Why Is It So Hard To Make Friends As An Adult?

Apr 21

Why Is It So Hard To Make Friends As An Adult?

I can’t help but wonder if I’m alone in feeling like this. Why is it so freaking hard to make friends as an adult!?

When I was a teenager, I was super social. I wasn’t a party girl or popular by any stretch of the imagination, but I had a group of cherished friends all of which I still talk to even though we all live all over the country. During my twenties, I was a military wife and while Randy was serving in the Air Force, I got very used to making good friends very quickly. When you’re living all over the world and never in one spot for more than a couple of years at a time, friends become family because you’re all depending on each other for survival. And I still talk with many of those friends-turned-family to this day, thanks to social media (only a couple live kinda close to me, and we hang out when we can).

Why Is It So Hard To Make Friends As An Adult?

When Randy separated from the military when we were in our late 20s, I was at the beginning of my photography career. I honestly used my business as a way to get new friends, becoming very close with my makeup artists and other vendors in the industry; not to mention, a few of my clients turned into very close friends as well. I keep in touch with all of them still to this day, but none of them really live close by to me (at least not close enough to be like “come over for dinner tonight!”).

I honestly think that me not being able to separate friendships from business relationships was actually one of the reasons that I ended up closing my business. I always prided myself on being friends with my clients but in retrospect I realize I probably should have made that line a bit more clear. I took everything so personally, and began to base my self-worth on my business and how much people needed (or used) me for my talent with a camera; obviously, that did not end well for me or my mental health. So many people I thought were my friends were really just my clients – people who don’t talk to us anymore after their wedding, because we no longer serve a purpose to them. It’s not to be offensive in any way, because I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and some people can only handle me in small doses. I get it, I am loud and obnoxious sometimes, haha!

Anyway – once I grew up, we left the military and I quit my career – I forgot what it’s like to just make friends.

The truth is: I don’t know how to make friends as a stay at home mom with no affiliations to anyone anywhere anymore.

I’ve spent the last year living in Wisconsin and I have never felt so isolated or alone in my entire life. The pandemic certainly has made things unnecessarily difficult (don’t even get me started on how angry I’m getting about social distancing and masks), and I’ve done the best I can to keep in touch with people on social media. I’ve surrounded myself with my farm animals, and spend my days talking to them and hanging out.

But it’s just not the same.

Truth be told, I miss having barbecues and cooking for friends. I miss church and hugging people. I miss walking into somewhere and being known by name; granted, the folks at our local Tractor Supply know who I am by name at this point, ha ha! Shoot, I even miss waving at people and them waving back because they know who I am and are happy to see me.

weatherford texas mural

Last weekend we went to my friend Danielle’s wedding down in Weatherford, Texas (an hour outside of Fort Worth), and I cannot tell you how amazing it was for me. Danielle’s parents wrapped me in the biggest hugs, as did Danielle and Josh and another friend of mine from middle school. Everywhere we went in Texas was filled with warm smiles and happy Howdy’s and just a feeling of “we’re so happy you’re here.” We had no less than a dozen friends in the Dallas area ask us to come see them, and we didn’t have enough time in town to see any of them.

Ashley Durham Photography

I have to admit: it made me feel so good and so bad all at the same time. I’ve been in such a funk ever since we got on plane to come home yesterday morning, because I realized something: I’m absolutely utterly alone in Wisconsin.

I freaking love Wisconsin, and I am so happy that we moved here because I love the weather and our farm life here. But, and this is a HUGE “but” … we are outsiders. We live in a small town where there are roughly 10,000 residents, filled with multigenerational families and kids who grew up together.

As a mom, this has been the worst year of our lives. I won’t get into details, but here are just a few of the issues we’ve experienced:

  • One of my kids has sat alone at lunch every single day the entire school year, like Cady Heron at the beginning of Mean Girls.
  • Another one of my kids is scared to go to school because a classmate is well-known for being mentally unstable, having brought knives to school and made serious threats against the principal and there is no “zero tolerance” policy in place because this is a small farming community and there’s literally nowhere for this troubled kid to go. And yes, I’ve discussed this at length with the teachers and the principal about it.
  • Two of my kids are on serious doses of depression and anxiety medication.
  • Nearly all of my kids have gone from healthy weights to “obese” because they’re eating their feelings.
  • Another of my kids has gotten so addicted to social media and another kid to gaming because thats the only way they can talk to anyone.
  • One of my kids refuses to play sports anymore, because they know they won’t be welcome on the team because they’re not from here.

If I’m suffering as an adult, it is just about killing me seeing my kids suffer.

No one moves to Wisconsin on purpose,” we’re told. You move here because family is here, or you marry into it, or a job transfers you to Wisconsin where you have job connections. And unfortunately for us, Randy’s day job doesn’t allow us to have friends with his coworkers outside of his job, so we have literally no one here that we hang out with in person.

So I’m putting this out into the world. I’m openly asking for friends and hugs, for BBQs and coffee dates. I am looking for buddies for my kids, that they can be lifelong friends with like I am with Danielle. Is it too much to ask, especially during this endemic era of our lives?

I sure hope not.