In a world where every moment of every day is broadcasted via Facebook and Instagram, I find myself realizing that I have no friends. I feel like I should clarify that statement before I go on because there are quite a few people that consider me their friend and perhaps even their BFF that might be a tad bit offended by reading the previous statement. I know a lot of people. I talk to a lot of people, and that’s kind of where it ends. When it’s Friday night and my husband is out of town, and the kids are away, there’s no one I can call and say, “let’s hang out.” That’s why I consider myself to be friendless.
There are a few reasons for this. As a child I was a bit of a loner and what some might call an “odd duck.” I enjoyed things most 10-year old’s didn’t, even back in the 80’s. My favorite show was Unsolved Mysteries, not The Simpsons. I thought Bart and his whole gang were stupid. I liked to read; it was my escape from an overly sheltered life and the bullies who tormented me. My defense to their constant teasing wasn’t to lash out, but instead, I drew even more inside myself. By the time I got to high school, I could barely relate to my peers and was more than happy to sit back, watch, and listen to the goings on of their teenaged lives secretly wishing that it was me experiencing it all.
By the time I arrived at college, it seemed like the window of opportunity for finding female friends had closed. Everyone already had a best friend and most times I felt like an unwanted hanger-on and interloper at best. I had a few close male friends, but the problem with having a group of guys as friends is that they grow up and become men. They become husbands and fathers who no longer have time for their odd duck female friend who was cool as shit in college but just another middle-aged socially awkward person now. I don’t get invited to their dinner parties, double dates or night’s out because I’m weird and I don’t fit in with all their “normal” new friends that they want to impress. And that’s okay; people grow up, people move on, it just sucks being the one that always gets left behind.
I spent the first half of my 30s blaming my lack of social invitations on my children. I was in a different place then they were, and I assumed they just couldn’t relate to that. They were all still child and partner free. They traveled. They partied. They didn’t have room in their life for a weirdo covered in baby spit the majority of the day. Once they all got settled down the calls I expected to come, never did. It was then that I decided that it couldn’t be all of them, it must be me. The common denominator. And I’ll be honest; it hurt for awhile until I decided that I could spend the rest of my life being lonely and longing for something that I’ll never have or I could embrace it and learn to enjoy being alone.
I usually spend my spouse and child-free days on my own. Sometimes gloriously so. I’m an introvert by nature and not having anyone around to be “on” for is freeing. I never have to compromise on what I want to watch or where I want to go. The house is as quiet or as noisy as I require it to be. It provides a lot of time for introspection, and in doing so I discovered, I’m not a good friend. I’m horrible at keeping in touch. I sometimes go for months before discovering I have a message, mostly because I’m not used to having any to begin with. I’ve also come to terms with that fact that I’ll never have the lives of the people I know on Facebook. I won’t have the group of girlfriends that have known me since 4th grade. We won’t have stories of getting drunk in Florida over spring break or getting lost in New York City and meeting someone famous. I was always more book club than nightclub anyway.
I guess in my impending middle age, I’ve discovered that it’s okay that my life looks nothing like what I think it should look like. That what’s socially acceptable as “normal” really doesn’t have to apply to me unless I want it to. My closest friends reside on the other side of a computer screen, and that’s okay. Being friendless may not be normal but normal is so Simpsons and I always liked Unsolved Mysteries anyway.