adept at socializing, in almost any setting with almost any type of person. It’s the letting them in part at which I fail. I can talk about surface stuff all night, but I’d love to have deeper conversations. I can crack jokes, but I’d rather someone find a way to crack me.
Now that I’m married, and the age that I am, it seems more prudent to find good girl friends. When I moved to Geneva, I knew I would be starting fresh again on the friendship front. I could even try to re-invent myself here, be a chameleon and blend in. However, I’ve never wanted to change myself just to fit in. Indeed I’ve been fairly morally opposed to people who do that. Of course, in being this kind of judgmental, you scrutinize people’s actions more closely, and thereby ostracize yourself further. And that’s not the way I want to appear. I can never express it just right. I feel like if everybody’s honest, no one could possibly be left out. Like that deep down, we really all want the same thing: not to be alone.
Soon after moving I learned that making friends here would be more difficult is several ways. The first is that the population of this city is incredibly transient; almost half the residents are foreign nationals, working here for only a short time. The second hurdle ties in with the first, in that there are not a ton of people here who share my nationality. Altogether, this means that most friends I make (if we can overcome the initial language barrier) will only be here for about a year or two, and even if we stay in touch after they’re gone, we will probably never live in the same place again.
So you see the problem. How open can you be with people? How far into your life do you let them, if you know it won’t last? Do you stay isolated and lonely, knowing it’s only until you’re somewhere more permanent? Or do you make attempts at friendships to placate your solitude? What if you turn out to have misread someone and you lose ground and time on a wasted pursuit that doesn’t pan out? Do you let yourself be vulnerable or do you stay rigid? Poking an open wound hurts worse than a new cut in solid flesh. Can I maintain my solidity? Should I?
And I’m back to philosophy, and nowhere closer to solving my loneliness.