A recent post by and conversation with Mrs. ESPN got me thinking about friendships. They seem to change so much as an adult. As someone who's struggled with friendships with other females, it's disheartening that simply being a grown-up has often made making friends even harder. Add to being a grown-up a difference in stage of life (simply dating, getting married, starting a family) and it seems as though friendships can become strained.
In school making friends was easy (mostly). As elementary school kids, a simple mutual love of the monkey bars or a seat next to each other in morning circle activities formed a bond. We're going to skip middle school because it's a mess, and I have no desire to revisit the awfulness of attempting to make and keep loyal friends between the ages of 11 to 13. In high school, classes, sports, clubs, and extra-curricular activities were great sources for friendship. College brought much of the same, with friend-making opportunities being jobs and school projects and social organizations. In every young stage of life, common interests and simple location served friendships up on a silver platter.
Adult life is so much harder, for me anyway. I don't know many people who are involved in clubs or something like a club. Maybe an alumni organization here and there, or club sports or something. But it seems as though life makes us busy and - at least for me - I value my time at home more than I care to go mingle with strangers. I feel fortunate that my first career job required me to travel and spend a lot of time with my coworkers because I formed lasting bonds with some wonderful ladies. But at my more recent jobs, I've discovered that making personal friends of coworkers can be tricky. First, how do you even know if they'd want to be your friend outside of work? Ask? Like a date? Awkward! It seems to just kind of happen - starting with happy hour, maybe some one's doing a boot camp, or a group goes out for lunch. Someone else seems to always be the organizer though, when I'm involved. Maybe I'm just shy and feel weird about suggesting something to do outside of work.
There just don't seem to be as many opportunities to make friends as an adult. We get wrapped up with our own lives and personal relationships. During my wedding planning, I was involved with message boards on The Knot. I did make some friends, but as The Knot exists in cyberspace, the girls I click (no pun intended) with, like Salt, are often hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away, so it's not like I could call them up and invite them to happy hour. I don't feel lonely when it comes to friends in this stage of life - I enjoy being newly married and spending time with my husband, our families, and the friends we have, both individually and as a couple. I have a handful of what I consider to be good friends - ladies I can go out for happy hour with and enjoy spending time chatting with. Mrs. ESPN is one of them - we have common interests (baking, for one) and can talk and catch up for hours when we get together. I may not have quantity when it comes to friendships, but I have quality. But it makes me wonder about the future. If Mr. Kingston and I were to move, or if we felt a desire to expand our circle, how the heck would we even begin?
I feel like I sound like Carrie from Sex and the City throwing a question out into the world, but I'm curious - how do adults make new friends? Do you make friends easily, or is it something you feel you have to put a conscious effort into?