So I’ve been feeling the need to put myself out there more in terms of making new friends. Or rather cultivating relationships with people I already somewhat know but did not pursue. For a long time, I’ve felt that I don’t have the time to have new people in my life, but now I feel like I need to step it up a bit in that department and go beyond the one and a half pukka friend and the handful of circulating lunch buddies I have.
Ironically, now that I’ve done this, two out of the three people I magnanimously reached out to turned me down. I’m not really gutted. The fact is that none of these people were poeple I had a huge intense spark with – in case that’s even a thing anymore – and I’m not entirely footloose and fancy free in terms of time, money and energy so it’s all good. I can live with my current situation of sparse friendships, just that I’d like to have more variety.
And then, when I do go out, there’s the problem of coming away not entirely happy with the experience.
For example, I push V to hang out at least once a month with a certain couple but almost every time the woman annoys me. I keep the thing going because weirdly, she seems the type of person I would get along with, and we’ve had a couple of really good conversations, but by and large she is just too judgy and opinionated about other people’s opinions (which I know is rich coming from me, but I hope I don’t express my dissent quite so condescendingly). It doesn’t bother me anymore because I’ve realised she’s not personally attacking me and this is more her problem than mine, but I still wonder if I really want to deal with it.
Or I go out once every couple of months with the group from my office. The fact is that we are too old, too different and have our own lives and so don’t really hang out more often. There are some nice people there, but still, sometimes I come away … overthinking things that were said and feeling unsure of myself. Now I’m resigned to the fact that this is going to happen with new people, but it’s frustrating that it has to happen with people I’ve hung out with for a while.Specifically, this time there is new guy who has appointed himself the arbiter of taste and feels the need to declare what is good food, high fashion, etc. in contradiction to my much humbler opinions on the subject. I know he is playing up this European man about town thing, but I still find it embarrassing. I could either shut him down with a clever rejoinder, shut him down rudely, or ignore him and I’ve done all three, but it annoys me that I have to do it (I know, I know this is part and parcel of actually interacting with people, but really why?). On the other hand, there’s a guy I got quite close to, who will suddenly go quiet and contribute exactly zero to the conversation, then making me the blabbermouth who keeps (over)sharing.
And of course, this could be entirely be attributed to my unsocialized, insecure self, but I also wish that people just … behaved better. I wonder if it’s me, other people, or the generally restricted pool of potential peeps in Hong Kong, despite a seeming abundance of friendly people, that explains this situation.
What I’m hoping is that there were more people out there I did not find annoying (and who equally do not find me annoying). That it would be possible to have this social interaction without coming away feeling jellyfished at the end of it (a term from Bridget Jones’s Diary about the girl -Rebecca – who seems harmless but makes these really condescending remarks and glides off leaving you to feel the sting too late).
To be fair, on the night out with office peeps, I did meet this guy who I’ve met a couple of times before as he’s a friend of a friend and though I’ve gone through the insecure stage with him, I persisted because I thought he was well, worth it, and turns out he is and I don’t feel like that anymore. I probably will always have a little bit of insecurity around (fellow?) really smart people but at least he’s easy to hang out with. Similarly, one of the girls in my office who initially was judgy bordering on obnoxious on our first meeting, which disappointed me because I always think there’s more possibility with women than men, but turns out she’s cool and we get along. Only she’s much younger and she’s always leaving, so it cannot be more than an occasional thing. With the new nice guy, he’s in a couple, and seems to have his own life and I don’t know how to take it forward except to be happy when he shows up because someone else has invited him.
This angst extends to the online too. A few months ago, someone replied to an extended comment I made on something she posted and I just felt … hurt. It was actually the last straw after a couple of stings, but I just wrote her off/felt the need to step back. And maybe this is a normal thing that happens in all relationships – you piss each other off and need to take a time out – but I feel the need to make it clear to myself that I am katti with someone.
And increasingly, I’m feeling this need to step back even from older friends. Because something they did or said hurt me. Okay, maybe I’m just too fragile these days and this is not a good time to be sallying forth into the world trying to make friends. Or maybe the reason I’m so fragile is that I did not do enough sallying forth. I’m confused.
I know, I know, the challenges of making friends as an adult. There are so many such articles now on the topic, or I keep seeing them because people know this is my pet angst and they send them to me. And it’s comforting to know that other people are in the same boat. But it’s also not, because I don’t want to be in this boat.