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Uploaded:2018-08-07
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In which John talks about the challenges of making friends in adulthood, and how he made his first friends after moving to Indianapolis eleven years ago. This video was inspired by Hank's video, How Do Adults Make Friends? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJIWMTWojy8&t=1s

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Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday!

I really liked your video on Friday about how to make friends in adulthood and today I thought I would follow-up with some personal experience on the topic. I like to spend time by myself. like most of my hobbies are things generally done alone: reading, writing, gardening, listening to podcasts, contemplating the relationship between myself and the bacteria that colonize me.

And also I get anxious in situations with lots of new people. Not primarily because of my mental illness i don't think, but because lots of people find social engagements nervous-making, especially when you're going to them alone. And that also means i'm often not like my best self in those situations. Like, I'm often self-concious about how much I'm talking or how little or how much I'm sweating or whatever and that makes it difficult to be in the conversation.

On the other hand, I really like being with close friends and family. I love the comfort and warmth of those deep connections and they are super important to me. The problem, of course, is that if you don't already have those deep connections, it can be difficult to find them without putting yourself in those nervous situations where sweat just sprouts from your forehead like so many seeds out of a well tilled soil. And then, in part because you're nervous, you struggle to engage deeply and then you go home and you're like, "Oh my god, I don't want to do that again." 

So Sarah and I moved to Indianapolis in 2007, and I know almost no one here. I was what is sometimes called a "trailing spouse" because we'd moved here for Sarah's job. She quickly made great friends at work, but I struggled to make friends at work on account of how I was working alone in my basement. 

I did try to make friends. I volunteered for things, attended events, accepted every invitation - all the things I'd read on the internet you were supposed to do to make friends, but none of it worked. And I became discouraged pretty quickly because all of those social engagements were really draining and it just seemed like Indianapolis wasn't the kind of place for me. It felt to me like everyone here had known everyone else since grade school.

And then a few months after moving, we received an invitation to attend the big annual neighborhood get-together on our street. And I didn't want to go, because I had tried to make friends through social events and it didn't work. Plus everyone on our street was kind of old, like 40, and they had like kids and stuff. 

But Sarah really wanted to go, so we did and, as I expected, everyone was super old and had kids and stuff and I was sweaty and nervous and struggling to participate in conversations and after about half an hour, I was definitely ready to go. But then a guy came up to me and introduced himself. He was about my age, but not my size. He looked like Vince Vaughn and Vincent D'Onofrio ahd had a huge baby. 

His name was Chris and his fiancee Marina was at the party as well, and we all started talking. I was still sweaty and still nervous, but we were talking. We talked about Chris's time in the Peace Corps and my time as a hospital chaplain. We talked about living in Indianapolis and living on a street full of old people. And then in an awkward moment near the end of the night, I asked for Chris's number, and he gave it to me. 

Now it didn't happen all at once. It wasn't like love at first sight or whatever. But as we began to hang out with Chris and Marina more, I began to hate Indianapolis less. They both worked from home at the time and we would often go out to lunch together, which meant that astonishingly enough I sort of had work friends.

Mariana was compassionate and incredibly thoughtful - the kind of person who always makes you feel heard, and cared for. And Chris was hilarious and charismatic, but also deeply loyal. He knew I was lonely. And so he invited me to join his IndyCar fantasy league and to come over to his house to watch TV all the time. And so through my friendship with Chris, I made more friends until eventually I wanted to stay in Indianapolis for good, because towns are made out of people in the end. And I've come to love a lot of people in this one. 

I didn't want to go to that neighborhood party because I'd tried going to things. I'd tried to make friends. And I thought I had failed. In fact, though, I just hadn't succeeded yet. This week Chris and Marina and Sarah and I are celebrating 11 years of our friendship. And now, we are the old people with kids and stuff at the neighborhood party, and I couldn't be more grateful. 

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.