Welcome to my blog, aka my place to comment and reflect on things I find inspiring, amusing, irritating, or baffling. When I was young, my Stanford PhD, former physics professor, software engineer father used to help me with my math homework, and I, being mentally deficient in all things math, could never quite get it. He would constantly say to me, "Jill, it's not rocket science." (Did I mention the PhD was in Aeronautics and Astronautics??) So I thought it would be an appropriate title for this blog because everything I write about is, indeed, not rocket science.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old

Remember that dorky song, "Make new friends, but keep the old/One is silver, the other is gold"? We used to sing it in rounds when I was a Girl Scout, and sometimes my friends and I still sing it to be silly. Well, my friends and I were chatting the other day about how as an adult, it's more difficult to make new friends because it's easier to keep the old. They've been your friends for so long that you might not even remember how you first met. They know everything about you and your family; they know how you operate and what makes you tick; they know what kind of mood you're in within 10 seconds. But how do you achieve this level of friendship with a new, casual friend? At this age (30s), it seems more difficult to go from casual friend to good friend.

By casual friend, I mean your co-workers whom you might go to happy hour with occasionally, but otherwise would never hang out with outside of work, or your friendly neighbors whom you chat with once in awhile, or your gym acquaintances with whom you gossip. But what about making new, good friends? The kind you can ask to give you a ride to the airport at 6 a.m.; the kind you can enjoy non-awkward silence with; the kind who know embarrassing things about you but would never think less of you (because you know an equal amount of embarrassing things about them).

Most of my friends whom I'm super close to are from my past: high school and before (preschool!) and college. But in the past 10 years, I can count my new friends on one hand. One of them I met in grad school, which is a unique and intense experience that quickly bonds people, and two of them I've known for years, but they happened to be in my sister's graduating class and we didn't become close until recently. And some of my new friends became friends by default - a friend's boyfriend/girlfriend who's automatically initiated into the group. 

It's not that when you reach a certain age, you become a social retard incapable of making friends - I just think there aren't as many opportunities. School is a hugely uniting experience where everyone is looking for friends. And post-school, we get settled into our lives and just don't need as many new friends, I suppose.

And it's not that I have a lack of friends. I have many wonderful friends whom I see regularly. But how does someone in their 30s, without kids, make new, good friends? (I asked my mom this question, and she said that once you have kids, you meet a ton of people and easily make new friends.) For instance, I have a friend from the gym whom I've known for about two years, but we're still just gym friends. We text back and forth, but that's the extent of our outside-the-gym relationship. How do you break from the casual friendship into the, "let's hang out outside of where we normally see each other" friendship? 

I suppose it's more difficult for adults because we're busy - busy with work, kids, life. And laziness is also a factor - if I really wanted to hang out with my gym friend, then I easily could. I could suggest we grab lunch or coffee, and that get-together might lead to others. It just takes someone to make the first step. And then the second step. And then keep going until you feel comfortable asking them to drive you to the airport at 6 a.m.

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