On friendship

A few days ago I went to a social event to view an art exhibition. I’m really trying now to find a social life in this city. I’ve been here a year and still have no-one close by to just go to the cinema with, or out to lunch, or any of the little last minute plans that can happen when meeting up doesn’t involve a short train journey. So I went to the (insane and incomprehensible) exhibition, and when everyone headed to the bar, I…ghosted straight out of there. To my surprise someone did actually see me leave and I had to explain that I was stressed and just wanted to go home (rather than saying actually mainly middle aged men are not a social group I’m interested in cultivating and I can’t face trying to make any more forced conversation). And there are other groups that are more female focused or aim at my age group but it’s hard work to keep going sometimes.

It’s got me thinking about a few things. How friendship requires effort and that when I’m feeling alone I need to put that effort into existing friendships as well as looking for new ones. And that some of my best friends at the moment are people I’ve never met and only communicate with through letters. And how bad I am at maintaining communication in any other format with people closer than 500 miles away! So more effort required – circular argument here I think πŸ™‚

I’ve also been thinking about when a friendship isn’t worth the effort. Like the group of old men I feel will never become friends. I’ve never straight up ended a penfriend relationship. I’ve been friend dumped once, by email, and it was really painful, made me completely doubt my ability to be a friend, and made me wonder why anyone would like me. I hope I have some redeeming qualities and that people aren’t just being polite in return… I’ve ghosted on penpals a few times when I’ve got 5 lines a couple of times a year and thought ‘why bother?’, but I don’t do confrontation so I mainly just keep writing back. Maybe more slowly and not chasing when another letter never arrives but reading about their children’s summer activities or a recent shopping trip and trying to be that good friend.

Sometimes we just need someone out there to listen. People need connections to others, and with the terrible current political climate it’s important to know people in Russia and USA and everywhere else, and know that the news doesn’t reflect the individual good people around the world. Maybe if all politicians had pen friends the world would be a nicer place. I’m trying and failing to imagine Teresa May and Angela Merkel as penpals, but maybe they could share leadership advice and how to ignore people criticising their fashion sense…

As a shy introvert it will of course take much longer to develop in-person relationships and have more than 2 friends, but there’s still plenty of options to explore. And despite the dominance of old men in certain local groups, or racists or painful silences or when only 2 of us turn up (all recent experiences) and late night doubts, I’m still optimistic. About everything.

And if there’s any lonely people in Derby or anywhere else – hello!!!

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4 thoughts on “On friendship

  1. I identify so much with everything you wrote here! Thank you for this post! ❀ I also have had trouble making new friends in a place where I don't know anybody; it's difficult when you're shy and introverted. That's why I love pen pals so much πŸ™‚ Anyway, sending you lots of good wishes, from one introvert seeking friends to another!

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  2. And some more good wishes from another introvert snail mailer who also has trouble making new friends! (We do seem to make up a large portion of the snail mail community, don’t we?).

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      • Know how you feel – with a letter I can take my time, thinking my responses through and feel like I have control over the conversation but when surrounded by new people, that’s just a nightmare! I’m also very much a go somewhere and have a nice chat over a cup of tea or two kinda girl rather than go out at night, get a drink and surround yourself with strangers in a loud room person which does make it incredibly difficult to meet new people, especially now that I’m out of college and not working.

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