Monday, May 6, 2013

On Friendships. Post College.

Making friends was so easy - in college. So easy, and ultimately really rewarding - for a minute. Everyone is desperate to connect, eager to share and maybe even open to learning something new. Alcohol helped, as did house parties, frat parties, bar parties, lawn parties, camping parties, etc. Etc. Etc.

I made a new friend about every ten minutes. I invested, committed, faltered, forgave, forgot, whatever. I was never really terribly worried about losing a friend then because there seemed to be a perfectly good new one around every corner. I learned something from all of them - even though I'm now connected to only very few. College was a great social experiment that allowed me, like many of you I assume, to figure out what it means to be a friend.

So I learned what (I think) I need in a friendship--how to be a good friend and what matters in another person. But now, ten years after graduating, it is exponentially harder to make new friends. Please tell me that's true for you, too.

I was shocked at how difficult it was to make friends, real friends, with people I met after graduating. It was so complicated, and people seemed to settled and committed to their own lives. No more ____ parties?

I have friends. But the friendships seem different, or maybe I'm different. These aren't the friendships I had as a child - where we were completely honest and vulnerable because we knew no other way. Nor are they like the college friendship which, while totally consuming, were rather disposable. Now they are complicated.

Where once I was open and vulnerable, now I'm guarded. I'm me, but maybe a slightly more filtered version of me that I once was.

Now, much to my surprise, the only relationship in my life that I am wholly unfiltered in is my romantic relationship. I'm so me, so open, so vulnerable, so unprotected.

I love my friends, but maybe there isn't enough vulnerability to go around. Or maybe I only have the guts to really expose myself to just one person at a time. Or maybe now that I am a totally exposed adult (in one relationship), I no longer have the need for that kind of intimacy with friends.

I feel whole. Much more so now than I did ten years ago, so certainly none of this is for the worse, but it is surprising. In mostly a really good way.

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