2nd park playground

Making Friends is Hard.

by Jessica Gendron Williams

I have some bad news friends. If you’re reading this, you’re probably not 6 years old anymore.  You’re probably in college – or worse yet – you might be a real grown up with a *gulp* real job.  You’re not a kid anymore and unfortunately that means you’re likely experiencing up bunch of grown up realities – one in particular – that you might be unaware of. Let me paint a picture for you:

It’s a sunny and warm summer day. You wake up, with zero responsibility, eat some breakfast, watch a little TV and then head out to a local park enjoy the sunshine.

As the car pulls up to the park, you look out the window and you’re excited – excited to play, excited to breathe in the fresh air, excited to enjoy the day.  You step out of the car and take off, in a full sprint toward the playground…why?

Because you’re 6 and that’s what 6-year-olds do.

When you arrive to the playground you take a scan for what or who looks fun and choose an activity or group of people to play with.  You walk up to the other kids and say, “Hi. Can I play?”  Without a second thought they welcome you in. You spend hours playing with these complete strangers that you just met.

Wait just a second…did you catch that?  You…walked up to a stranger you’re age and said “Hi” and then hung out with them!?!!?

Before I told you, in the story above,  that you were a six-year-old, you had painted a very different picture of what you might do at the park. Perhaps you’d read a book under at tree, take a nap in the sun, or sit there reading you’re twitter feed on you’re phone.  Making friends when we were six was easy.  You could walk up to just about anyone you’re age and say, “Hi.”

But the realities of adult life have set in.  You’re not a kid anymore.  You don’t spend you’re days on the playground. While you can totally walk up to a stranger and say, “Hi.” Most people aren’t  really as willing to engage. The reality is, now that you’re a big kid (or adult)…

Making friends (now) is hard.

You have to break through all the walls you’ve built up between you and the rest of the world as you grew up – and not only that – you have break through the lifetime of walls someone else has built up, too.  You have to break through people’s perception of what’s normal and appropriate and surprise them in a way that they want to engage, they want to connect with you.  You have to be curious and generous. You have to look up from your cell phone. You have to choose to recapture some of your six-year-old self – to be that kid on the playground.  To tell the truth, that’s hard and scary.

However, when you choose all those things, when you choose to engage and connect and do the hard work it takes – man it’s worth it.  Friendship is worth it.   Real human connection is worth that work.  That stretch, that stress, that anxiety, that hard work – it’s worth it.

You know what’s even more worth it? Brotherhood and sisterhood in a fraternity or sorority. The only thing standing in between the opportunity for you to share the gift of fraternity/sorority with someone else is whether you’re willing to be as brave as you were when you were six. Say, “Hi.”

Making friends is hard, but it’s worth it…