The Anglo-American poet W. H. Auden once said:
“I am beginning to lose patience
with my personal relations.
They are not deep
and they are not cheap.”
Auden’s quote may sound like the lyrical cynicism of a grumpy recluse, but it points out some hard truths about friendship that some people are hesitant to realize. Friendship is like a bag of Doritos: everyone loves it, but are not always enthusiastic to know what actually goes into making it. There are aspects of friendship that may sound like a drag or even frightening, which might deter even the most outgoing people. Here is a list of a few of those depressing reasons why you won’t make any friends.
One problem you might face is the same issue that many psychopaths, flamboyant dictators and vulture capitalists suffer from: mind-boggling selfishness. Being outwardly friendly is not the same as genuinely having other people’s needs in mind. It’s like House of Cards. Sure, Frank Underwood might woo you with his fake southern accent and assuring friendliness, but would you really be friends with a guy who will sooner or later send you to Guantanamo or murder you for his own profit? I didn’t think so.
If Pink Floyd taught me anything, it’s that the feeling of lost time draining away your potential to do meaningful things can drive a person crazy. That’s a frustration many other college students face, so don’t be surprised when other people don’t have time for you. That being said, it makes shared time all the more precious because it is so rare and yet easily lost. Don’t spend time alone destroying your brain cells by binge-watching old episodes of Cheers. Spend time meeting people and destroying your brain cells by binge-drinking like the people in Cheers.
But don’t get too excited about doing well with new people. You know the saying, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other gold?” Well, just like Bond villains and Spanish conquistadors, some just prefer gold. This doesn’t mean some people actively exclude others, but it does mean that their attention is more likely spent on people they are already familiar and comfortable with. This can happen for various reasons, including having relatively longer friendships, having more things in common — or maybe they are disguised aliens trying to avoid drawing attention to themselves. You can either try to be patient and optimistic when trying to get accepted by others, or you can take the evilicious choice by becoming incredibly famous and talking smack about them in your memoirs/movie biopics/Grammy-winning rap songs.
The phrase “You just need more confidence” may sound like one of those things people tell you when they don’t know what to tell you, but it actually has some truth. Sometimes thinking people are not going to like you is the ONLY thing that stops you from meeting people. Fear of social interaction can be incredibly inhibiting and make one feel powerless to do anything. This doesn’t mean you have to mentally pump yourself up and charge into a social gathering like Rocky Balboa at a New Yorker magazine staff party, but it is important to realize the effects of fear as an obstacle in itself and not infallible proof that you can’t do something. Next time you feel intimidated about approaching people, just ask yourself, ”What would the crew of the Titanic do?” Answer: They’d start with an ice-breaker.
We human beings would like to think we’re in control of our future, but that is just an illusion. We are subject to mistakes, miscommunications, changing fortunes and autocorrect settings that turn your text messages from a simple greeting into a nude picture. One example was the Biggie Smalls vs Tupac story, the rap industry’s Greek Tragedy. The two used to be close friends until a tragic twist of fate ended their relationship. After Tupac left for the West Coast rap scene, Smalls released a song titled “Who Shot Ya.” It was unintentionally released right after Tupac survived a near fatal gun shooting. Thinking the attempt on taking his life and the song were both the work of Smalls, Tupac retaliated with anger and fury with “Hit Em Up.” Mistakes and miscommunication don’t always come in bullet or song form. Friendships can easily end because of little things. If you want to be a true friend, you need to be willing to listen to people and have faith in the power of forgiveness. No amount of platinum record labels and #1 hits will ever fill up the hollow shell of your soul after you’ve dissed everyone you once held dear.
Another reason you might not be connecting with people is your tendency to automatically correct people all the time. This habit can range from “That song was by Ray Charles, not Jamie Foxx,” to “Your humor column idea about not making friends is gonna suck. It sounds too depressing to read.” It’s ok to correct someone when it shows you’re interested in a discussion topic or genuinely concerned about them making a mistake, but when it comes to constantly pointing out small frivolous details, it can be rude and downright petty. Friendliness is not about judging people and making them feel self-conscious about their skills, knowledge and intellect. That’s what GPAs and internship applications are for.
If you think giving attention to the hassles of forming meaningful relationships is like saying, “The glass is half empty,” you’d be right. But let me ask you this: if you’re the person who only cares about yourself, demands time from others, assumes people don’t have social lives of their own, lets fear ruin your every decision, refuse to forgive others and constantly judge them…
Then you won’t make any friends (drops mic).
You can reach EVAN LILLEY at email@example.com