Making Friends at 23

I once heard in a Blink 182 song that “Nobody likes you when you’re 23”. Personally, I have found this to be untrue. For my 23rd birthday, I asked some friends to go out dancing with me. That night, I arrived to my friend’s place and was greeted with a resounding “SURPRISE!” This has never happened to me before.

Contradictorily, I am an extrovert who is not very good at making friends, specifically female friends. I have a million acquaintances, but there are not many people with whom I can share my heart. So this moment, on the night of my 23rd, touched me deeply.

In high school, I was rarely involved in drama, but I wanted to be. Usually, having drama implied that you had lots of friends (in order to cause said drama). My drama was that my girlfriends would simply stop contacting me, or abruptly fall out of my life. Girls confused me. I consistently drifted from one friend to the next, casually, as if in a weird dating game. I was confused why I was never involved in large friend groups and why I couldn’t maintain the friendships I did have. I envied girls who could make friends with the snap of a finger. At times, I even thought there might be something wrong with me. My parents would tell me that my personality was strong and intense. For a long time, I saw this as a flaw, that maybe my character was a bit off-putting. Turns out, I didn’t need drama to have friends. I needed girlfriends who were just as strong.

A little less than a year ago, I hosted a beginner’s surf trip to Santa Cruz and I ended up losing my car key in the ocean when we were packing up to go. The people who I drove had to be reassigned to different cars so that they could get back to Davis at a reasonable hour. My insurance would not be able to send a key maker for another two or three hours. It worked out that everyone found a spot in other cars that were driving back to Davis… Almost everyone, at least.

There would have to be one person to wait with me, in the cold, in the dark, and probably in hunger. With very little hesitation, Nidia, a girl who I had just met that day, volunteered to stay behind. She had told me earlier that day, “We’re going to be friends,” but warned me, while I was pushing her into waves, “Just to let you know though, I’m a best friend whore. I have a LOT of best friends.” Based on my experiences with girls who were good at making friends, Nidia and I were not going to be friends. During our hours spent waiting on the curb and a long drive back to Davis, Nidia and I discussed a wide range of topics. Her refreshing honesty and bluntness in a world that is all too shallow showed me that maybe we would be friends.

A week later, we went downtown and it was once again her honesty that drew me in. She told me something I didn’t know I needed to hear: “You care too much about what other people think of you.” It had only been one week since we met and she was already treating me in the kindest way possible. She was pushing me to be a better person and towards self-discovery, something my past girlfriends skipped over.

Nidia was definitely, as she self-diagnosed, “a best friend whore.” But I loved all of her other friends. Nidia is an introvert, and is very good at making friends. I feel thankful to be recruited by her. Because of Nidia, I now have, at 23 years old, a solid group of girlfriends. In my last few quarters of college, I was blessed to find some amazing ladies who are strong and kind and who I know that, even when we go our separate ways, it will only be in terms of distance. They will forever be the women who shaped my college experience. It took a while to find these humans, but I would wait it out all over again for these valuable friendships. As it turns out, there’s nothing wrong with me (at least in the making-friends-department), but that my past friends didn’t quite suit me. Often, I forced my friendships, because of some social pressure that I saw parading around Instagram which told me, if you don’t have X amount of friends, you’re doing it wrong. And so I hung out with people who I knew, deep down, were wrong for me, just because they were willing to spend time with me. Friendship is dynamic and not a “one-size-fits-all”, as I learned. Nidia and I were “forced”, I suppose, to spend time with each other on that day I lost my car key. But the conversations we shared, her values, and the way she treats me and shows that she trusts me was not forced. Nidia was the precursor to most of the friendships I have with the ladies in the picture below. These girls are a breath of fresh air. Thank you all for being uniquely you, and helping me through some of the weirdest, toughest times during my last year at UC Davis.

A few beautiful ladies are not pictured! Just know I love all of you!

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