It’s always been really hard for me to make friends, let alone the deep friendships that introverts crave. But that’s not stopping me from being my own best friend.
As an introvert, I’ve always looked for friendships that go below the surface: someone I can trust enough to tell things I wouldn’t share with just anyone. Someone I know so well that I’m not completely exhausted after spending time with them. But here’s the thing: I haven’t really found that in adulthood.
I moved away from my hometown when I was 22 years old. Since then, I haven’t formed the close friendships that I had with the people who still live in my hometown.
That’s not completely true. I have made a few close friends here and there. But moving four times and adding distance meant losing touch — likes and comments on social media becoming the extent of our relationship. So here I sit, in the city where I’ve lived for four years, and I still haven’t found “my person.”
It doesn’t help that I have social anxiety, but despite that, I have tried to put myself out there and make friends. Ultimately, I end up feeling like I’m doing all the work, attempting to make all the plans, so I give up when my negative thoughts kick in and tell me I’m being rejected. That is, until my therapist asked me two important questions.
The 2 Questions My Therapist Asked Me
Last week, I was telling my therapist about how my social anxiety has worsened recently, as a result of trying (and failing) to make new friends. I explained how I feel like people don’t like me because no one reciprocates my attempts to form a friendship. I actually cried because my anxiety got so bad before a birthday party that I was planning to attend with my young daughter.
A fellow introvert, my therapist had tears in her eyes as I shared my experiences with her. Then she asked me two questions:
“What’s not to like about you?”
I thought about her question for a moment, and then I couldn’t stop thinking about it for the rest of the day. Yeah, what’s not to like about me?
I’m a nice person. Like many introverts, I listen intently when a person talks to me. I’m an empath, so I care deeply about other people and what they are struggling with. I have a strong sense of humor and make jokes (even if they’re not always funny!). I try to be a good, supportive friend. So what’s not to like about me?
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. What matters is I like myself. Of course, I think everyone has moments where they don’t like themselves, but most of the time, I do like myself. And that’s what’s important. Other people don’t have to like me in order for me to like myself.
The other question my therapist asked was:
“But you like being alone, right?”
The answer to that question was simple: Like all introverts, I do like being alone. I like having my own personal space. I like being alone with my thoughts, my daydreams, and an empty sheet of paper in front of me waiting to be filled with words.
I like going shopping by myself. I like going to the movies by myself. I like going out to eat by myself. I like being able to change my plans at the last minute and have it affect no one but me.
We introverts are content with our own company. We are never truly alone because we are always exploring our own thoughts and emotions, as well as creating new worlds inside our heads. So, being physically alone isn’t that big of a deal.
People Don’t Have to Like Me
My therapist suggested I come up with a positive affirmation to curb my social anxiety and lack of confidence in creating friendships. Now I choose to tell myself that “people don’t have to like me.” Sure, it’s great if people like me. I hope they do like me. But if they don’t, is it really that big of a deal?
Many of us obsess over doing all the right things in order to make people like us. When you stop worrying about what other people think of you and focus on what you think about yourself, the weight of the world is lifted off your shoulders.
Of Course, It’s Not That Easy
I’m a big believer in positive affirmations. No, not the ones where you tell yourself you will be a millionaire next year with absolutely no path in mind to achieving that goal. I’m talking about the ones where you speak positively of your own qualities to yourself.
By speaking positively about yourself, to yourself, you literally create new neural pathways in your brain. The more you repeat the same positive affirmations, the stronger those pathways become. According to Emily Falk, one of the authors of a recent study on the topic, “the ventromedial prefrontal cortex — involved in positive valuation and self-related information processing — becomes more active when we consider our personal values.”
My therapist recommended I look myself in the mirror when I recite my affirmations, as it makes them even more effective. Some of my personal affirmations are:
- “I am confident.”
- “I am kind.”
- “I am worthy.”
I’ve found that enveloping myself in positivity with the use of affirmations makes me feel more confident — and makes the outside world a little less intimidating.
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You Don’t Have to Fit the Social Norm Because You’re Not the Social Norm
I’ve realized that part of the reason I feel like I need to make friends is I want to fit in with the rest of society. I feel like I’m supposed to have friends to be normal.
I see people posting on social media about having girls’ nights out or tagging their best friends when they share pictures and memes, and I think, “Why am I incapable of getting to that stage of friendship?” This is simply another way that social media has made me feel like I need to be like everyone else.
But we’re not all the same. I don’t need constant girls’ nights out to feel fulfilled. The few times I’ve had one, I was running on empty before the night was even over. Being in the comfort of my own home, in front of the computer screen, working on my creative writing is where I get my fulfillment as an introvert.
When I was a kid, I could spend hours playing by myself and never be bored. As an adult, I can spend hours alone with my thoughts and never be bored.
I’ve slowly but surely accepted the fact that I just don’t need to socialize very often, and that’s okay. Like many other introverts, I’m perfectly comfortable doing my own thing. This leads me to the conclusion that…
It’s Okay to Be Your Own Best Friend
I’m still working on finding a friendship soulmate. I’m still putting myself out there. But in the meantime, I’m just fine spending time with myself. I’m nice to myself, I find all my jokes funny, and I don’t have to worry about what others think about me. I have good taste in movies and music, and my fashion sense is impeccable.
I don’t mind being my own best friend. In fact, I love it.
So if you’re like me — an introvert who has difficulty forming friendships, putting yourself out there, and connecting with other people in a meaningful way — don’t be ashamed of being your own best friend.
Just don’t start tagging yourself in memes, okay?