Making friends

25 03 2011

I’m guessing that this single activity is probably one of the most daunting prospects about moving anywhere new. Let alone moving half way across the world.

I don’t profess to be a social butterfly. My life isn’t a social whirl. But I’ve never really struggled with this bit.

I left home at 18 to go to uni. There you’ve got a natural circle of ready-made friends – those on your course, sharing your uni accommodation, who you see at the computer centre/library/bar on a regular basis. The uni community is a false neighbourhood that presents everything on a plate for you.

Then you enter real life. Yes your uni friends are still around and some will continue to be part of your life forever. My closest friends “back home” are those I met during my uni years. Others will be reduced to your Facebook Friend status, but without any real life interaction.

When you “grow up” and head out into the wilderness that is life, your location is dictated by many factors. And while you may consider where your friends are when making those decisions, it’s far more likely that work or a partner will take you elsewhere.

So you’re forced to adapt and get on with it. Build a new network. But all too often people feel intimidated by getting to know others. I don’t know if they feel like they can’t break into an established group. But if they make it that hard, do you want to be part of it anyway?

Our closest friends here in NZ are fellow Brits who moved here about a year before us. They did not have residency, only work visas, so they did not know at the time whether their move would be permanent.

The female half of the couple admitted to not feeling very much at home here during that first year, despite loving living here. Then they met us and she’s seen how we’ve just thrown ourselves into getting to know people and creating a new circle. This has inspired her – so she says. On the back of this, her New Year’s Resolution was to make more friends.

To make matters easier, they’ve just been awarded residency, so they now feel they’re entitled to call NZ home.

I don’t consider myself to be an inspirational person. I’m just normal. I get on with life quietly and have never tried to stick my head above the parapet. So to have someone say they’re inspired by me feels wrong somehow.

Making friends shouldn’t be hard work. But as we get older, it probably does get harder. You haven’t shared life experiences with these people like you have with your older friends. They haven’t been through your ups and downs, nor you theirs. You most likley haven’t shared an consoling cup of tea with them, or been the shoulder to cry on, or share in some wonderful news. But if you don’t go out and make friends, you’ll have no one to do all of that with in the future.

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