Two months ago, 20th of August marked the end of my one year placement, and this made me reflect on many things and my actions in the past year. One of it is how little of a mark I’ve made and left in the minds of the people I’ve met here.
You probably hear d this saying before: The older you get, the harder it is to make friends.
How true is this?
In high school, even leading up to my college years, I could make friends left and right and talk with such ease. I would kill in orientations and get-togethers. Sure, not all of these many friends I made became my close friends, but it is nice to be acquainted with many different individuals. If you don’t already know, I’ve been relocated to 3 different places in the past three years: University of Exeter, University of Surrey and Brunel Innovation Centre (based in Cambridge) for an internship/placement year. Each move, each year… making friends seem to become harder… my zeal on meeting people and making new friends seem to have fizzled… and I have somewhat become an introvert.
What happened to that enthusiastic sociable girl?
Maybe it is just my personal struggle since my self-esteem has plummeted while my insecurity level has sky rocketed to the galaxy… but I have failed to make many close friends in the past year or two. Even when I did, I still felt like an outsider because they had their existing clique which I did not seem to fit into. However, when I reflected upon it… there seems to be more than that factor in play here
I seem to have nothing going for me lately – non-existent love life, out of shape physique, uncared facial features, lack of passion for anything… it all really dampens my self-worth. Because I felt so ashamed of myself, I did not want to present this worst version of me to anyone. I felt like the beast from beauty and the beast – I just wanted to hide myself away from the public eye. I avoided many social situations and such when I had a chance. A part of me wanted to use that free time and self-hate to motivate me into bettering myself, but I somehow gave up on myself. This brings me to the next point…
Is it in my head or has social media made people more judgemental? With the sharing of the details of your life on social media, people seem to have become consumed and wrapped up by vanity and appearances. All this exposure to vanity has heightened us to crave impossible standards – to attain perfection, which is why people have become more judgemental? Just look at online comments and all.In my year in Surrey, when I was in a society, I was surrounded by such people – they would talk about people behind their backs, be extremely critical and moan about the teeniest matters. Perhaps it was the culture or that specific people (a friend of mine in another Uni shared her experience that it is probably their culture. Please don’t take offense! It’s just an observation), perhaps people become more opinionated the older they become, but this made me so much more self-conscious. I barely spoke anymore, afraid of slipping up.
Having experienced being hurt by some friends and hearing shocking things said about me behind my back never really bothered me. I always think “That’s what they think, so what? I can’t control their minds. As long as I know who I am, and so do the people I care about, I will live.”
I’ve really only become more guarded because I was in a new environment… out of my comfort zone. There is no family or friends from home I could count on having my back… so I had to be wary at all times. This became a crutch… although I am fine with talking with people, people could still feel that I have built walls around me.
5. Bigger Groups, Bigger Anxiety
I am a person of little words. If you don’t already know me, I am an over-thinker. Everything I say would have gone through a painstaking imagination of how people would respond to what I say… multiple filters. This is why I have fallen for blogging – my outlet to process my overthinking and sort out my thoughts. This combined with my already non-existent self-esteem… I definitely did not strive in group conversations. Perhaps it was just in my head but every time I said something, it wasn’t heard or had zero contribution to the conversation (people would stare at me or the conversation would go silent).
I’ve also come to realize, group conversations are so impersonal (or is it just the people I was with?). It would seem like everyone was fighting to share the spotlight… that people are talking but not listening or conversing. As a person of little words, people start to think I was very stand-offish. The fact is, I only say what is necessary being a person of little words. I had little interest to be in a group conversation where you have to scream to be heard.
5. Time and Age
As we grow older, we often see there’s much we haven’t accomplished and realize how precious time is. Subsequently, we set ourselves as priority and have no time for nonsense. Bluntly put it – we become a lot more impatient and a bit more self-centred. The self-centred part is perhaps why group conversations are so disconnected to me, where it seems more like a performance of each individuals presenting their best selves. As for the impatient part… well, I am guilty of that. You have no idea how many socials I missed because I felt that I could spend that time doing something more meaningful (with the combination of wanting to hide the hideous troll version of me from the world).
So yes, I guess there is some truth to why it is harder to make friends when we get older because we become more impatient, narcissistic and judgemental, as well as grumpy
“Ten thousand people, maybe more. People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening.”
When it comes down to it, I feel like I only have myself to blame. It could be that having to make new friends every year started to take a toll on me. Anyhow, that is no excuse of becoming an unfriendly prick. Somethings are better enjoyed with good company.
My takeaway? It takes time to make a connection with another being. Take that time, don’t judge a book by its cover, tune out those judgemental voices (even that inner voice!) and stay true to yourself! I definitely struggle with being myself and hope that bettering myself will change that.
Also, protect yourself, but don’t close yourself off. Test the waters little by little… it is hard to predict anything but I usually find that my instincts are right when it comes to trusting people. So, trust your heart and instincts! And getting burned will only make you stronger!
Baby steps. It is a shame that I seem to have become more carefree and accepting of things just towards the end of my placement year. Despite the thought of having to split up again and do it all over again this fall, it still would have been nice to made stronger friendships…
Do you agree? Is it harder to make friends the older we get? Are we more judgemental? Share your thoughts and cheers to good friendships (we all know how rare they come by).