I don’t know much about keeping friends, but I do know a very little about making friends.
See I spent my childhood with only one or two friends at a time. I had a lot of time to observe.
Then I blossomed. I discovered drama, and theatre people, and figured out how to make friends.
You see, theatre people are a whole other species. Really. Anyone who has been or knows someone who has been a theatre person, knows this.
The actors spend their time observing humanity from the outside in, and performing to feel it from the inside out.
The writers observe and deliberate over nuance and context, seeing plot in every sentence.
The directors find relationship dynamics and power shifts in every movement, every volume level, feeling to pull those strings at the right time to form the right message.
The stage managers see everything. They know all. And they are everywhere.
The tech crew work harder than anyone gives them credit, creating art out of nothing, out of negative space, and for the most part, they do it smiling.
It was here I found my niche. You don’t become a theatre person. You just are one. Even after you sell out to corporate life for drugs and money.
So what are you?
What activity turns you on? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing?
Because if you’re looking to attract new friends, that is where I would start. With something that, even if you don’t make a lasting people connection straight off the bat, at least you’ll have fun swinging.
My father played in a recreational baseball league until he was 50. My sister continues to play volleyball after college. My mother travels. Her spouse joins the Rotary club.
I read, and swim lengths, and go for walks and movies – all things that can be done in groups, but I usually end up solo.
Why? I don’t know.
I think that acting is my thing. I am an actor. Even though it’s not lucrative (for me), and it’s time consuming (like you wouldn’t believe, unless, you know… you know), theatre people, they are my people. That is the one social circle I’ve ever felt like I fit into.
Who are your people?
If you don’t know, if you’ve never had that “Aha, click” moment of just sliding into place, start with an activity you’ve always wanted to try.
But mostly, I’d think of the things you remember doing as a kid. My sister, and father, and mother, and stepmom all played sports – competition is their thing.
I’ve liked reading and imagining myself in stories and imagining stories around me since I could read. Having an audience’s attention without having them staring at me, myself, is all I could ever ask for out of life. It just is. But I would go nuts if I had to talk about fouls and technicalities and scoring averages. I just don’t care about winning or losing in that sense. I see the beauty of sport, but the competition part just misses me.
So – do you like talking sports? See if you can join an adult recreation league in your area. Or hang out on game night at your local watering hole instead of in your own den.
Enjoy the arts? Join your local community theatre, or volunteer to usher at performances.
Is food or cooking what gets you going? Take some classes in a cuisine that’s unfamiliar to you, or learn how to frost cakes with all those flowers and leaves.
Love languages? There’s usually “X” as a second language courses at your local college or university.
Whatever it is, once you’re there, find one person who you find approachable, and strike up a conversation. It may be difficult at first. But just start with one person. Listen, and share your thoughts. It will get easier.
There is something about surviving something – even something as small as a play, a season, an exam – that bonds people together. You stop being a collection of individuals and become Mme. Leclerc’s 6:00 class. Or the cast of Footloose. Or the Flaming Weasels, most improved team of the season…
Whatever it is, as long as it’s an activity you enjoy, and you can do it with others who enjoy it, you will find a community, and you will find that you belong.