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Sunday, 4 July 2010

How Do You Make Friends?

So I've decided to be contrary and begin with the revelation, instead of end with it. The revelation is: I am not okay, but that's okay.

I've spent the whole of my adult life thinking I was a depressive. This meant that although I've never had a girlfriend, I felt lucky to have a few friends. Being told that I had a chemical imbalance suddenly meant that it was fine doing nothing with my life, which seemed a constant flow between meds and no meds, summer emptiness and winter depression. I was trapped somehow between my internal landscape and the outside world where people had jobs and went to parties.

Whenever I got too miserable, I often went here, the blogosphere, and people comforted me and told me it was alright. It's difficult not to feel resentful for those nice, bland words. I use niceness in its most bitter sense, in that secretly selfish manner where it feels good to be pleasant to people but not to stick your neck out for them. No-one ever took me by the shoulders and said, "Sammy, what the fuck are you doing?". And I was lazy. I was so lazy and self-hating, and I took a sort of pleasure in watching things slide.

I worked out today that with the amount of practice I've put into my writing, I'd be a grade 5 on the French Horn. That's not even high-school band standard. My writing is far out in front of everything else, including my directing. And here I am, like so many of my generation, trying to strike it out in the world with our pathetic little dreams, and nothing like as much talent. So things aren't okay, but not because of a chemical imbalance: being an idiot isn't a disorder.

I kind of always accepted the fact I always had no social life when I was a depressive and thus a loner - not realising that socialising is something you have to work at like everything else. Plus I saw myself as taking the "talents" route in life - you know, like Nobel Prize winners who spend years alone. But in fact I can't lie, at present I'm both less talented and adjusted than my peers.

I get why I find it difficult to make friends. My main problem is that I have trouble showing weakness enough to somehow communicate that I enjoy people's company. A lot of my fellow arseholes also clearly have trouble with this. I can really like someone and still act like I've got somewhere else to be at that very second. It's like a cordial chat in a shop queue, except I'm in my own fucking garden.

If it was just a personality thing then this would be easy, but the problem is that the less friends you have, the harder they are to make. Balanced people are attracted to similar types, so that a sort of social strata is created with people who can throw a party just like that and people who have to make do with a few friends they don't necessarily get along with. I was used to that in school: a lot of my friends were clearly itching to be in the popular crowd, and some made it.

Okay, so you're in my situation. You're 22 years old, slightly boring, slightly controversial and with intellectual pretensions - thus unsuited to any party. You have one friend who lives in London, and a few more distant friends. Your hobbies and music tastes - e.g. chess and blues - are generally terrible for meeting people your own age. Oh, and anyone you make friends with will have to come to terms with a personality that if it was pleasant could be described as eccentric*.

So how the fuck do you make friends? I've forgotten. All of my friends have chosen me, somehow. Do I just go into a crowded place and gun for the person who looks as lost as I do? I have literally resorted to trying to make friends with girls over dating sites - but I've realised that no-one really goes on dating sites to make new friends, and the "looking for friends" bit is a sort of get-out clause in case they don't like the guy that much. What to do, Blogspot?

* = This isn't a self-hating entry. I'm just speaking the truth. I'm a highly intelligent, genuinely good person capable of beauty, as well as an egomaniac, misanthrope and dilettante. If you think that's a pleasant combination, I'd like some of what you've been drinking. Oh, and we should totally meet up ...


  1. Hell, I wish I could say 'Oh that's fine make friends at X,Y,Z'. Its not something I can help with though. I don't think anyone can, although I do think you're on the right track in realizing it takes work!

    I do think you're being a trifle hard on yourself - part of depression (for me anyway, and mine was probably rather mild) is a lack of energy, a paralysis that prevents one from doing anything much. Watching things slide? Oh yes sure, let them be as messed up as I feel... there's a perverse pleasure in it.

    As a fellow -eccentric I can only say this though: be ready to be laughed at, and when it happens, revel in it. I have friends now, for the first time in 20 years, and they all laugh at me. I talk funny (with long words and all) and make obscure references...

    I seem to remember my social life starting at the pub and radiating out from there, but I don't think I should reccommend substance abuse as a means of finding people to relate to. Any good Blues venues in your part of town? (Yes I know.. clichee..)

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  3. MM, I think being able to laugh at yourself is one of life's essentials. Also, as a woman you can go in to a pub and drink alone and I guarantee you won't leave alone, whereas men drinking alone create a sort of forcefield around them.

    E, no you're not a real friend ... obviously ...

  4. I'm no good at making friends. I've been fortunate in my life to always have at least one good friend and that has made the difference for me.
    But I'm in a different situation than you- I'm married and settled. I do believe that you will do in the end what you want to do. And if you want to make friends- you will.