In this adulting thing, you don’t really notice the friendship vacuum until you’re 25 and only your mum calls you. If you find that relatable, you’re not alone. This struggle is more common than you’d think.
I spoke with 7 Nigerians to find out what making friends as an adult is like for them, and how they navigate this part of the “twenties” phase.
Friendships seemed easier when we were younger because of places where people of the same age group would gather; school, church, Mosque, and the streets where we played. Also, there was a lot of free time then. It’s the same in the university where people of the same age group and similar interests are gathered in one place. But once you get out of the university in your twenties, you’re looking for different things. For some people, it’s friends, relationships, business partners, or friends with benefits. The ease or difficulty then depends on what one is looking for. Our immediate environment doesn’t necessarily offer a place where people of similar interests can gather. You have to intentionally create them, that is why it feels a bit more difficult. Before, it was certain that if I go to class at 12 p.m. I’ll meet people of my age group doing the same subjects, and care about similar things as I do, and I can pick a friend among them. Now, there’s no schedule. Most times you are going to work, church, and all of that where you come across people with different objectives and interests. So, you have to identify people who have similar interests as you and ensure they want you as well. That is what makes it look difficult, but it really isn’t. People still make amazing friends. There’s even have a wider option. You could make friends with someone far out in Japan or Australia, and thanks to being in your twenties, you can travel to all of these places and nobody will tell you you can’t go anywhere or you’re too young to travel on your own.
I’ll say it’s just in-between. As much as I seem more open-minded and find it easier making friends now, I still find it difficult being a really good friend and building a relationship with people, because life happens. I’m literally just scared of all who come my way as I can’t really tell those who are genuine or not. I was an only child for a long time, and grew up to be all alone. Then in secondary school I had friends, but then I tried making more than one person a priority and it didn’t work out well. There was always quarrelling because of this one person. I tried to settle things, but shit happened so I had to change schools. When I got to the new school, I was all alone there because I was still bleeding as a result of my experience in the former school. It was a same-sex school, and that affected how I relate with the opposite sex. Although, I recently started trying to navigate that, I’ve discovered that guys hardly want to remain just friends. So, I’m in-between shutting them out or not. I’ve grown to be quiet because I don’t ever find my kind of people. It’s tiring and I feel alone most of the time.
For me, it’s easier making friends now. In secondary school, I always tried to fit in and never really got around to doing that. I wasn’t cool enough for the cool kids or weird enough for the weird kids, so I was on the edge of both groups. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends but it was kind of out of necessity and proximity. Now, it’s much easier because I know what I want in a friend. It’s just about going to places or having people with similar interests. Though life and adulting is not ready to give you time to go out and make friends, at least I know whenever I find time, I’ll make quality friends. I’ll always go for quality over quantity any day.
Adulting sucks, true, and life’s happening to everyone all at once, but I won’t say that’s why adult friendships seem harder. I’ve realised that it’s about our response to the situations life throws at us. So, for me, I first look out for how a person handles challenges before I make a move to be their friend. I feel when you see someone that’ll be a potential long-term friend, you can tell. It’s in the way they reciprocate your energy. There’ll be mutual likeness and effort. The conversation will flow naturally, and you’ll be able to relate on different levels. Also, when we understand that we’re not the only ones life is “happening” to, it adds a certain layer of comfort to the friendship.
I’m more or less an introvert and this makes building friendships both easy and hard at the same time. Sometimes the whole thing just gives me anxiety, coupled with the fact that life seems to be happening fast. I have thoughts like: What if I’m not able to do well at school? Why are things moving so fast? Can we all fucking slow down? I don’t think it’s fair how life is happening all at once. There’s no space to breathe. Even if you say you want to calm down and breathe, omo before you know it, you’ve wasted time. Then you have to struggle to catch up again. Sometimes I wish I was an inanimate object like a ball or chair. It’s very tough.
Thankfully, I have close friends from when I was in Yabatech. We don’t talk that much, because everyone is hustling and bustling, but when we see, it’s like old times. Making friends has been hard. I used to know how to hold a conversation, but now, everything don wipe. I get tired easily and find myself at a loss for words. I’m trying to force myself to start shooting friendship shots though.
It’s hard to make friends because I don’t go out. I met most of the people I know on the internet. Again, I don’t approach people even if I like them. I’m not going to say, “Let’s be friends.” I’m more receptive when people come on to me. I also never really had friends while growing up because there was no time. It was either home, church, or my mum’s shop where I used to help out, and that’s how I got accustomed to staying on my own. When I see close-knit friend groups, especially females, I kind of wish I had that. Making friends is even harder for me when it comes to guys. They mostly just want to have sex with you or they don’t take you seriously. I noticed that when guys come across opportunities, they always share it with their male friends, never the females. It’s like they see you, but they don’t really see you. Then girls at this my age mostly talk about guys and marriage, but those things don’t interest me much. I hardly find people who match my vibe, mental capacity or who just “get” me. Right now, I don’t even have the time to invest in finding such people, because my life mostly revolves around work. It sucks, but what can I say?