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12 Reasons Why Making New Friends Is So Hard and What You Can Do About It

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12 Reasons Why Making New Friends Is So Hard and What You Can Do About It

After an uneventful and lonely day once, I wanted to pour my heart out to somebody so badly. Frantically scurrying down my phone for search of a patient ear to listen to my woes, I found myself scrolling down, skipping from one name to another. My Facebook page, Viber, WhatsApp listed 1000+ contacts but something made me skip names in my moment of fury.The plethora of relationships that we entwine ourselves today makes trust, faith, and being in a true friendship very difficult.

Growing up, getting married, having kids, or maybe being in a relationship has changed the dynamics of friendships today. One day, when a good friend confided in me some of her impending personal problems, I was horrified yet sad. “What made you keep this away from me for so long?” I demanded. She quietly replied, “I was scared, as what would you think of me”. Quite a change from our earlier childhood days, when we never thought twice before sharing about our shortcomings, inner fears, and absence of a particular thing from our lives.

Why has making new friends become so tough? If you count on your fingers the list of new friends you made say, in 5 years, you may say numerous. But out of them, maybe one or two are really genuine and dear to you. So the question arises – what now? Could you possibly linger onto your platonic relationships, let go, or do something else? Let us find out why making new friends is so hard and what you can do about it.

1. Virtual relationships.

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    Relationships and that includes our friendships are becoming more and more virtual. You have your old friends with whom you chat with endlessly, keeping them posted, pinging them, tagging them, poking them, sending them game invites and what not to keep in touch. Similarly when you make new friends, you always have this “gap” of communication as you prefer going the “web” or “phone” way. Sometimes communicating virtually might not actually work for a naive and new friendship which requires a lot of personal interaction. So one reason why friendships are limber is because of the excessive virtual communication between them.

    Communicate more, but in person. Of course you can’t visit your old friends time and again, but make sure you video call them frequently instead of chat or SMS. For those friends who are around, try to genuinely know them in the first two-three meetings. If you don’t hit it off, you can always back off.

    2. No time to invest in relationships.

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      Time is money or in fact even more precious than money nowadays. People hardly find time for social interactions as they are caught up by work pressure, marital problems, health concerns, and a lethargic lifestyle involving TV and social media craze. After all this, if they find some time left, they like idling away or sleeping rather than hanging out with friends.
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      Solutions? Nothing. Relax and chill but whenever you do squeeze in some time, make time for your hobbies or simply enjoy moments of silence. Your solitude may prove to be your best friend at times.

      3. People move on.

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        Need to pursue careers, spouses, or education outside of your home may at times weaken or even uproot your long friendships. After a tussle of trying to make new friends for quite some time, I can now safely say “In life we never lose friends… We grow up, we move, we change”. After studying for some years outside of my home state, when I returned back, I was met with no welcome visits, no calls, and no emails. I was devastated. Turns out many of my school friends too had moved and the rest were busy with their new-found friends. They had made friends of their own and so did I (at least I thought so).

        Nothing much could be done in situations like these, other than letting it go. It gets difficult to carry on and make new friends as childhood friendships are definitely the most special, but they too won’t be entirely the same. This is one reason why we don’t make new friends. We wait for the past friendships to be reignited and they don’t. Look for new friends where you currently are.

        4. Compatibility issues.

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          Somehow with the increasing intellectualism within the youth and rapid increase in general well being, people hold themselves at high accord with other people. So when the intermingling happens, you often do not see eye to eye with a recent (or old) friend on certain issues. So new friendships get soiled due to ego and compatibility issues and old friendships due to changing times and status issues. A not-so-old friend of mine just got back from her business trip abroad after staying away for like a couple of years. The way she dressed up, talked and reacted to situations was completely very elevated. In the next few days, she began finding herself more and more deserted by her friends here as they felt suffocated in her company. Turns out she was actually making people feel worse about themselves.

          I would say compatibility needs to be developed. Similarly, decide how you feel in your respective friendships. If you argue on some worldly affairs say politics, sports or culture that is fine but if there is an ideology or thought process clash, then I would worry.

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          5. Relationship issues.

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            I was talking to a classmate of mine who was heavily troubled by the dislike of his girlfriend towards his best friend-roommate. Finally one day it grew so bad and she demanded him to change his room as she could not stand the sight of his friend. My poor friend had to succumb to his girl’s wishes. He is not on talking terms with his friend and often tells me how unhappy he is to lose such a solid guy. Sometimes when couples meet, the wives may get along but the husbands do not. And we all know what happens after that.

            It is difficult to say what to do in deadlock situations like these but the choice is very subjective and whatever the person thinks is right for them at that moment. But I feel the person who really loves you will never tell you to choose among your friends.

            6. Priorities change.

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              Friends. But you have a boyfriend or girlfriend or family to turn to, so why do need friends? Sad but true. Once you become an adult it is natural for you to give importance to other significant people in your life. Obviously your time gets divided between your friends and other relationships. You start slowing declining in making new friends and the old ones too start to drift apart.

              Tricky one here. But why not try dividing time between friends and love interest or family? Or even better, try having common friends or introducing your partner to your friend. You can keep both your relationship as well as your friendships intact.

              7. Ghosts of past friendships.

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                Whenever I try to venture out and seek new friends, I always am reminded of my not-so successful attempts in the past. The times when I had tried to venture, seek and met new people. The times when I invited them over for dinner, offered to take care of them when they fell sick, called them up frequently only to be let down at a later date. On one hand, we have the vulnerable side of us scared and hurt by the past traumas. On the other, we have the eager, lonely, and expectant us who wants to try again and trust people. Emotional baggage can be difficult to let go of but remember that not everyone will be the same.

                If you feel people let you down every time, maybe you need to contemplate and think about your actions. Oprah Winfrey quotes: “If friends disappoint you over and over, that’s in large part of your own fault. Once someone has shown a tendency to be self-centered you need to recognize that and take care of yourself. People aren’t going to change simply, because you want them to.”

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                8. A hint of suspicion.

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                  There is always this hint of judgement nowadays when we meet somebody new. Moreover in this world when people are vying each other, there is always this strange feeling when people are trying to be sweet to us.

                  What to do? Some of them can be really genuine. Take a chance and reciprocate. There are some people who really care about people and are trying to make new acquaintances. Allow them and be led.

                  9. Putting ourselves into defined brackets.

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                    Making new friends gets seemingly difficult as people with similar tastes and preferences get together and the rest get sidelined. I felt myself surprisingly aloof initially living in Europe, being an expat. There are groups for cooking, mothers, kitty parties, and I didn’t fit in any of them. Even though in some places I found common interests, I didn’t meet like-minded people. I felt out of place with groups of mothers and kids, people sharing the same native language, or people talking about cooking recipes all the time.It is like putting an extra effort to go and bond yourself with the groups.

                    Quoting ― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, “I am always saying “Glad to’ve met you” to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.” Of course we will always need people but if you feel you are being with people just for the heck of it, that doesn’t sound nice at all.

                    10. The fake, the formal, and the famous.

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                      I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod. One of the reasons why we don’t end up in making lots of new friends is the closed web that people weave around them and stay put. As we grow up, we tend to get more closed and stay huddled within ourselves. When we were in college, we had an easy way of looking at things and behaved similarly. Once we grow up, we begin to feel more threatened by the stiff competition around us, be it in work, relationships, or money. We somehow don’t like hanging out with people more popular than us, famous or likewise.

                      I would say get challenged and hang out with all weird personalities of people and observe them. Yes, you may not want to do anything with the fake and the formal ones but they help you to distinguish between the wrong and right ones. They give me food for thought and end up being some weird character in my articles!

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                      11. Lack of initiative.

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                        In the beginning of any new found friendship, there has to be someone who takes the initiative, breaks the ice, and offers to get together. That is perfectly fine. But there are some people who do not do anything and are always waiting to be led. Although some people can’t help but be overly enthusiastic, sometimes it can get you no where or even repel people.

                        I would say give people their space and check if they are genuinely interested in you or are in it for the sake of the event, food, drinks, loneliness, or for some real company.

                        12. The selfishness quotient.

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                          The using people thing. When I started to hang out with new people after I started working, the dynamics of friendships around me took a rapid hit. Friends whom I knew from yesteryear and new ones started giving me undue importance due to the nature of the job I had. Initially, it felt good to be recognized, but then the uneasiness grew. People started knowing me not for what I was but for who I was. Eventually, as we grow up, we realize that people make friends because they “need” them, not because they adore them. Mothers of kids may not actually be great friends but they hang out together because of their kids.

                          People would always be selfish but maybe not everybody. But yes there would have been times that you would have been the selfish one unknowingly. Unfortunately the world has been programmed that way, so try to do as much as you can for the people who mean something to you and those in distress. For the rest, well you know what to do.

                          “I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, and don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.” ― Jon Katz. There are some people in life that make you laugh a little louder, smile a little brighter, and just live a little better.

                          Your career and life will change for the better when you learn to surround yourself with positive people and keep the negative ones away. Of course meeting and retaining all the new people you like will always be a challenge now, but then I say hold one to the few ones before they fly away. So who knows, maybe the new friend you just ran into the party yesterday, might turn out to be your best friend one day?.

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                          Last Updated on July 20, 2021

                          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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                          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                          You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

                          Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

                          Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

                          Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

                          1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

                          According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

                          “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

                          Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

                          Warming up

                          If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

                          If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

                          Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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                          1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
                          2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
                          3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

                          Stay hydrated

                          Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

                          To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

                          Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

                          Meditate

                          Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

                          Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

                          Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

                          Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

                          2. Focus on your goal

                          One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

                          Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

                          Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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                          Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

                          If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

                          3. Convert negativity to positivity

                          There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

                          ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

                          It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

                          Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

                          Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

                          Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

                          4. Understand your content

                          Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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                          However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

                          “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

                          Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

                          Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

                          One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

                          5. Practice makes perfect

                          Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

                          In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

                          Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

                          6. Be authentic

                          There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

                          Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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                          Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

                          To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

                          With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

                          Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

                          7. Post speech evaluation

                          Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

                          Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

                          We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

                          You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

                          Improve your next speech

                          As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

                          Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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                          • How did I do?
                          • Are there any areas for improvement?
                          • Did I sound or look stressed?
                          • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
                          • Was I saying “um” too often?
                          • How was the flow of the speech?

                          Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

                          If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

                          Reference

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