My Anxiety Stops Me From Making Friends

A woman with anxiety
Unsplash / Greg Kantra

I cannot remember the last time I made a new friend, a real friend, not just one that was created out of convenience because we’re stuck working together or sitting in class together. The kind of friend who wants to see me as much as possible. Who texts back quickly. Who actually agrees to hang out on weekends instead of coming up with excuses.

I used to assume I would have an easier time developing friendships when I was older and more confident with myself, but it turns out I had things backwards. Back in high school, at least I was able to catch up with my peers over lunch or in between lectures. At least we were forced to be in the same building with each other five days per week.

Now that I’ve reached my twenties, most of my old friends have lost touch with me. They have moved to different states. They have gotten hectic jobs. They are busy with their own lives. They don’t have the time to reach for their phone, let alone drive over to see me face-to-face.

Losing friends sucks when my anxiety makes it close to impossible for me to find new friends. I have a million friend crushes, people who I could imagine becoming close with if placed under the right circumstances, but nothing ever comes from them. We never actually hang out and it’s mostly my own fault.

I’m usually not brave enough to strike up a conversation with a stranger because I have enough trouble talking to the people I have known since childhood. Besides, I’m not sure what I would say to them. I’m not sure if a quick compliment or a comment about the weather would convey how badly I want them in my world. The conversation would probably die as quickly as it started.

Even during the rare days when I find the courage to say hello or ask a question, the friendship never grows. I never exchange numbers with people. I never make plans to hang out with people after work. I never become more than acquaintances.

I have some leftover friendships from when I was younger, and even though I would love to rekindle them, I still hesitate to invite people out to dinner or bowling, because I’m terrified of rejection. I’m worried the other person will want nothing to do with me and will lie about how busy they are with work, giving me false hope that we could hang out some other time. I’m worried that I’ll look pathetic for reaching out to them when they probably never even think twice about me.

I wish my social skills were better. I wish I knew where to meet people and had the strength to initiate conversations with them.

But the truth is that I have no idea how to make friends when I suffer from anxiety. I have no idea how I’m supposed to get other people to like me when I struggle to like myself. TC mark

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