I get the impression that a considerable portion of the readers of TOL are men or women either in college or beginning their careers. This means that many of us face the same decisions, whereby friendships become secondary to our careers or education. Indeed, the tragedy here is that any path that prioritizes friendships over other considerations risks losing much more if one’s friends do not reciprocate the gesture.
Now, having few or no friends is not always a bad thing, and in many cases, one is better off alone. But this article is not about making friends. So much has been written and said about making friends that to say more here would be gratuitous, and it would only be useful to readers in particular circumstances. Moreover, the solution to the loneliness one may feel without friends is not simply to make friends. Before and beyond this, one has to evaluate not only the amount and sorts of friends he needs but also how to be receptive to people and comfortable around them.
Examine your attitude.
For most of my life, I’ve dealt with social awkwardness, and I’m certainly not alone. Awkwardness is not only an obstacle to initiating interaction with others but also an affliction to one’s attitude. It’s not uncommon to have an automatic fear of other people or a sense that getting to know someone would not be worth the effort and discomfort. However, it may not be necessary to overcome shyness to overcome the crux of awkwardness. Indeed, improving one’s attitude to realize that others generally mean well and may even be suffering from the same discomfort may also help one to be satisfied without friends; again, having no friends is not always a bad thing and can even be the result of a conscious decision. Certainly, shyness remains an obstacle to actually making friends, and nothing I could say here would aid in that any better than the thousands of other articles on that particular topic. But focusing on the attitude aspect of awkwardness can improve one’s life whether he determines he needs more friends or not.
Focus on yourself.
Think—who strikes who as too friendly? How stable can a friendship with an overly friendly person ever be? I could write an entire article about overly friendly people, but here it suffices to say that interacting with an overly friendly person is frustratingly shallow. Be wary of the selfless; to be selfless is to have no self-respect to project onto others. When you neglect yourself but still force yourself to try to make friends, you risk becoming this person. If you are to be capable of valuable and lasting friendships, you need great reverence for yourself in order to project it onto others. Moreover, the confidence of a life without superfluous relationships is itself improved—in fact, allowed—by precisely this. In short, the solution to loneliness can begin nowhere outside of you. This leads me to my last point.
Be alone for a while.
There is a reason you have no friends. Whether it was within your control or not, something probably has to be done differently in the future if you are to avoid loneliness, and solitude is a necessary part of that. A great deal can be accomplished, and a great amount of enjoyment can be found in solitude. Friendship is an accessory to this. Again, whatever other people can do for you, the solution has to start with you, and remaining alone will keep you from searching elsewhere.