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Forums / Multicultural experiences / making friends difficult

Topic: making friends difficult

9 posts, 0 answered
  1. sowhat
    sowhat avatar
    1 posts
    7 March 2020

    Hi,

    I am just wondering about peoples experience of making friends. I am Australian but spent time (10 years) living in Canada and know the feeling of isolation experienced when you are in a new place. Since coming back to Australia I seem to be unable to make friends even though I am proactive in trying to. I have volunteered, joined sporting groups, tried to get involved in the local community, even completed another degree in university but although I try I only seem to make superficial acquaintances and really feel like a loser because of this. I have read some threads that seem to illustrate that many people also feel this way. I am wondering why this seems to be such a common thing and wonder what we can do about it. As a society we do not seem to be very inclusive and whilst there is a large contingency of people feeling he way I do, how do we connect with others in our community who obviously also desire the same thing. Any input into this conversation would be greatly appreciated.

    1 person found this helpful
  2. Peppermintbach
    Valued Contributor
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    Peppermintbach avatar
    4558 posts
    7 March 2020 in reply to sowhat

    Hi sowhat,

    I feel for you. I feel for your loneliness & feelings of frustration at trying to form meaningful friendships...

    I completely agree with you that it seems to be a common issue that a lot of people struggle with, & that perhaps it reflects something about our society &/or the way in which we interact with each other.

    I think it’s fantastic that you’re proactive. I admire your efforts to make friends by volunteering, joining sports group, etc. You’re putting yourself out there, & I feel that’s very brave.

    I think possibly what happens is if we connect with people over 1-2 common interests (e.g. sports) the friendship may not deepen simply because the basis of the friendship is quite literally just those 1-2 common interests. Also, I think there are people who don’t necessarily join groups to make friends; they are predominantly there for the activity itself & not much else.

    My personal experience with forming deeper friendships is it helps to let people see the richness & depth of who we are, & not just 1-2 interests, because we are so much more than that...

    For example, someone much be a keen athlete, struggles with anxiety, loves gardening, passionate about alleviating homelessness, works 2 jobs, highly sensitive, loves the beach & is caring.

    Granted, that is purely a hypothetical example, but I suppose what I’m getting at is in order to have deep friendships, I feel it helps to show our richness & depth....

    So, I would suggest maybe try building on the relationships that you have with your acquaintances. Maybe ask them out for coffee or lunch, & try to talk about a range of things. Let the conversation flow, & I would suggest not limiting it to whatever the club/society/organisation that brought you together.

    Sure, yes, some people might say “no” or show up, & have no interest in deepening the relationship. Rejection hurts, but I think if you try often enough, hopefully you’ll start finding those people who are also looking for deeper friendships :)

    Personally, I have build some incredible friendships by initially connecting with people over 1-2 common interests, but then deepening it by showing the many sides of who I am as a person.

    By showing my “range” & connecting with people outside of what initially drew us together, that’s how those deeper friendships happened for me :)

    I hope this maybe gives you some ideas...

    Kindness & care,

    Pepper

    1 person found this helpful
  3. pottertings
    pottertings avatar
    2 posts
    7 May 2020 in reply to sowhat

    Hi so what,

    I completely agree that as a society we market ourselves as being inclusive, but in reality it seems like a more selective inclusivity. I find it easier to make friends when travelling than my own home country; especially non-english speaking countries!!

    You're incredibly brave having put yourself out there joining groups, volunteering, local community events and etc. I feel like Peppermintbatch has perfectly encapsulated how to deepen relationships with people you meet or are already friends with.

    May I also suggest online community groups? I have recently discovered the beauty of facebook groups and have joined a couple of groups about things that I am passionate about. In my experience, I have found it easier to connect to people in the group via online before moving the relationship to face-to-face. I personally feel like the online aspect removed a lot of the stigma and expectations on myself, and allowed me to have deeper conversations. There was definitely a bit of awkwardness when I first met with some of the group members, but after about 10 min it felt completely normal.

    I imagine the current climate of Coronavirus has made it a bit more difficult given that many social clubs or community organisations are closed. But I would definitely encourage looking up some online groups e.g social groups, fan groups or community groups.

    I'll be keeping my eye out on this thread and would love to know how you've been going

    Keep well & safe

    pottertings

    3 people found this helpful
  4. gucia6
    gucia6 avatar
    39 posts
    9 July 2020

    I am so glad I found this thread.

    I am having serious problems making friends and getting closer to people in general. One thing is I am always aware of my speech (English is my 3rd language, I make mistakes, my accent is funny), I feel terrified meeting new people (this little voice in my head saying " they probably think I am not worth their attention"), I am somewhat shy and need a moment to get used to the presence of a stranger in front of me and compose myself (but it may be already too late, the first impression left would be that I am unfriendly, cold, unapproachable, rude or arrogant).

    In recent years I got involved in sporting club, where I also started instructing (being recognized helped improve my self esteem a lot). But every time I teach, I have to prepare the program well, and even though I enjoy sharing my knowledge and skills, I am always relieved (and exhausted) when it is over. (some love-and-hate relationship here).

    I also got closer to some people, but I still feel like outsider, as if I didn't quite fit. Not because they don't like me, but more because of a thick barrier I built over years of unhealthy emotional growing up environment, bullying at school, mistrust and disappointment in people after being abandoned by 'friends' who did not want to deal with the trouble, violence through one relationship.

    But just recently I realized of existence of this barrier and how impenetrable it may appear to others (and how impenetrable it is for me). I also noticed I am focusing on my own drama too much, after all everyone fights their own battle out there every day. I know I am not a talker and rarely ask questions, but it may be taken as lack of interest, but I am working on that. I am struggling with the horrible feeling of being left behind and the 'unfairness' that to some people the friendships are coming just like that.

    But also some of those people I would like to get close to, did notice I have not been quite right recently. I actually honestly told them I have some sort of problem. They did not push me away or ridicule me. They offered supporting ear and talking to them put me back on the reasonable track. I still have long way to go, but at least now I know that those people will be worthy my efforts to improve myself. And even if in the end no close friendship blooms, at least I hope that whatever I learn now will be helpful in building relationships in the future.

    1 person found this helpful
  5. Emmen
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    Emmen avatar
    175 posts
    9 July 2020 in reply to gucia6

    Hello gucia6,

    Making friends is not always an easy task, as you've learnt yourself. It sounds like you've unfortunately (and unconsciously) started hindering your own relationships with people. That's because you've already marked yourself out as an 'other' to the people you meet - that is, the one who can't converse as fluently in English, the one whose accent is "funny".

    Accents are all beautiful in their own way, they all tell their own stories about your history. There's nothing about yours that makes it strange and I do think you should realise that while it can make you different, there's nothing negative about it. As for being fluent in English, practice makes perfect. Keep going at it and you'll soon find that it'll become easier for you to converse in it.

    About the voice that tells you that you're not worth someone's attention, may I know why you think that? What is it about you that makes you not worthy of knowing? It's worth reflecting on this because a lot of times, this kind of thinking results from our own insecurities about ourselves rather than to have any concrete basis.

    I used to find it hard to socialise too. But then I learnt this trick that has worked so far. Whenever I don't know what to say, I just smile and look friendly. A smile sets people at ease, so even if you run out of things to say, the other person isn't going to think you've put up a barrier and don't want to continue talking.

    Not all friendships progress to a deeper level. In fact, I'd say most of our friendships tend to remain surface-level. And that's okay. Once in a while, something happens and one of those friendships grows deeper. But it's usually because of the circumstances (e.g. you ended up spending more time together or happened to confide in each other about something). You mentioned that some of the people you would like to get close to did notice you haven't been feeling right lately. Perhaps your friends are closer to you than you think they currently are? After all, for them to notice there is something wrong with you already requires some closeness between you and them - an acquaintance certainly wouldn't be able to tell.

    Life is always a journey and I'm glad you're looking towards the relationships you can build in the future. You're right, even if these friends don't work out, you'll definitely have learnt something that will help you build relationships in the future.

    All the best.

    Warmly,
    M

    1 person found this helpful
  6. White Rose
    Community Champion
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    White Rose avatar
    6205 posts
    9 July 2020 in reply to sowhat

    Hello Sowhat and a wave to all.

    Making friends is supposed to be easy and those friendships we have carried from school to adulthood are fantastic. Not much shyness there and a common environment to talk about helped no end. BTW I know some school children suffered badly but I am making a very general statement.

    I very much agree with Pepper about being with those with whom we have only a few commonalities. Does make it harder. Some of my closest friends I met in church where we were all in one place for a common reason. We talked generally over m/tea etc and got to know others. Reproducing this scenario in other areas may be helpful.

    I also found that in organisations where I volunteered for a specific role I got to know more about the group members. Jobs could include being secretary, organising outings, greeting people. Your face becomes known and you can put names to other faces. Might not seem much but if you meet them in the street it's good to greet the person by name and stop and chat for a minute. I found this led to spontaneous invitations to go for a coffee and the acquaintanceship prospered from there.

    A natural shyness often stops us from doing these things especially if we have been told by family how awkward we are. In general I think people recognise shyness and make allowances for it. It's us that get embarrassed and think no one wants to chat to us. So focus on the other person and on what he/she is saying and follow their lead. Even if the topic is not one you are particularly interested in it's good to join in as much as possible. The topic will change because it always does or you can introduce a change by asking a question.

    We often think we are the socially inept person but it's just as likely the other person is a little shy with someone new as well. I know it's not easy but imagine you are trying to put the other person at ease. This may help you to become a little more relaxed. What would you like someone to say to you? Hope this helps.

    Mary

    1 person found this helpful
  7. gucia6
    gucia6 avatar
    39 posts
    13 July 2020 in reply to Emmen

    Hi Emmen.

    Thank you for your words.

    And you actually asked a very valid question and you are right, my way of thinking comes from insecurities. Funny enough I had similar conversation recently and I heard something very interesting regarding this matter, what gave me all new world to consider and try to look at things differently.

    I realized I was measuring my worth with my achievements. Whether it was external goal (e.g. delivering a project to the deadline, getting a new job, being recognized for what I did). And if I failed or my best efforts went unnoticed I ended up thinking I am not good enough. Or internal expectations like "yup, I will keep my cool on the meeting", but then getting completely lost because of some sudden question I am unable to answer, leaving me feeling unreliable, or even taking the step and going for a beer after work with others thinking "yes, I will manage, I will have conversation with someone, somehow", but then not managing to blend in, sitting there overwhelmed and too shy to actually say something. I am smiling and looking friendly OK, but I am feeling lonely, start retreating into myself again and eventually leave under whatever pretext, quite exhausted and frustrated, and angry.

    But I was told that people are amazing for who they are, not for what they did or what heights they reached.

    I also had quite a few conversations with couple of people I feel comfortable around and none of them pushed me away, I actually received quite a bit of support. I even tried asking some generic questions that led to some more engaged exchange and following occurred to me:

    Why would anyone go out to me if I am not coming out first?

    And why should I push myself to go in the crowds if I can have a building conversation with one or two people?

    But anyway, the crisis I went through now, even though quite painful, it created a good opportunity for change.

  8. Emmen
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    Emmen avatar
    175 posts
    15 July 2020 in reply to gucia6

    Hello gucia6,

    I'm glad you're seeing this crisis as an opportunity for change. A positive attitude always makes a daunting task so much easier, and I'm sure with some persistence, you will find it easier to make friends. You're absolutely right - people are amazing for who they are, and not for what they have achieved. Everybody has stories to tell, everybody has opinions to share. There is so much interesting diversity around us...and we are a part of this diversity.

    Keep practicing asking questions and keeping conversation flowing. I hope that the next time we hear from you, you feel more confident and happy about your ability to make friends.

    Cheers,
    M

  9. Jasjit
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Jasjit avatar
    11 posts
    12 August 2020

    Hi Everyone!

    I am so glad that I found this post!!! Because I always had difficulty in making friends - you know coming from India and there was a cultural change. Since childhood and up til now - I have learned that the biggest and the most important friend of you is you! It took me ten years to understand this!

    I did everything to make friends at school! Sometimes, to the other person, I came across as I was begging someone to be my friend. Then this resulted in bullying - school bullying and physical abuse.

    So what I got from there was if you love yourself - you don't need any friends. Just a tip that I understood from all these years and wanted to share it with you, everyone!

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