So last night I spent some time listening to my roommate and another friend complain about how much trouble they were having making friends, and how they felt as if no one really liked them. And obviously I understood exactly what they were going through, because that was my high school experience. People I thought were my friends would ignore me, I was often ignored, I felt as if I liked people more than they liked me, etc.
And then my friend (we’ll call her Eliza) looked up at me and said something along the lines of “I don’t get how you’re friends with everyone. You’re so cool.”
After she said that, it took all I had to not burst out laughing. In my mind, I’m not cool. In my mind, I’m not friends with everyone. It was especially shocking to hear this from the mouth of someone who I thought was really good at socializing, backed up by a person who had been to quite a few parties in just the first week of college.
But what I realized was that they weren’t necessarily wrong. I have had a surprisingly easy time making friends. And now, I am in this weird position where I am watching people struggle with the same thing I struggled with for four years. And while I relate to them, and I know how hard it is to make friends in a strange, sometimes hostile environment, I also have no clue what they’re going to. For example, they’ve complained about people they used to talk to no longer acknowledging them in the elevator. That’s something I know; in high school, there were so many people who just stopped talking to me. And yet now, in college, I still have conversations with the people who ignore my friends (and they’re the ones who start it).
So right now I feel both confused and sort of helpless. Confused because this is the first time in a long time that I’m the one with friends, trying to reassure people who are insecure about that. Helpless because even though I really, really want to help, I don’t know what to do to make them feel better. All I can do is be the best possible friend I can be to them, but I’m worried that it won’t be enough.