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Auntie Anna's guide to adulting, part 3: building your circle

Feb. 26, 2018
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Welcome back to the third episode of our adulting series! Today, we’re discussing FRIENDS!

Graduating from high school, growing up, and moving out means that you’re going to cut ties with some people, potentially including your friends. You might have been in this friend group, this social circle for your entire adolescent life—hence, it definitely will be mentally hard and daunting. It won’t be easy unless you had a horrible time in high school and can’t wait to get out of it. But, if you’re anything like me, it will be difficult. Let me reassure you that it is a vital part of growing up. We all need to be out of our comfort zone to learn and progress!

This episode will discuss friendship and the nature of such a relationship.

Being away from familiarity, whether it’s a physical place or a state of mind, will put you in an unstable ground. And perhaps at this point, you’ll be desperately searching for new connections, new relationships, and new friends. Peer pressure can happen even after high school. Surrounding yourself with the wrong people due to the fear of not having friends will eventually make you realize that you’re not happy. You’ll feel obligated to conform to a certain behavior or personality. 

A healthy friendship focuses on the aspects of enjoyment and growth. You don’t just appreciate their presence, but you can grow with them. This is a major reason why some friends grow out of one another. Often, we find that some friends don’t grow in the same direction as we do, which results in “drifting apart.” 

It’s vital to stay true to yourself when you’re talking to new people, and try not to compromise too much with whomever you’re faced with.

The following is a list of some “commonly made mistakes” when we’re forming new relations.

  1. Conforming
    Have you ever found yourself nodding and replying with a high-pitched “Yeah” throughout the conversation even though you didn’t entirely agree with whatever the topic was? This is a common issue while making new relationships. Naturally, when we strive to get closer to someone, agreeing with him or her in conversation shows a sense of similarity and bonding. It’s completely healthy and normal to try understanding the other’s perspective and to keep up with the flow of the conversation. However, it’s also important to recognize that your first impression with someone will set the foundation for your relationship. By agreeing to whatever they have to say, you’re putting yourself in deep water—perhaps they will get a false perception of you and you’ll eventually feel forced to present a false image of yourself.

  2. Assumption
    Often, when we’re faced with a stranger, we cannot help but assume their personality. I’m quite guilty of this. Every time I meet someone, I immediately examine his or her appearance and body language to determine whether I want to talk to them or not. It’s reasonable to gather a quick overall assumption of somebody; it’s human nature. But I soon realized that if you let this become a habit, you’ll prevent yourself from forming potentially incredible friendships—remember how the saying goes? Don’t judge a book by its cover!

  3. Small talk
    In this age, we’re all about instant, fast, and efficient. So even in conversation, we don’t always spend enough time getting to know a friend or diving deep into the personality of somebody we meet. Small talk isn’t really about a short conversation, as a short conversation can be just as impactful as a longer one. It’s about the quality of your conversation. Often, we don’t bond over casual talk such as class schedules or gossip or something far from reach. The way to create a personal bond is to share and receive personal information. Incorporate your interests and hobbies, your music taste, or your favorite thing to read into the conversation. The balance of information exchanged is also important, because you need to be knowing as much as you’re sharing to move forward in the friendship. Ultimately, the act of learning about the person can actually form a relationship, not just a casual obligation to speak to someone.

  4. Taking things too quickly
    Friendship is very much similar to a sexual relationship in that you can take it too quickly. Especially during the first year of college, it’s easy to feel the pressure to belong somewhere. You can quickly find yourself in a social situation you don’t like (such as being at a party although you don’t drink just because you want to be with a friend, or a group of friends). Always remember to ease yourself out, spend time with others, and spend time with yourself. By having time alone, you will be able to think through who you actually like hanging out with. Moreover, you won’t be prone to the tendency of always needing somebody around to feel validated. 

In addition to making new friends, what I find quite vital is befriending yourself. This is significantly important because now that you’ve moved onto another chapter of life, you’ll lack the presence and support of family. Without childhood friends and family, we can easily be susceptible to feeling lost and isolated in a strange environment. Hence, it’s super vital to learn early on to appreciate your own presence and be alone. Be friends with yourself so that you’re comfortable and happy even when you’re alone. 

A Guide to Befriending Yourself

  1. Understand why you don’t want to be with yourself. There’s a reason behind every decision we make, and this isn’t an exception. You’ve got to figure out why you don’t like being alone, whether it’s being in isolation without someone to talk to, boredom, or being conscious of not socializing enough. The first step to fixing something is to recognize why it is the way it is.
  2. Find out if you can fix that. Can you change the situation yourself? Or is this a more serious matter? Subsequent to pinpointing the issue, it’s now time to tackle it. First, you’ve got to see whether this is something you can handle or a more serious matter that requires professional help. If you’re going through mental instability or uncontrollable conditions, it’s best to seek out professional/medical help. 
  3. Understand that it is very important to like yourself. To actually focus on making these mental and physical changes, you need to realize why it is crucial to befriend yourself. Acknowledge that only you will always be there in all situations. You are perhaps the most powerful and weakest weapon you have. A friendship with yourself will help you be more content with the social circle you have, and you’ll be more confident when dealing with situations and people. Without a friendship with yourself, you’ll be more prone to unhappiness and dissatisfaction as you’ll be dependent upon others to bring you joy and validation.
  4. Find solutions. Solutions differ from person to person. There’s no one-size-fits-all for this problem. So once you’ve identified WHY, you’ll quite clearly see what you need to do. If you don’t like being alone because it’s boring, maybe you don’t know yourself enough—you haven’t been alone enough to learn that it is certainly not boring. Even extroverts need time by themselves to get into their quiet headspace, to recharge and connect to their inner being. Possible solutions may be finding some solitary hobbies, getting into a habit of doing one activity by yourself every day (read a book, watch an episode of TV, take a bath, take a walk, hangout with your pet). Hanging out in nature or with an animal is perfectly fine as long as you’re not with a person. 
  5. Act on solutions and keep track of them. Good problem-solving involves having a short-term and a long-term solution. A short-term can be an action that will be changed to a new one shortly. A long-term, in this case, would be more like a goal or a mindset. Your short-term and long-term both need to be kind of measurable so that you know if you’re progressing or have achieved it. For example, if your short-term solution is setting aside 1 hour every night before bed to be alone, you can keep a running tally every night to see if you’ve done that. A long-term solution can be more universal, such as aiming to be free from the “pressure of being with people.”
  6. Reward yourself and continue to keep track of your actions. After awhile of successfully sticking to your solutions, it’s nice to reward yourself. Maybe your reward is an item, or maybe it’s an experience. It’s rewarding enough to just be comfortable with yourself, and if it’s not easy for you, this rewarding system will hopefully push you to stick around with your solutions for a while longer. 

Thanks so much to everyone for tuning in! Here’s a Monday mixtape for you all to remember that it is okay to be alone at times, and to remind you that you will eventually find the right people for you!