All self-help, of any kind, should come with this disclaimer
A guy I knew in high school had a brain aneurysm at age 19 and dropped dead. He was incredibly smart. Really friendly. Probably had a great future ahead of him. Now he’s dead.
Somewhere in the world, someone is being murdered. Or they’re dying of starvation. These things are terrible, but they happen.
And some people are doomed to never find the friendship that they deserve.
That’s a tough thing to hear. But I think it should be the standard disclaimer on any sort of self-help. Some people will never find friendship. Others will never find good love (or any love at all). Some of the newbie writers I know will never be successful. And you or I could drop dead of a brain aneurysm tomorrow.
Misfortunes happen. I think we should do everything we can, as individuals and as a society, to prevent and alleviate those misfortunes. But we should never forget that terrible suffering is always a possibility. And, further, that life is not at all fair. Some people live a charmed life. I am so aware of how lucky I have been when it comes to friendship. A person who entered adulthood the way I did (with crippling social anxiety that both caused and was exacerbated by my alcoholism), and who followed that entrance with, at times, some very poor physical hygiene and with frequent physical moves that left me isolated, should not have as rich of a social life as I do now.
And I’m very aware that all of this is possibly temporary. My fiance could get a job tomorrow in, I dunno, Gainesville, FL, and I’ll be stuck eating every single word I’ve written here.
Because this shit is hard! It’s not hard to make ‘friends.’ But it’s hard to find life-sustaining friendship. The kind of friendship that makes you less, rather than more, lonely. It is so hard to find your people.
If you’re embarking on a journey to find your people, however you define that term, you’re doing a thing that has high odds of failure. Now, some of you might get lucky. Maybe you’ll walk into a party and a charismatic stranger will see you and descend upon you, like in a YA novel or a buddy sitcom, and they’ll hang out with you every day and squire you around town and introduce you to everybody, and you’ll have this marvelous, charmed existence.
But for many of you it won’t be that way. You’ll experience this as a real struggle. As a constant attempt to give away something — your friendship — that the world simply does not value. And my heart goes out to you.
All I can say is that there is (probably) nothing essentially wrong with you. If Charles Manson could find his family, then probably there exists some circle of friends in which you could find solace. Too often I find that people have constructed these elaborate theories in their mind about why they are uniquely terrible and uniquely unattractive to other people. That’s BS. You’re probably fine. And if you follow my advice and you’re still having trouble finding friends then: A) my advice might be terrible; or B) perhaps you’re just suffering from your own strange inexplicable misfortune. It sucks, but it’s not your fault! Some people too have just a naturally more difficult time than others. If you’re in some place where your values are not aligned with the people around you, then it’s gonna be hard to find friends. If you’re the only Republican in a small town where everybody else is a Democrat, you’re gonna feel uncomfortable. If you’re the only religious person in a town full of atheists, you’re gonna feel alone. And if you’re the only MBA-type in an industry full of hoodie-wearers, it’s gonna be hard to connect.
Okay, now if all of my advice has been too vague and general for you, tomorrow I’m going to get down to the nitty-gritty of how to generate social opportunities.