What I learned about myself & friendship

I am an introvert. I may not look like or behave like one (my friends will nod vehemently at this) but, I sure am. It takes me a while to warm-up to people and I’ve always been nervous about starting a conversation with a stranger. My friendships have always been more personal. Large social groups make me feel a bit out of my depth.

Throughout my life I’ve felt quite isolated and like I don’t belong — especially in social settings. I feel like I don’t quite fit in anywhere.

Having said this though, I studied at a bunch of different schools, I lived abroad for nearly 10 years and I’ve travelled around the world. So I know a lot of people. And I have friends who live in different cities around the world.

When I moved back to India from the UK just over a year ago, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with a lot of things. I’d never worked in India before so I knew that was going to be a massive change. I ended up moving to a city I’d never lived in before either — so naturally I started worrying about making new friends.

Luckily I already knew a few people when I moved to Bangalore. But they’re all people I hadn’t been in touch with or seen in a long time and I wasn’t entirely sure how much had changed over the years.

So I decided to focus on what felt safe and comfortable. I embraced the relationship I was in at the time, and I made friends with all of my then partners’ friends. Because why not, right? New city, new lifestyle, different culture — all new experiences so I figured I’d use the opportunity to take comfort in knowing people by association versus independently.

As time went by I started to realise that these friendship dynamics just weren’t working. Not feeling like I had any good friends (of my own) in the city, really started to get to me. I was living and breathing my relationship but equally there weren’t any obvious avenues for me to be meeting new people.

I started to try and put myself out there a little. Creating small acquaintance like relationships — with people from my work place, girlfriends/boyfriends of my partners friends, people I met through work networks, and getting back in touch with old friends.

I began to socialise independently of my partner and did more of the things I enjoy doing. I began to identify like-minded people around me who seemed to be on a similar wavelength — it was nice to be understood and not alienated.

And I’m so glad I did. Because my relationship blew up in my face. In a really big way I didn’t think I’d recover from.

But you know what I learned about myself and friendship?

I am worthy.

I just had to dig deep and remind myself that I do have a lot to offer — to friendships, family and romantic relationships. I can absolutely make a strange city my home and enjoy it the way I want to. I am smart, fun to be around and will give a lot of love to those around me (not at the expense of myself though; no more!).

But best of all I learned about my friendships. My friends aren’t people I went looking for, they happened to me. People who just weaved themselves into my life quietly. I was so busy being caught up in what I thought was ‘my forever romance’, that I just failed to notice or pay attention to the most wonderful souls around me.

They — many of whom I wasn’t even expecting to be friends with - waited patiently and supportively, and really caught me when I felt like I didn’t have it in me to look up at the stars.

My friendships are strong. They are with people I’ve known for over 10 years and they’re also with people I’ve known only a few months. I’m surrounded by positive, wonderful, energy. I’m so inspired by people who are doing such interesting, fulfilling, things with their lives. My friends are smart, ambitious, caring people. They are people who are trying to find their way around the world, just like I am.

I am incredibly lucky to have such positivity around me. I didn’t go looking for it, it found me. And for that I am eternally grateful.