How to make friends

Today marks two months. I’ve been busy lately. A lot of training, a bit of working. I’m looking at a couple of job prospects, and doing all I can to stay in Rio this summer. So I’m also looking for a place to stay from June until August.

It’s an in-between time. I feel like I’m transitioning from being an outsider to an insider. Up until now, I’ve been spending most of my time with other Americans, but this weekend, I got invited to a few events by my Brazilian friends. I don’t know if it was what’s called ‘culture shock’, but I definitely went through a period of alienation where I didn’t feel like I had a place here – either with other Americans, or the local Brazilians.

I’m glad to say it feels like that’s over now. It’s something I’ve gone through before, the struggle to find friends. I hate stigmas, and there’s a certain stigma in saying that people need others. But while culture (particularly American) tends to push the idea of the individual, everyone knows deep down that they crave connection and deep friendship. Maybe you’ve heard the saying: “every man is an island.” Well, the concept of ‘man-as-an-island’ actually originated from the title of a poem by one of my favorite authors, John Donne, who argued just the opposite. Man is a social creature. When we deny that, we lose a valuable part of our ‘humanness.’ In the past, and recently, introduced to a new environment, I’ve craved friendship, and pursued it for it’s own sake. But that’s not how friendship works.

Friends are those who have something in common with each other. And when I forgot that, I spent so much energy trying to force friendships that I wasn’t being fully myself, alive and pursuing what I enjoy. So, ironically, in addition to forgoing the activities I love most, I was missing the opportunities to forge solid friendships with those people I really do have something in common with.

Now that I’ve recognized it, it seems silly that I would have forgotten this lesson in the first place. But I’m grateful to have learned it again this time, hopefully for the last.

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