Have you ever caught yourself staring off into space in the middle of a conversation while seated with your regular social group at a restaurant table? Have you started to feel out of place and uncomfortable around people that you spend the most time with? If this sounds like you, I invite you to keep reading.
A Daunting First Step
It’s a sad and even scary moment when you realize that you can no longer relate to the people you have shared so much history with. When the conversations turn vapid and the outings become repetitive. Maybe life events have forced you to undergo a tremendous amount of growth and given you new perspective on what you need from relationships.
So, what do you do when you’ve outgrown a friendship? What if your current friend group has been the only one you’ve had for years? How do you go about expanding your social circle as an adult when everyone else seems to be set in their ways? The answer is 1) you reflect and then 2) tackle the fear. Start by thinking about what you need from your friendships and what you are giving. Are you getting back what you are giving? If not, it’s time to consider “weeding the friendship garden” as they say. It’s normal to outgrow people that are no longer contributing to our lives in a positive way. Taking a step back to evaluate your direction is going to be your first step in self-care.
You’re Not Alone
Next, get over the idea that you are the only person going through this. After scouring videos on social media of people discussing this topic, I found one thing to be true that applies to all age groups. So many people are feeling exactly how you are right now. They are lost and craving connection, but they don’t know how to go about finding it. The comment section under those vulnerable videos is overwhelmingly filled with validation and support. Commenters are even leaving their location info and offering their time to meet up.
You are not doomed to grasp at straws trying to salvage something that isn’t working or trying to mold yourself back into who you used to be. It won’t help your self-esteem and it certainly won’t do anything for your happiness. There is no way for you to reverse everything that’s happened to you in life, so you might as well embrace the changes and let them guide you to where you’re meant to be. There are people out there who you won’t have to hide your authentic self from. They are waiting for you to be vulnerable so they too can show their cards.
That’s where “tackling the fear” that I mentioned earlier comes in. Fear can trick us into not straying from what feels familiar, even if it’s slowly eroding our joy. Ultimately, being comfortable is not conducive to positive and profound change. This is going to require action that you have not taken before. Don’t be your worst enemy by harshly judging yourself for being at this stage.
Quality Over Quantity
Now that you’re ready to put yourself out there, utilize the great advantage that this generation has to redefine oneself and finding like-minded people…the internet! Explore new social media platforms designed specifically for this purpose, and most importantly, remember to take your conversations offline. The apps are a tool to set you up for success by showing you compatible matches. It’s entirely up to you to bring down the walls and water those new seeds.
Try a different approach to the way that you use social media. Focus on quality instead of quantity by spending less time swiping and more time carrying on conversations with the matches you have. If you put in some effort and dig a little deeper beyond the small talk, you’ll reach a moment where you find common ground and you’ll both feel more comfortable revealing your personality. Take a real interest in the person you are chatting with and notice how much more willing they are to invest their time in getting to know you as well. This is how you actually move things forward as opposed to having an inbox full of silent strangers.
Lastly, don’t succumb to the pressure of trying to project a perfect image of yourself on your profile. There are already too many popularity contest platforms that showcase your highlight reel and that isn’t what makes people feel connected to you. It’s tempting to curate your profile in a way that makes you look like you have it all together, but people can’t relate to perfection. We are drawn to what’s genuine and real. Deep down, we all want to see a reflection of ourselves in others to feel validated and less alone. Rather than putting on an act, it’s easier to just be honest and attract the people that want to get to know you for the right reasons.