Making friends is easy (when you’re 10 years old at summer camp)

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about those big life questions, how am I spending my life doing, what do I want out of life, what makes me happy, and really, who am I? These questions are all too lofty and likely, too unanswerable to tackle but why the hell shouldn’t we ask them every now and again? In the last year my life has changed a lot. I got a new job. I went from fairly casual shift work to a Monday to Friday gig. I relocated to a new city and I started living alone for the first time in my life.

My lifestyle changed. A lot.

It would be disingenuous to tell you I was excited about all these changes (read: challenges) and that I embraced them with open arms. When I got the call that I got the job and I would be moving, I cried. Not happy tears. I cried ‘my life is changing and I don’t want it to’ tears. But lets not dwell on the past. I maintain that it was a great opportunity, a great move, and the 100% right thing to do. But our hearts don’t always like to listen to our minds so I still was somewhat lost in a field of mixed emotions.

I’ve always told myself to never let fear stand in my way. No matter how much things scare me, I have to, have to, push through. Fear is, after all, a liar.

So, the long and short of it is that I packed my possessions and drove away. Anytime I’ve left my home city I’ve always had a return date. But not this time. This time I was moving to a new place. Calling that place home. Making a life there. Settling. Putting down roots, as much as a single, non-home owner without pets or real responsibilities can put down roots. Ok, maybe I was just getting comfortable but I definitely couldn’t play the old ‘just passing through’ card.

Moving, starting a new job, and finding new friends all makes you wonder just who the hell you are anymore. It makes you wonder if you’ll find good friends like the ones that are now far away away from you, it makes you wonder if you’re smart enough to do the job you’ve just scored, it makes you wonder if you’ll ever have money to pay off your student loans, and generally, it just makes you wonder.

I’ve been going through that for some time, as I think most 20-somethings do after they graduate university and really start to feel society pressuring them to actually figure their shit out. Or maybe that never ends. But I’ve generally been doing the ‘just roll with life’ thing because no one seems to know what is going on anyways. So far its working alright.

Up until now, however, I’ve lived in the same city for upwards of 8 ish years. When you do that you collect a lot of acquaintances, dear friends, and hilarious buddies. The great thing about this is you have a plethora of people to get brunch with, grab a beer, take a hike with, go for a run, and generally force yourself on. Even if you don’t ever do that, you know they’re around, just a phone call and a 10 minute drive down to your favourite coffee shop will have you face-to-face for hours of visiting. The comfort in this is astonishing.

So then you find yourself in a new city where you don’t know many people and you’re starting from scratch. These people don’t know my character and I’ve heard many times from people who know me well that I am considerably different than they thought I was when we first met. So here I am, forced to break another hundred bubbles in a new city.

It can be exhausting.

It can wear you down.

But when times get tough, and insecurities get the best of me and I’m nervous about what I should say, I find solace in one very simple mantra. When I say to myself ‘is this too dorky?’ ‘am I being too much of a nerd?’ ‘will they think I’m a total loser if I do that?’ I remind myself (and I quite literally say):

“If they don’t like me being me, they don’t like me.”

You might be saying ‘well obviously.’ But the brilliance in it, is that people who don’t like you for who you are aren’t worth faking it for. Be genuine, be nerdy, be sincere, laugh at what you think is funny, and do it loudly, and above all, be kind. You can’t get along with every single person out there. The person you think is an asshole might make a great best-friend for someone else, that doesn’t mean you suck. Why would you ever want to hang out with people who didn’t like your most genuine version of yourself? Just go Natalie Portman in Garden State on their ass, be weird. If they don’t like you then, they don’t like you.

Great friends are the best thing you can have in your life.

So, when I start feeling somewhat stranded and alone in this big ol’ city of mine I remind myself to be patient.

These things take time. Be yourself, kid. People seem to dig that.


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