When I was in the 8th grade I started at a new school. I began school with a friend, she attended church with a friend from my old school so I thought I’d be pretty set, one friend is more than most new students get.
But then, MIDDLE SCHOOL. (if you don’t understand that statement you were one of the lucky ones who perpetrated MIDDLE SCHOOL and don’t have awkward scars to show for it)
Several sad solo lunches and a week of moping in class got me sent to the guidance counselor’s office where I was given a handy handout titled: “Making Friends, for Gifted Kids” (At least it had a small compliment while implying complete social ineptitude).
I wish I could remember exactly what it said but I think the gist was, yes, you may be smart but if you want friends you should not treat all the other 8th graders like the idiots that they so obviously are. I don’t know how many of the tips I enacted but things turned around and I eventually was ushered back into the group while some other poor soul got their turn in MIDDLE SCHOOL.
I held on to that hand out for many years and would sometimes pull it out to giggle about it or maybe when I was fighting with one of my friends (as high school girls tend to do) secretly check the tips to make sure I was in the right (perhaps it should have said something about not always needing to be right…). I wouldn’t be surprised if I dug through the old boxes in my parent’s basement I might even come upon it. I bring it up because I feel like I kind of need it, now.
Not to brag but I have a healthy number of friends and my friends are pretty rad, some are so rad I’ve kept them for over 25 years (that makes me feel old).
The trouble is I have NO CLUE how to make a new friend.
There are people I see, some even weekly who I like and I think are funny and would be fun to hang out with outside of our volunteer gig or exercise class but aside from awkwardly asking, “Want to grab a drink sometime” or “Oh hey, want to be my friend?” (both of which in my head always come across as extremely creepy). I just don’t know how to do it.
Where’s the guidance counselor when I really need her? She must have a hand out titled, “Making Friends, in your 30s when you aren’t drunk.”