Do you think it’s hard to make friends as an adult? I do.
It used to be so easy. Consider college: You live, eat, study, hang out and party with other people your age. Close quarters and late nights make for intimacy and easy friendships. The massive alcohol consumption (“I love you, man!” “No, I love YOU!”) helps, too.
Residency and fellowship are also like that. Working countless hours with life or death situations on the line builds fast bonds. Those war buddies slogged through the trenches with me and will always be golden in my mind.
As a real adult, I find it harder and harder to meet people who really get me. Maybe it was easier when I was younger because there was less about me to get. Or maybe I was more open and accommodating to the quirks of others. A big possibility is that I had more time to cultivate new friendships and fewer pressing responsibilities, like, oh, a job, two kids, a Spouse, a mortgage, and an incontinent toy poodle.
Or maybe it’s this: I firmly believe that you can’t get a personality transplant, so perhaps the world’s caught on to my schtick and others stay safely away.
Being a good friend is, I think, one of my better qualities (Runner up best quality: Usually I have gum and will share). I’m really lucky to know cool and amazing people from every stage of my life. From a high school friend who happens to have the same career as I do, to another high school/college friend who lived in a 10′ x 10′ dorm room with me and still made me her Maid of Honor, to a college lab partner whose emails I look forward to every day, to people who’ve been in the OR with me at 3 AM, I love you all. The best part about almost all of these friends is that when we talk, it’s like no time has passed and we pick up right where we left off.
Friendship-wise, the most recent phase of my life has been the most difficult. I’m not totally sure why, but a lot of it seems to be due to time, which I have less of now than ever. During the free time I have, I’m guilty of trying to maintain the old friendships I have rather than putting energy into growing the new ones. Life transitions have also come into play: One of the most intellectual and insightful friends I have – and was thrilled to meet when we moved here five years ago – ended up transferring to a different branch of the World Famous Medical Center where we’re both employed. Huge bummer.
In the past few years, I’ve also gone through the painful process of editing friends. About two years ago, I went through a Friend Divorce from someone I thought I would be BFFs with forever. Realizing that I needed to cut someone loose that I’d known for ages was a new one for me. Maybe we’ll be friends again someday, but I’m not sure.
On the flip side, as I’ve gotten older and friendships have deepened, I’ve had opportunities to really be there for friends when it counted, whether life was good or bad.
But my solemn vow to you, Dear Friends, is this: Whether we met twenty years or twenty minutes ago, you mean the world to me and I promise to be the bestest bestie I can be.
Let’s hang out soon and have a laugh.