This post is from Flower Hughes as part of their Sacred Connection event.
I am lonely. The irony of loneliness is that I am not alone in feeling this way. Young adults from all walks of life feel alone in this not-quite-child not-quite-adult phase of life. The transitions in responsibility and disruption of old routines amplifies a deficiency that most of us developed in primary school and that many carry into their adult lives: we don’t know how to have meaningful and intentional relationships with people who are not conveniently presented to us by circumstance and repetition.
The Symptoms of Casual Friendships (and why we shouldn’t settle for them)
- Out of sight, out of mind
- It is as if young adults struggle with object permanence of people. During my first semester of college, I discovered a disturbing reality about shallow friendships: if you’re not there, you’re not invited. I knew this lack of awareness wasn’t personal, but that was part of the problem. I was only invited to events if I happen to be hanging out at the time the plans were made. This applied to small things, like grabbing dinner at the cafeteria as well as big things, like planning a service project trip. When I started living off campus, my loneliness amplified. I was no longer “around” to be lumped into an invitation. I really only spent time on campus when I was in class. I would make friends with my classmates, sure, but these relationships would fade due to inconvenience as soon as the semester ended.
- Unintentional friends
- As we grow up, we are constantly put in situations where we do not choose the other people with us. As small children, playgroups are made with little regard for the child’s choice of playmates. In primary school, we are essentially randomly assigned to a classroom full of other students. Some of us got lucky and those people ended up being lifelong friends. But often, those unintentional friendships fade as soon as we move high schools or change class schedules. When we transition to college-aged adults, the possibilities of choice can overwhelm us. You stop seeing the same people every day, even more so if you don’t live on campus or do not attend university. Loneliness grows because we do not know how to put down lasting roots of intentional relationships.
- Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone
- Potentially the most damaging symptom of casual friendships is summarized by This line from Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s poem “Solitude.” All of us carry around circumstances and struggles that weigh our minds, bodies, and souls. However, these burdens are rarely shared with the everyday casual friend. Many people fear vulnerability or are simply uncomfortable with responding to negative emotions. Casual friends are great to have fun with but are rarely the shoulder you cry on.
I’m not writing this to suggest that you shouldn’t be friendly with classmates or coworkers or that the casual relationships you have with these people are bad. Often these surface connections can grow into deep roots and lifelong friends. However, humans are social creatures who cannot live in the shallow growths of convenience-based relationships. We crave more to fill our full selves. As scary as it can be, to be loved is to be known deeply and fully.
On Monday, March 11, I am going to dive deeper into this topic. The event with be at at 7pm at Derrick’s house. I deeply believe that God wants us to connect to each other as children of the most high God and that God designed us to need each other.