There are only three more months before 2019 comes to an end and 2020 rolls in. I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, but I love the idea of setting intentions.
Forming connections as an adult is nothing like when we were younger. When we were kids, as long as you liked vaguely the same things as the other kid on the playground, you’d instantly form a friendship.
As an adult, I can’t even go to a yoga class and get more than a sheepish “hi” from the person next to me. And even on the rare occasion I get something I can work with, there’s an odd obstacle that faces anyone trying to form a new friendship with someone they met out in the real world.
Authentic connection — the kind where you understand each other on a more meaningful and profound level — seems nearly impossible to form nowadays. Living in Los Angeles, I’m constantly bombarded with people wanting to take group shots for Instagram or Snapchatting any event we go to. To each their own, but don’t get upset if I’m not interested in acting like we’re having the time of our lives the second you point your phone at me.
This year taught me one thing, though: There’s hope. I’ve met phenomenal human beings that I can hold thought-provoking conversations with, that support me and I support them. And though I resent social media for the unwavering anxiety it brings me, it’s been a source for several fledgling friendships that I see great potential in.
With 2020 coming around the corner, I hope one thing for me and for all of you: authentic connections in your life.
Humans are social creatures and crave understanding. Social media created a more connected culture. The catch is, through that connection, we’re feeling more alone than ever. No longer are we solely focused on what’s happening in our lives or our closest friends. We can literally see what a bikini model in Bali is eating for lunch. A mere tap on a screen can show us what everyone from our high school is doing on any given Saturday night.
Instead of genuine connection, we’ve created a culture of comparison and FOMO. Our sense of wanting to belong is there, and social media creates a mirage of our deepest desires for intimacy.
So in 2020, I hope you — and I — find that deep connection we crave. Whether it initially sparks on social media or you find it at your local Whole Foods, I truly hope that we start to focus on real-life, meaningful relationships. I don’t want to die knowing I had a 12% engagement rate on Instagram (I don’t). I want to know I had an impact on the lives of those closest to me and that I was loved. Selfish? Perhaps. But it’s better than promoting a culture of envy behind a phone screen.
And if you’re thinking it’s too late — that your prime years for life-long friendships passed — I implore you to think differently. People come into our lives when we’re ready for them. Perhaps you wouldn’t have been open to their kind of friendship in college; maybe you would’ve taken them for granted.
There are few people I’m still friends with from high school, and I cherish their friendships. The rest were never meant to last. We either grew apart or had a falling out; I made mistakes and so did they. And for varying reasons, we never reconnected.
My intentions for making friends as a teenager were basically non-existent or shallow. I focused too much on befriending the popular kids in my high school, even if they were complete assholes. In college, all I cared about is if you partied. Or if you were in my sorority, because I thought that was a stellar way to make friends, ignoring my lenience towards male friends.
My motives then weren’t what they are now. Today, I want people in my life that are as down (if not more) to go to the farmer’s market as they are to hit up the bar. I’m more attracted to people from different walks of life and people that have interesting stories. Emotional intelligence is essential for me to form a connection with someone. All of which I would’ve turned away from or taken for granted when I was younger.
Age should be seen as obsolete in this endeavor. If you’re lucky enough to have found a life-long friend at seven, great for you. A friendship you form at 40 is not less meaningful, though. If anything, you connected at a time when you were more acquainted with your authentic self. A time well past the emerging self-discovery years of your early 20s.
It’s never too late to create an authentic connection with someone new.
As the New Year rolls around, remember: Don’t settle for friends that leave you feeling a void. There’s something to be acknowledged if your friends make you feel drained. You deserve friends that make you feel full, that leave you feeling cared for and energized.
When you find that kind of connection, foster it. Put in the work to foster something beautiful and let the other person know they’re important to you.
Because authentic connection is a rarity in life — it’s not something we easily come across. But when we do find it, it’s part of what makes life worth living. It’s the people you call the moment you find out you landed your dream job. The ones you force to carve pumpkins with you around Halloween. The people that hold your hand when you’re nervous about a doctor’s appointment.
And the people that will be standing by your side through the worst and best parts of 2020 and years to come.