How to make friends as an adult
For a good part of my life, I felt that It was hard to make friends as an adult. I realized this eight years ago when I took over TDS.
I was thrust into the light of popularity where everyone wanted a piece of Aleks’ time.
Aleks was the new cool kid on the block.
Yet, whenever I walked home from a social at the end of the night, I felt incredibly lonely.
At first, I thought maybe it was because now I was in charge, and people kept a distance.
That idea didn’t make sense because I was talking to more people (not less) and hanging out more socially.
Then I thought, maybe I am spending too much time with people?
That didn’t make sense either. I’m extroverted; I love hanging out with people.
And so I messaged my mentor, and I told him the whole situation.
His reply was so simple: “You having too much junk food.”
It took a few seconds but something clicked…I was having too many shallow conversations.
It was like eating candy bars all the time, sweet but ultimately I am hungry 10 minutes later.
I knew how to fix it… have more real conversations but I was scared.
Frustrated I replied: “Everyone has shallow conversations. If I try, it will be awkward.”
He replied saying: “Well if everybody smoked, would you start smoking?”
I wanted to say yes…yes, I would smoke because it’s easier to go with the flow than against it.
But I knew if I wanted the things that other people don’t have, I needed to do what others aren’t willing to do.
The following week a student came up to me as I stood outside our school’s social. The conversation started with the usual greeting, and I tried to get to know him better soon after.
“Hey man, what is it you do for a living again?”
“I’m an accountant”
I smiled getting ready to go deeper.
“That’s awesome, why did you become an accountant?”
“Because it was easy”…
I blinked at him and thought we were still in the shallow waters.
We need to deeper…Let’s go deeper, I thought.
“What did you want to do before that?”
“I wanted to be a dentist”
Excitedly I replied, “Why didn’t you?!?”
To which he replied, “Because it was hard”…
This went on, I would ask, he would reply, I would ask WHY but we kept hitting a wall.
It started to get awkward as he started to feel like I am interrogating him…
Despite his reluctance, I just kept asking why this and why that…why he wasn’t with his ex-wife anymore?
As I was getting into his childhood trauma (yep…) he placed his hand on my shoulder with some strength and said
“Aleks, dude I am GOING to GO to the WASHROOM now”
As he started to walk away I replied
“No problem man, I will come with you, we can keep talking”
I saw the panic on his face as he turned around, he grabbed my shoulder with more force and replied:
“no…no…YOU STAY, I GO”
He left and I felt frustrated as I took out my phone and messaged my mentor again.
He replied, “Just keep trying, you’re just not good at it.”
So I did and those awkward conversations turned less and less awkward until something amazing happened.
I suddenly stopped having ‘Junk Food Conversations’ and suddenly I didn’t feel lonely as much.
I learned that all I need to do is to focus on the WHY. My why’s, be curious about other people’s WHY’s.
Most people when they talk stop on WHAT.
“What are you watching, what did you do this weekend…etc.”
Once someone gives you an answer, you stop there, you don’t follow up with the more important WHY.
“Why do you love this show?”
“What made you want to get away this weekend to the cottage?”
“Why do you love being outdoors?”
When I was a kid, I was always curious about others about WHY they do what they do.
When I was a kid I was open about my hopes and dreams, what I wanted to be and WHY.
At some point as I got older I started to stop being curious, I closed off to the world…
We all do that and maybe it’s because we were hurt in the past, or let down, there are a million reasons.
I learned the whole world is a playground, and every person is waiting for someone else to be open.
And why can’t that be me…why can’t that be you?
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