I don't have any friends. Well, at least, not any in Portland, the city I've lived in for over a year. I'm still hopeful that at some point, I'll start to become better friends with people at work whom, at this point, I consider myself to be slightly better than acquaintances with. But for now, my only real friend in Oregon is my boyfriend, and I'm completely aware that that is a little sad.
This hasn't always been the case. In college, I had a ton of friends. I think it still sort of baffles my boyfriend, who met me when I was in college, that I don't have a ton of friends and that I'm not always at the center of everything the way I was back in those days. Of course, what I don't think he realized then is that by the time he'd met me, I'd had three years of being in college to make friends. And it took me all of those three years to make those friends. The first two years I was in college? Completely friendless. You can ask my sophomore year roommate. It drove her absolutely nuts that the totality of my social life pretty much took place on the internet.
I don't really know why I have such a hard time making friends, but I always have. I'm just sort of...awkward...around people I don't know very well. This afternoon, the boyfriend and I went to see I Love You, Man, the new Jason Segel/Paul Rudd movie, wherein Paul Rudd has no friends outside of his girlfriend and spends most of the movie failing pretty outrageously at making friends, mostly because he's painfully awkward. Watching it, I really sympathized with Rudd because, hey, that's pretty much been me my whole life. As we were walking out of the theatre, I asked the boyfriend, "So, uh, did Paul Rudd remind you a little of me?" He immediately started cackling and said, "Yeah. Why did you think I was laughing so hard?"
After leaving college, I went almost immediately into flight attendant training in Minnesota. Even though I spent pretty much 20 waking hours of the day with these three other girls who were my same age and who shared close living quarters with me, I had a really hard time ever feeling NOT awkward around them, much less making friends with them. They had all become best buds before I showed up with my suitcase on the very first day—a matter of hours to start braiding each others' hair and swapping friendship bracelets—but over a period of 6 weeks, I barely felt comfortable being in the same room with them. I'm not even sure why. They were always really nice to me and tried to include me in everything. But I always felt out of place with them.
Same thing has happened in Oregon. I've been at the same workplace for a year, and I still feel incredibly uncomfortable with almost everyone I work with. And the thing is, there's no reason for it. No one has ever been anything but nice to me or done anything to make me feel uncomfortable. I'm just uncomfortable with myself. I say and do awkward things, I have a hard time coming up with things to talk about that aren't sort of strange. Give me a blog, and I can talk for hours, but put me in a face-to-face conversation? I turn into a puddle of embarrassing yuck.
And the idea of making friends outside of the workplace? Forget about it. I wouldn't even know where to begin. I've heard from a lot of other twenty-something's that making friends once you start your real world job (especially if you leave the town where you grew up or went to college) is difficult even if you aren't impossibly awkward. On tumblr (yes, I'm back to 99% of my social life being on the internet), I'm always encountering posts that have been reblogged dozens of times where people in their early 20s ask, "Is it this hard for everyone to make friends after college?" Everyone's answer seems to be, "Yes."
So while I know part of my struggle to make friends is that I'm uncomfortable putting myself out there enough to do it, part of it is just the nature of being in your 20s. It's making big moves away from your friends from childhood or college. It's spending most of your time at work. It's not really having many opportunities to run into other people your age or with your interests. It's everyone coupling off, getting married, having babies. It's a lot of things.
I've tried putting myself out there more. I joined a community band, and I'm going to take a Spanish class starting next month. I've started accepting and extending more invitations to people I work with. I can feel it slowly starting to happen. But the boyfriend and I are planning on moving after he finishes school. What then? Do I have to start over all over again?
It really stinks not having friends, too. Like tonight, when Kellen has gone back to school and I'm sitting around on what is a really beautiful afternoon wondering, "What do I do now?" I'm completely capable of being alone with myself. In fact, hanging out on my own is something I've gotten pretty accustomed to and cool with in the nearly two years I've been out of school. All the same, sometimes you want to be around other people. You want someone you're close enough to that you can bitch about your life or tell silly jokes or go do something fun and interesting with or just...be yourself, however awkward you might be.
So making friends. It's something I'm still working on, and hopefully, the situation will improve soon. I just wish I had friends now, though. I wish all the awkward "we might be able to become friends, so let's test the waters and see how it goes" conversations could all be over, and we could already be friends, and I could stop feeling so awkward all of the time. That would be awesome.