When you don’t have a squad

It’s not easy when your friendship experience is not so much table for 10 as it is Deliveroo for two.

So it was a Saturday afternoon. I’d had dinner and a couple of drinks with my boyfriend the night before, and met my mum for lunch during the day. I came home on the Saturday afternoon, and went on Facebook to see one of my friends tagged in loads of pictures with her boyfriend and all his mates, who now seem to have become her mates. Instantly, I was sad. Sad that she had this whole squad of friends that I didn’t have – and that they looked like they were all having an awesome time – and sad that I didn’t have the same.

I’m not a weirdo or anything. I’m pretty normal; I go to work, wash regularly, and do normal things like go to the gym and binge watch shows on Netflix. I also don’t have ZERO friends – I have a handful of really lovely ones. But y’know, geography. Specifically, most of them are in different cities, countries and continents. But how had this happened? How has it got to the stage that I’d struggle to get a group of people to go to the pub with on a Friday?

“It seems so much harder to build a friendship group when you move somewhere in your mid-twenties and everyone already has their friendz4life”

Maybe it’s just my experience, but I live and work in a city I didn’t study or go to school at. I know, boo hoo, this is the same for a massive proportion of young people.  But it seems so much harder to build a friendship group when you move somewhere, aged 25, where everyone already has their friendz4life that they’ve known since they were two.

The second thing is my personality type. I like socialising, yes, but as an introvert by nature I also like time on my own. Most of the people I’ve become friends with are either a) friends of friends that over time I’ve adopted as my own or b) people that I’ve been in proximity to for a number of weeks or months and gradually got to know, like work mates and flatmates. But it’s often it’s difficult to translate that into out-of-hours socialising. Even though there are people at work I’d like to get to know better, the thought of asking them on a friend date in the middle of the office feels me with unmitigated horror.

“I like socialising but I’m also an introvert by nature, so I like plenty of time of my own”

I think that’s what I LOVED about the six months I spent in Shanghai a couple of years ago so much. I went out there entirely on my own but as soon as I pitched up at the airport I was part of a group of people who’d also decided to leave everything behind and jump on a plane. We spent the first five days being dorky tourists, getting to grips with using chopsticks, and practising our Mandarin before we were all shuttled off to different schools.

Even once we were all in different places, we’d keep in touch and see each other at weekends, and I also made friends with other English teachers at the school I was at. Despite not particularly liking the school (long story) I didn’t want to leave because I loved the social side so much. We’d get lunch together and sneak cigarettes between classes, and Sundays were always our nights out – where we’d head for dinner before drinking into the small hours. I can honestly say I had some of the best friends I’d ever had over there, and part of it was because we didn’t have anyone else. We didn’t have families and partners and other commitments pulling us home, so we were each other’s families.

“I made some of the best friendships I’d ever had in Shanghai, and I think that was because we didn’t have anyone else. Without other ties and commitments, we became each other’s families”

So why is it so hard to recreate that over back home? If it was that easy, I’ll tell you. Sometimes I walk past the bars and restaurants near where I live and I wish I had this big pack of friends that I could waste afternoons with inside. Taylor Swift and her squad have a lot to answer for.

So in light of this, I’m going to make the effort to do more, whether that’s doing my usual of getting to know friends of friends, such as my boyfriend’s work mates, or putting myself out there and being the organiser. I might even email one of the girls in the office and ask if they fancy doing something one time. Because the thing is, there probably are other people who are feeling exactly the same as me, and would love to have someone to go for a cheeky drink with on a Friday night.

Like this post? Have a look at my other post about finding my people at university.

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