Making Friends vs. Becoming Friends
We often see those terms as being interchangeable. Indeed when I am speaking casually I often use them as such. But they are not.
According to Merriam-Webster, the first listed current definition of “make” is;
“to cause to happen”
The first current definition for “become” given by the same dictionary is;
“to come into existence”.
Despite there being some overlap in the secondary meanings of both words, these two initial definitions are quite distinct. They are the definitions I am using pertaining to friendship.
It could be truly said that I almost never truly make friends.
This doesn’t mean I have social anxiety, per se. I walk in crowds all the time. I order food, give directions and such. Nor am I anti-social. I respond to small talk that is initiated by someone else. A little bit. But I am just not in the business of “making” things like that happen. It isn’t me.
I do not go to bars or clubs with the express purpose of making new friends or even acquaintances. When invited to a party I converse almost exclusively with those I already know, unless introduced to someone else. If I know only a few people at a very large party, I usually will not attend at all. I don’t strike up conversations in elevators, and I do not start chats with people in check out lines.
Again, in short, I do not make friends.
They do, however, often “make me” as I say. But when I want to write in the active voice, (as we are supposed to), I say “Jane and I became friends.”
This is usually due to me and “Jane” engaging in the same activity. It is no coincidence that 90% of my current friends are people I met through theatre. Theatre is one of the only social activities I engage in on a regular basis that involves large numbers of people who are initially strangers. Also, being in the trenches of rehearsing and performing a live show can bring people together quite efficiently. Friendships “come into existence” on and behind the stage due to mutual struggle and passion.
I engage in no other activities that consistently bring friendships into existence. (One of the cons of freelancing.)
My relationships are always built on mutual activity. They form as a result of pursuing something else with others because the inner natures of both me and the other people are more accessible that way.
Now, I can practically hear all of my new Twitter and Brazen Careerist acquaintances choking on their coffee as they read this one. I can hear word for word what they would say both as individuals,and collectively as some sort of Gen-Y Borg Cube:
“You need to acquire the ability to make friends. How can you not be out there, exchanging your business card, talking up your freelance skills, shaking hands, exchanging phone numbers, going to tweet-ups? You may not like it, but you are doomed to failure in this day and age if you can’t go into bars, group activities, even libraries and just start introducing yourself to people around you. The world turns because of extroverts. Be one of them.”
My new contacts are good people. I like them. I have learned much from them in the six months or so I have been engaged with them via various new social media. They mean well in most cases, and I appreciate it. And in many cases they are correct.
But not in all, and probably not in this one.
For I am Too XYZ to be like that. I fully realize that being that way does make things happen faster in many cases. And as has been the case with many people, I am doing more “virtual friend making” thanks to the internet. It allows me to behave more like the hand shaking conversation starting extrovert at Starbucks. But I will never be him.
I am sure I will attend a Tweet-up one of these days. But even if I do it will not be like it is for most people, because I just do not posses those skills or that personality. I think those that have it really don’t understand that people like us that are Too XYZ can no more evolve out of some of our traits than we could suddenly turn into another race or gender. It just isn’t there.
I am not ashamed of this. Too often we are asked to rewrite our DNA because we are told “that’s just the way it is, like it or not.” Those words are often spoke, with ease, by people who were born to be the way they are asking me to become. I long to improve, but I do not long to change, and there is a difference.
So my goal is to seek out, learn about, and if needs must, personally create new means by which people like me can make the connections that need to be made, while not feeling like we are wasting our time trying to be something we are not. I have spent a lifetime doing this in small degrees, so now it is simply a matter of enlarging the scale of it. My “tweeps” have already helped me do this in some regard. But I know in large degree it is up to me to dig that unorthodox path myself. Or at least with the help and advice of fellow Too XYZers out there.
Is this you? I want to hear how you maneuver in the world of friends if it is. Comment me.