How do friendships fit into your life? Naturally, we tend to make friends with the people around us and with the people who share our interests. If you think about your own friends (from any point in your life), you can probably group these individuals into categories, for example work friends, school friends, jogging friends, poker friends, book club friends, or what have you. For myself, I always made friends at school or while participating in some activity. However, now, my life consists of working (3 part-time jobs) and not much else. Because of this, I have seen my friend circle shrivel like a grape that was left out in the sun for too long.
If I were social and extroverted, I would probably have three friend groups for each of my part-time jobs. However, I am more of a wallflower and have three groups of colleagues rather than true friends. Seeking out more social experiences is healthy and definitely on my to-do list, but at the same time, I want to say something controversial — having a very small friend group for the past year and a half, has had its advantages! I can explain…
After graduating from my master’s program, I found myself without a full-time job or a long-term plan for the future. I was penny pinching and was taking up many one-day jobs and participating as a research test subject to get some extra cash. This was a hard time for me. Even though I had frequented dating apps like Tinder and OkCupid in the past, I took a break when I was unemployed because I never really wanted to tell anyone else about my uncomfortable situation. Even going out with friends felt very awkward because I never wanted to split the bill if I literally got the cheapest thing on the menu and everyone else got sides and drinks with their orders. Going out under these circumstances made me feel more bad than good. Ultimately, I would just end up feeling guilty about spending money unnecessarily. I declined most invitations.
Another thing that happened in the past year and a half, when I decided to forgo friendships, was that I became more goal-oriented. Because of my (un)employment situation, I became hyper-focused on financial goals and career goals. One thing I did was listen to several audiobooks (all free through public libraries!) on the topics of self-help, careers, and personal finance. Through these books, I learned about methods for staying motivated and tips for “success.” Additionally, through the finance books, I finally got the courage to open a Certificate of Deposit (essentially a high-yield savings account), increased my contributions to investments, and opened a Roth IRA retirement account online, as well as setting (and sticking to!) a budget. Having goals and pursuing them gave me the degree of control I needed when I otherwise felt that I was floating aimlessly.
Now that I am in a better place financially and career-wise and I even somehow managed to attract a [an INCREDIBLE] boyfriend along the way, I feel that friendship (along with personal fitness to be honest) is my next goal. Although I’m an anti-social introvert, I like humans; they are my favorite of all creatures in kingdom animalia. I am happy that I am now in a place where I can prioritize friendships and social activities (my case is essentially a textbook example of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).
Perhaps this post can serve as a reminder, Dear Reader. In life we go through many stages both long (like childhood) and short (like a tough academic semester). If something feels bad, in the moment it can make one feel like things have always been bad and will always be bad. However, this we know is not the case. Things change, we change, and we are always moving in some direction. I hope you, Dear Reader, are in a good place and stage in your life and if not, I hope that you are moving in the right direction.