Written by Evi Idoghor
Making friends as an adult can be compared to pulling teeth, as many people live by mantras such as "no new friends" or "you can't sit with us," which have caused most adults in their 20s and even 30s, to remain hidden in their shells, lacking the necessary skills to form valuable friendships with others. With many people, particularly the young, or Generation Z, becoming more interested in trending on social media, the concept of valuable friendships is frequently called into question.
This was not the case when I was an older adolescent about to start college. Before I knew it, I was thrown into a country that was very different from where I was from. Finding myself in this foreign land compelled me to latch unto a group of young ladies who have now become a permanent part of my life. We were all Nigerians living as foreigners in a foreign country.
It is easier to form bonds with your own people when you are away from home, because they present you with something familiar. When you are in your own country, surrounded by your own people, you tend to take them for granted. For some reason, I didn't have a lot of American or foreign friends who weren't African - believe me, I'm not racist. It just happened to be that way.
I was wallowing in self-pity the other day as I prepared dinner in my kitchen. “God, I can't wait to start living with my husband and having children,” I muttered. I yearned for the days when I lived with both parents, a sibling, and numerous cousins, as well as those who served my parents in some way. Furthermore, my displeasure with the feeling of loneliness caused me to reflect on my time in Lafayette.
My friends and I lived only a few minutes apart. As if that wasn't enough, we were constantly in each other's apartments, eating, playing games, studying, and, of course our all-time favorite — bonding over Nollywood movies. There was no room for loneliness; if you had any negative feelings, which were rare, it was that you needed your space, perhaps to catch some sleep. On Sundays, that was me, but one of my friends never let me be. “Don't worry, you wouldn't even know I'm here, and I won't disturb your sleep,” she often said. But we'd end up jisting and watching TV shows, and my Sunday nap would be ruined.
The bond I formed and nurtured with these ladies over the years proved unbreakable when I faced life's challenges, particularly after I was deported. These girls assisted me in packing my apartment, selling most of my household items, and shipping my personal belongings to Nigeria.
I recall my boss disparaging me in front of my co-workers during a morning meeting, and how I called two of my friends, fighting back tears, to tell them about my ordeal. Their worried expressions said it all. They carried the matter on their heads (as we say in Nigeria) as if they were the ones in distress.
From their never-ending phone calls to sending me money when I need it without complaint, it's difficult for me to want anything else when God has blessed me with such wonderful women in my life.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17
Contrary to what the media, particularly social media, promotes, we require people with whom to share our lives. Life isn't always a bed of roses. There are times when life-altering events occur, and if you don't have good people on your side, it will be even more difficult to get through. I've called friends crying on the phone, and they've called me crying as well. Even just a listening ear, or the assurance that everything will be fine, can make a person feel better.
When I see people who don't have meaningful friendships, I wonder how they get through life. God has blessed me with valuable friendships as well as valuable family members. Because not everyone is blessed with both - some have good family members who love and support each other, but not so much with friends. Others are estranged from their families but are able to rely on their friendships. If you are lacking in any of these areas, you can pray to God to connect you with the right people.
How Can I Build Valuable Friendships?
Don’t become entitled too quickly: There are people who admire you and want to befriend you, but they go about it the wrong way. They become entitled in their pursuit, burdening you with questions like - Why didn't you call me when you noticed my absence? Why didn't you tell me this or that? Entitlement, especially when unearned, will only keep people at arm's length from you. Such personality traits portray you as desperate and possessive.
Don’t force it: Nobody likes a pushy person when it comes to building friendships. Be gentle. Every now and then, text messages like “hey, just checking in, how are you doing?” Are the first steps toward developing a relationship with someone. After a short period of time, you can invite the person to lunch, and depending on their response, you will either have the green light to pursue a further relationship with them, or the indicator which shows their disinterest – you should be fine with both outcomes.
Pray about it: Prayerfully consider those who you want to be in your life. Not everyone around you is looking out for your best interests. Some people may be there to take advantage of you, while others may wish to harm you. I've had this happen before, which is why I'm wary of trusting just anyone with my friendship.
Be understanding: As an adult, you must learn to be understanding, acknowledging that people are at different stages of their lives and may not give you all the time you require at any given moment. I'm not upset if I open Instagram and see that my friend is on vacation on a remote island. In fact, most of the time, I think to myself, “Oh, no wonder she wasn't responding to my messages...” This has happened on a few occasions. There is nothing to sulk about as long as you understand the value of your relationship.
It is beneficial to have people in your life who genuinely care for you. Just as you desire valuable friends to whom you can turn in times of need, I hope others can turn to you in their time of need.
What do you think about this article? Leave your thoughts below. Also, remember to like, share and click the subscribe button at the top to receive our articles directly to your inbox.
Wait, there's more! Click this link to discover more articles in our relationship segment.
Images used in this article are courtesy of Unsplash