Another week is over and I cannot believe it’s May already! There are four weeks remaining of my 20s, and it’s also four weeks until I’m best man at my brother’s wedding – I really better get writing a speech…
I have spent the majority of my 20s worrying about turning 30 and what that meant: the dreaded getting older – particularly in ‘gay’ years. But now it’s almost here, that fear has lifted and I cannot wait to begin a new adventure.
In the last few months I have finally started to feel like I know who I am. I’ve stopped trying to be the person I thought other people wanted me to be, and instead I am being the person I want to be. I’m at the start of this voyage of personal discovery and acceptance and I hope it continues through my thirties and beyond.
This whole process has been very freeing and I suggest you try it too.
This week’s brave reader is Steve…
I don’t really have any friends
This is going to sound strange but I don’t really have any friends.
I am 27 and I think I am a nice guy, but for some reason I don’t feel like I fit in with people. It was the same when I was at school too but now that I’m getting older I’m looking at people going out together and having fun and I don’t know how to really relate to them.
Most of my friends are like online friends who I talk to on Twitter and Facebook and I’m afraid to meet anyone in case they see me in the flesh and don’t like me as a person.
How do I break out of my bubble and make some real honest to go friends?
Thank you for writing in to me. That is a very brave admission to make and I have nothing but respect for you.
Let me put your mind at ease – it does not sound strange, and you are not strange. Many people feel the way you do. That I promise you.
Life can be really difficult and challenging at times. You may think that you see these large groups of people out having the time-of-their lives, but that really isn’t always the case. Very few people genuinely have large groups of true friends – by that I mean they have few people who they can truly confide in, people they know for certain will always be there for them – I know I only have a handful.
People have lots of acquaintances, they surround themselves with people who don’t really know them and honestly, that can be every bit as lonely. What I’ve found to be really important is to have one or two good friends who really know you and you can become each other’s support network. That is much more important to me than being part of a massive clique and wanting everyone to love you. The people that matter do, the people that don’t – don’t matter.
I’m interested in why you feel like you don’t fit in? I think if you can identify and address this you will be able to move forward – if you want to. It seems like you do want to address this issue, though. This sort of soul-searching stuff is pretty tough and can dig up some deeply buried demons. It takes a lot of bravery, but I can already tell that you’re strong by how much you’ve already opened up to me in writing in.
You mention school, that it was during your time there you first felt like you didn’t fit in and had difficulty making friends. Was this because of your sexuality, or was it something else? I wish I could talk to you about this in person.
Kids can be brutal; they have yet to learn the proper moral conduct and politeness of society. They can be downright nasty brats! They can say things that damage us and stay with us for life.
I may be wrong, but I have a feeling that something like this may have happened to you and when these feelings are buried deep down inside of us, they can become part of us. The fear of rejection may be what’s stopping you from putting yourself out there all these years later.
My advice would be: take the plunge. It’s scary, but it’s obvious you want to. What are your interests? There are many clubs where like-minded people get together. Look online to see where these are taking place near you. It may be a sport – rather you than me – or salsa dancing, even a knitting circle – there is nothing wrong with knitting. We knitters are rockstars.
These may be obscure examples, but what I mean is there are like-minded people out there; you just need to find them. Have you looked to see if there is an LGBT society near you? You could go along to that.
Or pop in to your local gay bar – you say you are a nice guy and I believe you. Contrary to the old saying, nice guys definitely do not finish last! Put yourself out there and meet people.
There are so many different types of people out there in the world. We are all oddballs and eccentrics in our own weird and wonderful ways and I promise your best friend is out there. There is someone who feels like you who is waiting to meet you. Find them.
You mention having friends on Twitter and Facebook. People of our parents’ generation and beyond may think it’s weird that we deem these people friends, but times are definitely changing and social media is such a powerful tool. They are friends.
Social media is the perfect way to meet like-minded people who share your passions and opinions. Meet up with them, invite them for a drink, and then if you don’t get on in real life you never need to see them again. I have met some of my closest friends through Twitter. I even once DMed my now fiancé my number.
Promise me you will be brave. Nice people deserve nice things. You don’t need a gang of friends. But it would be nice to have a couple to share your experiences with. They are out there.
I also think it could benefit from you seeing your doctor and maybe speaking to a therapist. I know it sounds horrendously American, but I do and there is no shame in it. It may help you work out why things have turned out the way they have and help you move forward and achieve what you want.
I wish you all the luck in the world and please keep me informed of what happens next for you.
Want to chat?
If you have a problem you’d like me to help you with please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Live life, and love.