The Hobart

How to Make and Nurture Friendships as an Adult

by Annia Baron
How to Make and Nurture Friendships as an Adult

Five years ago, I walked from Hobart to Launceston. I was aching. My mum had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and I felt compelled to do something to heal the years of witness­ing her decline. My friend Lee thought I was crazy but I knew she believed in me. No matter the weather (and it sure was cold as it was the middle of winter!), she checked in on me daily, sending me messages to see if I was okay. One evening, perhaps sensing my exhaustion, she made the drive from Hobart to Ross and back just to have dinner with me . . . and bring a pair of fresh, dry socks.

True friends are those that no matter what, show up for you – whether you’re hurting or celebrating. They ask how you are and don’t let distance or time be a factor in demonstrating their genuine care and interest in your life. These recipro­cal connections, no matter how many or few we have, keep us feeling good about ourselves, providing significant benefits to our emotional and physical wellbeing.

But making and keeping friends can be complicated. Unlike primary school, where we’re grouped together based on age and postcode, no one teaches us how to initiate and sustain transparent and rewarding friendships in adulthood. We’re just expected to know how to do that. And even if we’re happy with the friends we have, changes that life brings – new jobs, partners, projects or babies – mean we find ourselves questioning our friendship foundations. Perhaps we begin focusing on different values or want to explore new ways of living. Maybe sometimes we feel we’ve outgrown our companions. And with social media in the mix, friendships can feel messier. Despite the likes and comments that we may receive online, many of us can experience a sense of loneliness and increased isolation.

So what can we do when we feel unsure about our friendships?

  • Remind yourself you’re not alone. It’s common to question our position in social circles and feel misaligned at times. Choose to see this as an opportunity to check in with your needs, and what you could start doing more (or less) of to create the friendships you deserve.
  • Get to know your personal values and what you want to stand for. The clearer we are about what we hold most dear to us in friendships (e.g., being able to speak freely without judgment, trust, quality time together etc), the easier it becomes to seek and create situations with people who resonate with a similar mindset.
  • Speak your truth. It’s okay to talk with your friends about how you may have drifted apart or acknowl­edge that the friendship has changed. By doing so, the pressure to keep it ‘looking’ a certain way may lift, freeing you to be more real with one another.
  • Build your tribe by pursuing activ­ities that delight and enliven you. Whether chess, crafts, and roller derby, or meditation, woodwork and bushwalking, social events that satisfy diverse niches exist. And if you can’t find one, be courageous and consider starting your own!
  • Check in. In a world where so much is going on, it’s almost become acceptable for weeks or months to pass before we reply. Let’s reverse this idea that we’re too busy. How about instead, we revolutionise what it means to be a connected commu­nity of people who care about one another. A simple text or a voice recorded message can take one minute of your time but be the very thing that turns someone’s whole week around.

And remember, it’s not about how many friends you have, it’s about the depth and breadth of the connections that matter. So whether you’ve got one Lee in your life or 10, whether you’re content with your friendships or seeking more like-minded kinfolk, take time to honour and cele­brate all the good people you know. Send them that message, write them that letter, surprise them with an unexpected gift. A little bit of love and kindness can go a long way and much like a good pair of socks, the rewards of comfort and support in return will be with you every step of the way.

Annia Baron is a Clinical Psychologist & Mindset Coach. Interested in elevating your mindset to live a life you desire and deserve? Get in touch on 0402 448 278, on Instagram @anniabaron or visit www.remindyourself.com.

Friendship is never defined by age, career status or upbringing. Did you know singer, comedian and author Bette Midler (76) and rapper, actor and businessman 50 Cent (47) are BFFs? After the unlikely pair connected at a Community Garden Project in New York in 2008, they continue to be close and celebrate their friendship.

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May 2024

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