When I quit band, something that I thought I was going to have serious issues with was making friends. Turns out I was completely correct. Band was the perfect place to make friends, because you were actually forced to whether you wanted to or not. People started to rub off on you after five days of band camp, and suddenly you were best friends with people you hadn’t known the week before. Or at least you thought you had become best friends until the next week when you found the people you were actually compatible enough to be semi-good friends with.
So when I moved from Tucson, stopped all musical ensembles, was a part of zero clubs, knew basically no one… I pictured myself struggling to build relationships with anyone around me. It didn’t help that I was going in as a “sophmore” when I should have already graduated from college… I had nothing in common with the people in my classes. Even the people who were in the few photo classes I started out with seemed a bit alien. Halfway through my first year, I accepted my fate, I was just meant to get through the three years, focus on school… I was past the party scene anyways, and it didn’t really matter much if I didn’t make any friends.
Except that’s still a pretty lonely life to have. My sister tried to loop me into her group of friends, but that wasn’t meant to be, and with my closest friends at least 4 hours away, Netflix became the best friend I had. (It just understood me when I needed to cry about fictional characters at 2am!) This wasn’t the life that was intended for me, and I’m glad I was pushed in a different direction.
The second half of the second year I was at NAU I was informed about a Christian group on campus. This wouldn’t have really interested me a year in advanced, but you see, I had been through some changes. After a bad breakup, way too much time by myself, and just enough Netflix binges (it is bad for you I suppose…) I had a night when my life was changed and I considered myself a new and true Christian. Fast forward about 6 months and I’m meeting up with a girl I didn’t know, literally a friend of a friend, to participate in a bible study.
I wish I could say that I was magically transformed that night and I was charming and opened up and allowed myself to make friends and I was happy, but the reality is I panicked and ran the other way (back into the arms of Netflix.)
But loneliness is worse than the fear of looking like a fool in front of new people in an unfamiliar environment.
So I tried it again another handful of months later… I honestly don’t know what made things different the second time around. Maybe I was more willing to be myself. Maybe I had prayed enough and God was answering my prayers. Whatever it was that made the second time around the right time… I’m thankful. Humans are not meant to feel alone.
It’s weird having gone through the process of making friends again as an adult… I definitely value the friendships I’ve made a bit differently, just as I value the friendships I’ve kept over the years a bit differently. But the weirdest part is considering that I was able to make friends without band, without being forced to do so, on my own time… it’s a different process entirely, and I couldn’t explain how I managed to get through it if I tried.
The moral to my story is this: everyone can make friends at any point in their life, but you have to TRY. Putting effort into it was something new to me, and I think that’s why so many friendships after high school fail. But the silver lining is that the friendships you make when you actually put that effort into making them and keeping them, tend to be of a better quality, so it’s worth it if you’re willing.