YEP Crew Blog Post – Fatema Shalemie: A Guide on the Mystical Task of Friend-Making

The world is a big place with over 7 billion people. If you feel out of place, just know that you are not the only one. If you feel that no one can relate to you, it might be because you haven’t met “your people” just yet. They are waiting for you, just like you might be waiting for them.

If you think the idea of me writing on how to make friends is childish, then you probably don’t realise how hard it can be for some of us to make friends. It’s great that you can do it with ease but don’t take it for granted. If you see someone struggling to make friends or even to get a word in, give them the opportunity to.

I understand socialising can be hard, I myself identified as a misanthrope, as extreme as it sounds. And if you’re the same, maybe it’s not our lack of interest in people that makes us feel this way, but the lack in sense of belonging around certain people. It’s not always an easy task to find your people, especially when others make it look so easy. But the idea is that you don’t have to get along with everyone you meet and you don’t have to work to maintain a relationship that isn’t making you happy.

I always had great difficulty in making friends and I accepted that people weren’t for me (cats forever). But nowadays people tell me that’s hard to believe because we instantly connected and “I’m so confident”. To that, I laugh internally because that’s far from the truth. And it’s not just me, even the most “extroverted” and easy going people you meet have/had a hard time socialising and finding their place in the world.

Please don’t ever compare yourself to anyone that you feel has it better than you. In the instances where I’m told that I exude confidence, I feel like I’m living a lie. Making friends takes practice. I went through years of friendships that only existed because I had no one else to hang out with and I though that’s what I needed to fit in. There comes a point where you realise that you don’t have to be friends with everybody and if you’ve been trying to, that might be what’s making it so hard to maintain friendships. Having one friend can be fulfilling.

Take healthy risks – it’s what helped for me. Try doing something you love with a community of other people who enjoy the same. Having a common interest will give you something to talk about. While it might sound twofaced, faking confidence can help more than you think. If you’re nervous in public settings, remember that people can’t read your mind and hence, it can be easier to open up. I know it sounds counterintuitive but hear me out. I’ve tested it out before and what always helps me loosen up is knowing that if I make an “embarrassment” of myself, I will (likely) never see those people again. It also helps build resilience, in that you had the confidence to do something you or anyone else might deem embarrassing, but no one else had the courage to do the same.

It’s helped me be more open to asking questions publicly or even talking about something taboo like sexual health, in communities that keep it hush hush. Even if no one admits it, they might be grateful for you stepping out of your comfort zone and seeking answers because they themselves might not be ready to. On that note, try to be that person who breaks the ice. It’s a daunting prospect but it has its rewards.

In fact, people might want to be your friend right now but don’t feel confident in approaching you and they might be going through what you are. It sounds unlikely but it’s not uncommon and it’s happened to me. Don’t assume no one wants to be your friend because no one has approached you either.

If like me, you get intimidated by gorgeous looking people and easily jealous, don’t let that put you off talking to them. Even people with a naturally resting bitch face. Often, they turn out to be the nicest people I ever meet. Try initiating conversation with a compliment. I feel like people don’t say enough nice things about each other. And who knows, they might be jealous of one or many of your qualities too. Also, you shouldn’t just follow a trend to fit in. Set your own trends. You never know who might want to be your friend because of your unique qualities.

When it comes to losing friends or unsuccessfully making a friend, it can be upsetting but it also adds resilience. Try not to take it personally and use it as a valuable lesson. Over time you’ll realise that it’s ok to drift apart. We’re all changing as we gain more experience and what you were like in high school, might not be what you’re like in 5 yearsโ€™ time.

I wish you good luck in your quest to making friends and remember, if it doesn’t work out with one person, you still have 7 billion other people to meet!

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Jesse Altham

Hey! My name is Jesse and Iโ€™m a 23 year old from Fremantle, WA. Iโ€™m finishing up my Diploma of Youth Work with North Metro TAFE, completing my last practical placement here with the YEP crew. I am extremely passionate about politics, advocacy and education and Iโ€™m so fortunate to be working with YEP in the space of peer education.

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