To be frank I used to think I never needed any more friends. My two best mates had been as much since we were knee-high to a grasshopper. We’d swapped spit (by way of secret handshakes, not other forms of experimentation!), built cubbies, covered for each other (knowing our respective mums were way more forgiving on us than their own) and had, as we grew up, kept one eye on each other and our other on pretty girls…
I had a few more (mates) that were good for a camping trip, shits and giggles or packing out a crowd at a BBQ and I had a big (extended) family that enjoyed spending time together. What more did I need?
The people I worked with were just that. I barely had enough time to catch up with the friends I had. My book was full. If you weren’t invited, you were outside in the cold. I just wasn’t interested. And it showed. I’d meet new people, shake their hand and forget their name the minute they said it. People outside my circle were simply irrelevant.
How naïve! The people I could have met, the stories I could have heard and the experiences I could have been a part of.
I guess when you’re younger (and single), you’re not thinking about the days to come when your own family, career choices or that of your mates, moves your life in directions and to a place you hadn’t contemplated. The result is you’re estranged from your friends and family. What now? TV? A bottle of wine? A pizza… by yourself?
In my case, my best mate moved interstate and my other mate lost his mum, which triggered a profound and permanent change in the nature of our relationship. Sure, I had met my missus and started my own family, but the mates I had grown up with, knew better than anyone else on the planet, now seemed to be in a distant galaxy, with me all alone on some lifeless celestial outpost.
I reckon I probably lived there (on the celestial outpost) for a good few years… Maybe even a decade or so, bumming my way through the early years of my kids life, making small talk with other dads at birthday parties (again not remembering their names), hanging out with corporates at sporting events, or going along to things the missus had organised, feeling like a third wheel… all the while pining for the old days, or looking forward to the next time I would be with my mates (which may have only been once or twice a year!). What a miserable old bastard I was.
So I am glad that a little while ago I got out of my own way, took a risk and made some new friends. And it has rewarded me in spades. In fact, I’m almost the polar opposite of what I was… so many friends, you have to book weeks in advance to get calendars synced; looking forward to every new encounter, relishing what opportunities, friendships and experiences it will bring; and simply giving everything and all you have to every day and everyone.
Case in point… I have just got back from a weekend away with the missus where we enjoyed some good food, great wine and saw some amazing parts of our glorious country. And what a weekend it was… it’ll go down as one of the best on record. But the best bit was that we enjoyed it with friends that, until recently, we didn’t know – one couple for a hand full of years, another for only a few months and a third we met en route. Quite frankly it was like we’d all known each other throughout the ages. We swapped stories none of the us had heard before, roared with laughter with a vintage akin to the wine we were drinking, and looked after each other like lifelong friends do, knowing all the other person’s quirks, nuances and titbits.
It reminded me of all the good reasons to get out of your own way and enjoy the company of others. Say yes more often. Open your ears, your eyes and your attentiveness. Open your hearts and give everything you’ve got (not your money!). Yes it was challenging in the beginning, but you have to remember your own life is rich with stories, good, bad and indifferent, that true friends will want to hear, enrich, embellish.
So do yourself a favour… get out there, make yourself a little uncomfortable, and whichever way you can, meet a few new people.
When was the last time you made a new friend? How did you meet? Tell us in the comments below…