Dear Miss Lonely Hearts,
Good morning, afternoon, or evening. Whenever you read this. I do not write to you because of love. Although I wish I had a love in my life, that is not which I want to covey and ask you. I ask you if you have maybe not a solution, but at least guidance to the question of friendship. I ask not of the simple familiarity, or simply being in the same class, or simply near each other. I ask how does one achieve true, trusting friendship. The kind of friendship in every movie involving a small neighborhood kid going about his adventures with his best friend. The kind of friendship where you are not miffed whenever one of you has played a prank, because you understand the heart beneath. The kind of friendship where honesty is the first order of the day.
Quite simply, although I consider myself nice, I feel unable to make friends. Whenever I go from class to class, I see people, and I can converse, but we then simply depart, never to speak again. Whenever I see an old roommate, at best we greet each other, and sometimes we do not even notice one another. I can recognize faces, but never fully converse. I never feel fully safe unravelling all my thoughts for fear of being misinterpreted or misrepresented. One could argue to find friends online, but I have never conversed with anyone online unless it is regarding work, except for family. To me, something feels wrong about conversing with someone you can’t see, let alone trust.
I feel alone. I thank chance and a good upbringing that I have not decided to completely withdraw, and trust that there is good to be done in the world. That there is so much to learn, to discover and to wonder. But at the same time, I am terribly afraid I will make a misstep, and fall off the bridge. I write to you because I feel alone. And when I am alone in my room, thinking of who I could express my feelings to, I feel terribly lonely.
The Boy in Black
Dear Boy in Black,
This might seem like strange advice, but here goes: treat the task of making friends like you would treat initiating a romantic relationship, meaning: ask them out. That simple familiarity between you and a classmate can only grow into a lasting friendship if you nurture it, if you put yourself out there. Next time you’re chatting idly with an acquaintance, talking about your favorite contestants on the Great British Baking Show or remarking on the unholy goodness that is Lauretta Jean’s chocolate pecan pie (okay, your conversations might not be as heavily centered around baking as mine are, but you get the picture), suggest that you go grab a slice and study together. Trust me, it works. Even the friends I have now who I can barely remember ever being awkward around started this way, with one of us asking the other on a “friend date” to Sauvie Island or inviting the other over to make milkshakes and watch a ridiculous TV show. Sure, conversation might be a little stilted at first, but hey, if you ask a classmate to hang out, your mutual Reed connection affords you with a wealth of things to gossip about.
Lastly, you’re not alone in your quest for friendship. Everyone is searching for some sort of connection, be it romantic or platonic (take it from someone who has gone on Tinder dates just to have someone to eat ice cream with). I think there’s a sort of beauty in our quests for connection, no matter how often we might fail in the process. Even though some of us might not admit it to ourselves, we are all searching for the kind of relationship you describe, so put yourself out there! Chances are that one person you idly joke with in class is looking for the same thing, and would be thrilled to grab a slice of chocolate pecan pie with you.
Miss Lonely Hearts
P.S. For all of our readers who experience feelings of loneliness, and hopelessness, or just want someone to talk to, the HCC has counseling drop-in hours. The hours are 3:00pm-4:00pm M-F, no appointment needed. There are several other resources for finding someone to talk to, even if you just need it once. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number is (800) 273-TALK. ProtoCall is mental health crisis line that answers the phone on evenings and weekends. Their number is (866) 432-1224. As someone who has called one of these numbers, it’s not hard to talk to the people on the other line. Sometimes it helps.