Friendship is one of the most fundamental aspects of human nature. It’s also one of the most complex. We’re encouraged from infancy to make friends wherever we go, but despite the fact we have so much encouragement making friends isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it feels damn near impossible.
There are whole articles, books, TEDTalks, all dedicated simply to the art of making friends. You’d think for something considered so fundamental to human nature we wouldn’t have all this trouble making friends. It seems to be a fact of life that making friends isn’t always easy.
If making friends is hard to begin with, when you have dyspraxia it’s even harder. Dyspraxia is a developmental condition and it tends to mean that you don’t mature as quickly as your peers, have poor emotional control, and struggle to pick up on standard social norms. It doesn’t help that later on in life these childhood issues with tend to lead to more long-term conditions like depression and anxiety, which hinders the ability to make friends even further.
I’ve struggled all my life with making friends, and more importantly keeping them. All throughout my life I’ve struggled with making friends with my peers, and I’ve tended to only have one good friend at a time. Put struggling to make friends, missing some of the more pertinent social cues, a lack of understanding malicious intent, and a desperation to have friends all together and you end up leaving yourself wide open to some pretty toxic situations.
One of my earliest, most notable, experiences of this was in primary school, when a teacher informed me that the girls who had started being nice to me and acting like my friends, weren’t actually my friends and were just using me. That kind of crushed me at the time but was probably for the best.
Even once I was an adult, I haven’t always made the best decisions regarding friends. My usual desperation to make friends has meant that I’ve had several friendships that have been completely on other people’s terms. We’ve talked only when they wanted to talk to me and hung out only when they wanted to hang out with me. It took me a long time to figure out that those kinds of friendships tended to end up making me feel far worse about myself than having no friends around at all.
More recently however I’ve ended up making, maintaining, and developing some fantastic friendships. Ones where I feel appreciated, liked, and valued as a human being. Ones where it feels like a give and take, a 50/50 of effort being put in. Where it doesn’t feel forced, or makes me uncomfortable, or makes me feel shit about myself (honestly there’s nothing worse than when you think someone is your friend, but all they do is erode your self-confidence and make you feel shitty about yourself).
These friendships have made my life so much better, so much brighter, and have definitely helped my mental health. Isn’t it strange the power of good friends can have over you? Most of them I don’t get to see very often, because adulthood means that we all live crazy far apart. I can’t wait to see them all again, whenever that may be.
Even though I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like, I know that these people are here for me. They support my victories, celebrate my achievements, and commiserate with me when things don’t go well. They’re also there to tell me when I’m being a total dick, which sometimes I need.