At 30 years old I moved across the Atlantic — away from family and friends and driving on the right side of the road — to London, England. You might be thinking, “Oh, that sounds fun! You probably spent all your time down at the pub with those charming Brits, drinking ale and eating fish and chips.”

The truth is … I didn’t.

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First of all, their fish and chips were usually skin-on (which disgusts me), their ales were warm (again – ew!) and I didn’t spend much time down at the pub with those charming Brits … because I didn’t know any charming Brits. Not to say that the Brits aren’t charming, they definitely are! It’s because I didn’t know any Brits. The reason? I forgot how to make friends.

At the age of five, making friends was easy! Sharing your toys, sharing your snacks, sharing a kindergarten class.

At the age of 18, it was even easier! Sharing a dorm, sharing relationship woes, and sharing an entire bag of fun-sized Kit Kats.

At at the age of 30, it didn’t feel easy.

While living in England I leaned heavily on my husband for love, support, friendship, and wardrobe consultations — which was great, but I longed for a close female friendship like I had back home, which was 4,700 miles and eight time zones away.

I like to think that I’m friendly, sociable and can hold a conversation, but as I entered into new social circles through school and church, I felt like the circles were already complete, neat and perfectly drawn.

I found it all very intimidating.

I was worried about saying the wrong thing.

I was worried that once someone got to know me, they wouldn’t like me.

I was worried that I wasn’t smart enough.

I was worried that I wasn’t funny enough.

I was worried that I wasn’t stylish enough.

I felt like there was no room for me.

I felt like I had nothing to offer someone in the way of friendship.

And, I refused to share.

I was lonely. Very lonely. My husband worked long hours and my school program had rather short hours, so I spent a lot of time on my own. I watched a lot of TV, I cried, and I called my mom all the time. After a year, I was tired of being lonely and sad, so I decided I was going to shake off all those negative thoughts, insecurities and worries and instead be friendly, open, and vulnerable. And guess what? I made a few friends!

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And! I realized something.

With friendship, we don’t just share toys or a dorm, or an entire bag of fun-sized Kit Kats … though we might. We share something even better. We share little pieces of ourselves. Isn’t it kind of cool that you being you and another person being them can meet, be different, with different personalities, opinions, upbringings, family units, styles, political leanings, and taste in music, movies and TV… and yet, still become friends?

Sometimes it’s very hard to remember how different and unique and so very special we are… and how very lucky someone would be to have us as a friend. There are a lot of messages out there saying that only certain people are really special (cue any reality TV cast) and we might not be so special. But, it’s not true.

You’re special. People on TV are special too, in their own kind of special way, but they are no more special than you. There are 7.046 billion people on this earth, and there is nobody else like you. There’s also nobody else like me.

After completing my degree I moved from London to Los Angeles and aside from the sunshine, beaches and In-N-Out burger, the thing I was most looking forward to was making new friends.

Sometimes it’s very hard to remember how different and unique and so very special we are… and how very lucky someone would be to have us as a friend.

You are worth sharing: your life, your story, your gifts.

Be open to sharing a little piece of yourself. Put aside the negative thoughts, insecurities and worries. Realize how special and unique and wonderful you are.

Be open to making a friend. Receive the gift of friendship.

Have you been in a similar situation? How have you overcome loneliness and made friendships in the process?

Images via Bethany Small

22 comments

  1. Thank you so much for the article, it gave me hope to open up more and put myself out there. I have been struggling to make friends now that I moved countries to college. It’s hard on me not only because I’m new to all of this, but because of the language barrier as well -even though I’m on a good high level of it, I can speak it very well- . I already finished my first semester without having any friends from the country, I’m trying really hard to gain some, but I keep thinking that I’m not good enough for their conversations of ideas, it’s horrible really, and It’s stopping me from doing lots of things, it’s stopping me from enjoying my time in a foreign country and even going out occasionally to have fun and explore the world.

    1. Hello Anon, Thank you for your comment. Congratulations on putting yourself out there – moving to another country to study is such a great experience, and you will grow so much as a person. There are challenges, of course – like making new friends… I hope that you’ll continue to put yourself out there, join in, and let the fear fall away.

  2. It does get harder and harder to make friends I find, I moved to China when I was 33 and aside from the massive language and cultural barrier, I found that even making friends with fell expats was really difficult. I’ve made a few now, but still find myself incredibly lonely most of the time.

    1. Hi Corlie, It is definitely a challenge to make new friends amongst locals. When we moved to England I joined a church and a local community centre, and I found that was a good way to connect. I wish you much luck in connecting.

  3. This article came down from Above to soothe my lil heart right now.

    It’s incredibly comforting to know that I’m not the only one that has experienced all of these thoughts almost exactly. Having recently moved states post-college, then married and moved again to the outskirts about an hour away from any major cities, I’m looking forward to my 25th birthday and realizing it’s just me, the man, and our pups. With lots of work travel in his near future, the lonely panic was setting in.

    I’m feeling more optimistic now that I have read this. Thanks for that, Kimberly!

  4. While I’m still fairly young (in my second year of higher education) I really connected with this article. I recently transferred universities, so I’m brand new to a school where my class has already been together for a year. Freshman year it’s so easy to make friends because everyone is in the same boat…this year it has been exceptionally challenging. I’ve been sad, lonely, calling my mum a lot, and relying heavily on my boyfriend for social contact – we seem to have a lot in common! But your words have brought a lot of comfort; I will connect with people so long as I keep putting myself out there and being open to new people and situations.

    1. Hi Ava, thanks for sharing. Sometimes it takes being lonely to realize the importance of good friends. If you are open and vulnerable, you will connect!

  5. Such beautiful writing, Kimberly! I feel very identified because I’m at a stage in my life where I’m having to make changes. With the prospect of almost graduating college in sight, and choosing where I’d like to apply to graduate school, I’ve started thinking about leaving my current friends behind and starting anew. It’s intimating! And exciting at the same time. I’m curious, where did you study in London? And what program? I’m thinking of applying to University of the Arts in London. The world is just so big and there’s so many places to see! Thank you!

    1. Hi Melanie, Thanks for your comment. I did my MA in Creative & Professional writing (with an emphasis on Screenwriting) at the University of London, Roehampton. I’m a big proponent of expanding your horizons… and living abroad. It can definitely be scary, but I think the experience is worth it.

  6. This article is so timely for my life. While I’m not traveling to a new destination, I’ve just found myself fearful of the idea of new friendships. This was a wonderful reminder to jump in!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing, Kimberly! Your story resonates with me. I studied abroad in London during my undergrad and stayed on a university campus, which made the experience of being in a new country and city easier and very enjoyable. When I moved back for my grad school program, I realized that making friends required a lot more effort than when I was 5 or 18. I experienced the same insecurities, negative thoughts, and loneliness that you just described! It’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one. 😉

    I’ve been back in LA for several years now, but reading your piece put a smile on my face and was encouraging. Thanks for the reminder of how being open and yourself lets others be themselves around you, which is the cement of friendship. =)

  8. Thanks for sharing this! It’s not something that is talked about a lot, but making friends as an adult has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I once told some women that I was hoping to get to know better that I had no friends in this town I had moved to over a year ago, and that I was desperate. It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever said to strangers, but my biggest surprise was that they totally identified and had all struggled with the same thing. It’s always surprises me the way things work out when I am at my most vulnerable.

    1. Thanks for your comment Rachel. When we first moved to L.A. I was sitting at a coffee shop and I overheard two ladies discussing their writing projects. I really wanted to talk to them, but my heart was racing and my palms were sweaty. I summoned the courage, turned around and talked to them. I told them I was new to L.A., had zero friends, and then asked if I could join their writing group. They said yes, and we’re still friends.

  9. I loved this. I faced this fear when I moved to a new city a few years ago and found that cultivating new, adult friendships has to be much more deliberate than it was when we were younger. Setting up friend “dates” can be fun but also intimidating! It’s a great exercise in vulnerability and is ultimately very rewarding.

  10. I found this article very helpful and comforting as I am graduating college in the spring. I have been facing my own woes lately about where I will go next and what new friends I will make. Kimberly’s words gave me hope.

    1. Thank you for your comment Alex. Graduating college is such an exciting time with endless possibilities. Wishing you much luck as you navigate your path and (no doubt) make new friends!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Michelle. “One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

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