Some Exclusions May Apply: Finding Friends as an Adult

Can we start off by admitting that finding friends at any age is rough?

I’d venture to say that finding friends as an adult is even harder than finding friends as a teenager.

Can we also agree that this is one of the funniest prom pictures out there? There are so many great things about this picture. Please say you’re laughing.

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I was one of those kids lucky enough to find good friends young. I had many of the same friends throughout elementary, middle, and high school.

There’s something about being friends from the time you learn to tie your shoes until the time you leave for college that just makes life easier.

I knew there were mean kids out there, especially mean girls, but because we spent so much time in our insulated band friend bubble, the mean girls played a smaller role.

I mistakenly thought that mean girls were limited to middle and high school… you know what?

They aren’t.

Turns out the mean girls grow up to be mean adults.

I thought that adults had a super easy time making friends and that “cliques” were just something I read about in Sweet Valley High books. For some reason I naively assumed that adults were friends based solely on the premise that they were allowed to do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted (boy is that a major lie).

Turns out being adults isn’t enough to kindle a friendship.

I thought that by the time people reached adulthood the pettiness would go by the wayside.

I assumed that age was enough to compensate for differences in appearance and socioeconomic status. Turns out adults are even more obnoxious about that stuff than teenagers.

Lately, I’ve seen the “mean girls” come out in full force. Maybe it’s just the summer heat baking everyone’s brains that’s doing it. But it’s just… sad.

That’s it, it’s just sad.

When I was 16 and saw this, there was a part of me that thought “two years until college and it ends”, but what do you do when you’re stuck in Mean Girls and you’re never moving?

What do you do when you have to learn to survive and even thrive when people are cliquey, exclusive, and flat out mean?

And why are we mean to other women? To other moms?

Why is it not enough that the lady you see at the park is also raising small people? Why does she also need to be the “perfect mom”?

Why is it not enough that the mom you meet at preschool or church is actively putting themselves out there and looking for friends? Why must they also drive the right car, wear the right clothes, and participate in the same activities to be worthy of friendship?

I know I do this too. I know there are days when I’m too lazy, or too grumpy to be friendly. There are days when I just want to talk to the people I know and ignore the new people. Every time this happens I go home with a pit in my stomach.

I’m trying to be better. I know what it is like to be the one excluded. I know no matter how many times you tell yourself that “it doesn’t matter”, it still stings.

I know it is frustrating when you’re trying to be friends with people, but you just don’t quite fit the mold so you end up sidelined and ignored.

I know what it’s like to avoid situations because you know you are going to leave sad that no one would talk to you.

I know how it feels to look in the mirror and wonder what you need to change about yourself so that people want to be friends with you.

It’s a little bit (maybe more than a little bit) heartbreaking when you’re trying to make friends and people won’t give you the time of day.

Today I’m comfortable. After 3.5 years in Austin I have amazing friends. But, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to forget the feelings of exclusion just so I am aware to consciously include the new people.

So here’s my plea:

Open up your heart and mind to those around you.

Instead of assuming the mom next to you must have her own friends, reach out!

Forget about appearance. There’s more to us than our hair, makeup, clothes, and cars. Look deeper and genuinely get to know people!

Show up!! Go to the girl’s night that you’d normally avoid.

Talk to people that you normally wouldn’t. This is how I’ve met some of my favorite people.

Put yourself out there. It’s ok to fail, it’s ok not to be perfect, sometimes vulnerability is the key to lasting friendship.

And…

Assume that having kids, or breathing oxygen is more than enough to be the basis of a long and amazing friendship.

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