Learning how to make (authentic) friends

I remember being a teenager and having this breakthrough realisation that if I was just really nice to everyone then they would have to like me and be my friend! Genius!

I was obviously a lonely teenager, with very few friends. I didn’t know who I was, or who I wanted to be.

I surrounded myself with books, and doped myself with sugar. Anything to avoid the reality of life around me.

My genius idea felt foolproof — be super friendly, and helpful, and nice, and then everyone will either like me or they at least can’t be mean to me — the ultimate sickeningly sweet offence/defence!

It took me years to realise that this strategy was not only ineffective (people can smell inauthenticity, and a need for approval just stinks!), but it was also exhausting! Being all things to all people is not only difficult, it’s downright impossible!

I now try to trust my gut instinct when it comes to people, and choose who I spend time with — who are the “good eggs” that are worth my investment. I also try to be myself. My fully wholehearted self. One that practices shame resilience and courage, compassion and connection with others.

It’s not easy making friends — even as an adult it’s still a daunting prospect, especially if you’ve been hurt in the past. But when you are being your best self — the kind of friend you would like to have — rather than a saccharine-sweet imitation of a friend, then I’ve found that people are drawn to you. They seek you out and offer you affirmation, even when you don’t seek it — almost definitely when you didn’t expect it.

The smell of authenticity is just as strong as inauthenticity, but its fragrance is so much sweeter.

This post was originally shared on www.togetherfurther.org on 23rd September 2016

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