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Knotting the Ties of
New Adult Friendships

They converge and take shape, they twist, tangle and sometimes unravel, break, and then connect again. The interpretation of these sentences describes to me how friendships can be. Just like any other human experience, where it does not have to be perfect. It is a convoluted, meandering, awkward, uncomfortable and messy process, which often leads to deep and meaningful relationships. 

It doesn’t matter what your age is, you can be a 30-year-old who has completed their previous study and is looking to build upon your prior knowledge or be an 18-year-old who has freshly graduated and is moving cities, states, countries or even continents and entering into this new community and culture to make friends within. 

I remember having certain thoughts when I moved from India to The Netherlands for my University study and there was a certain question that came up in all the new adult friendships I made at that time. It’s a fascinating question and perplexing in its nature, but how does one make friends without having grown up with each other — without knowing each other’s parents and seeing inside each other’s homes? When I moved to the Netherlands, the question evolved to: how do you make friends with people who know nothing about where you come from, or the culture you practice and have lived in, or the languages you speak and the many different ways you express yourselves in.

In the beginning I was nervous, anxious and stressed forming new friendships. And, as I navigated my way through this process by asking a classmate for help; meeting other internationals in the city; seeking out locals who could show me around, I discovered answers to the questions I had before. I would often wonder how much of myself I could show or should show, or how much sharing is too much sharing. These thoughts are completely normal to ponder over, and even till this day it is a recurring question for me. But what I can say is that I have gotten comfortable with the process. Not in the manner of having less uncertainty or fear, but being able to label those feelings as being excited, hopeful and observant. 

Currently some of my friendships are tight knots, whilst others are loose threads. And I am happy to make that boundary or distinction for myself, and that doesn’t mean that is permanent since we all know that these things change and that friendships converge and take shape, they twist, tangle and sometimes unravel, break, and then connect again, which makes me excited to see what kind of connections will I be making in the future.

Questions to ponder:

  • What would you do if you had the chance to do things differently?
  • Ask follow-up questions, but pay attention to boundaries—and respect them.
  • When it comes to boundaries, practice mutuality. Don’t be afraid to share things about yourself but find the line. You don’t have to go all the way in the very first interaction. Like any relationship, friendships build over time.

 

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