It’s no secret that I’ve had a challenging time making friends since I’ve moved to Australia. A few people have told me it’s because Australian women find their friends in childhood and rarely accept new women into their social circle as adults. I’ve also been told that once the children were in school, it would get easier. On my own, I have discovered that yes quite possibly it’s hard for well established groups of friends to let outsiders in. That could be said for any group. And I’ve discovered that yes I know some mom/mum women in which we catch up occasionally. They’re nothing like the friendships I had in America. I didn’t know if this was an American vs. Australian difference or that I had become pickier in my friendships for some reason.
Well, a Facebook friend posted an article from The New York Times titled Friends of a Certain Age: Why is it hard to make friends over 30?. And now I know why it’s been a battle to have just a lazy afternoon in which nothing but everything was shared with a friend in Australia.
Because I moved in my 30s and I have children…2 major life events in one that changes your perspective about the world. I have gotten to the point that I have made of Kind of Friends rather than those marvelous friendships from my youth that I could pick up the phone and call them out of the blue and things would be dropped for that moment of shared connectedness.
And having said that, I have been guilty of it myself. I have been invited to many things but I didn’t go to because I had other commitments. In my 20s, I would have shuffled things around. Now unless it’s an amazing reason, I don’t. According to the article,
“You tend to focus on what is most emotionally important to you, so you’re not interested in going to that cocktail party, you’re interested in spending time with your kids.”
And there are times I have to hang out with people that I try so damn hard to like and for them to like me – that they were just people that I had hardly anything in common with – and I wondered why I would put in the effort for this particular person and not the person who really wanted to spend time with me.
ADDING children to the mix muddles things further. Suddenly, you are surrounded by a new circle of parent friends — but the emotional ties can be tenuous at best, as the comedian Louis C. K. related in one stand-up routine: “I spend whole days with people, I’m like, I never would have hung out with you, I didn’t choose you. Our children chose each other. Based on no criteria, by the way. They’re the same size.”
Priorities change when you’re in your 30s so your idea of friends change as well. I’m not alone. There are many others who are struggling to have friendships, whether in Australia or in America or wherever. I’m glad to know it’s not anything personal against me but that it is because of my personal choices. I know that I have to still work on keeping those meaningful relationships from my past going and I know I cannot be a hermit in Australia. I will have to expand my horizons without compromising what I hold dear. One day I (and some good friends) will find a clever and wonderful balance of new and old where the friendship will flow seamlessly. And then I will enter my 40s and things will change again and I will wonder what the hell happened to me.