If you were to look at my Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, it would seem that I have lots of close friends—but the truth is, I'm one of the loneliest people I know.
I don't have a significant other, I don't have many friends, and my weekends usually consist of solo Netflix binges and gossiping with my grandma.
It isn't that I hate people or that I'm an awful person—at least I hope not; I just have a difficult time making deep, long-lasting friendships. I see people who have been best friends since birth, and it just makes me jealous. I wish I had that person in my life, but I don't know how.
I'm actually pretty social and outgoing, and I'm able to make friends quickly and easily. I've even called some of those people my best friends in the past, but it was nothing more than a surface relationship, short-lived and generally superficial. I can have fun with them and go out with them, but it's the classic friendship-revolves-around-having-fun and let's-complain-together sort of thing. There's no deep trust or meaningful connection. There are no deepest, darkest secrets exchanged or any going to the end of the world for each other. We have fun together for a while, but the friendship eventually fizzles out and we lose touch. Back to square one.
I'm not sad or upset that they aren't in my life anymore. I'm happy to have made the memories with them that I did, and that's that. But recently, I find myself asking why more than ever before.
After talking through my issues with family members (like my grandmother) and my therapist, I've realized that my need to be independent and rely solely on myself—mixed with a pinch of trust issues—is why I'm unable to make and keep deep, meaningful friendships.
Since I was a little girl, my mother stressed the importance of independence—never relying on someone else. She always taught me to create my own happiness.
As an adult, I can appreciate her teaching me this, but I also despise it, since I think it went too far. I feel as though I'm so focused on being self-reliant that I won't allow myself to form a genuine friendship. It's twofold: I refuse to let anyone be there for me, but I end up getting mad at the other person when it's actually my own fault.
I have trouble allowing myself to actually believe that there is anyone in the world (besides my family) whom I can trust not to hurt me. Unlike family, friends choose to be in your life. The point is, I have trouble trusting that someone chooses to love you rather than loving you by default.
Because of these issues, I lost someone who, at one time, I considered a good friend. Our friendship grew over five years, and it was the closest I'd come to having a best friend. I knew everything about him, but there was a lot that I didn't share about myself.
As time went on, I felt as though he was using me, like I was just there for his convenience. I didn't believe that he was actually my friend and that he would actually be there for me if I needed him. I felt like he was only calling me when he needed something. A superficial friendship.
In hindsight, I know this was actually my fault; I didn't allow him to be there for me. I didn't let him know things about me that I wanted help with, so there was no way he could help. I was blaming him for things he had no control over.
So, I went through the motions as I always do with any other "best friend" in my life. I completely stopped talking to him. I didn't return his calls or texts, I cut off access to my Hulu and Netflix accounts, and I went on about my life as if the friendship had never happened.
So, by not developing a true friendship with anyone, I am avoiding any chance of being betrayed or becoming dependent upon someone else, which are two of my biggest fears in life.
However, as I get older, I realize that I do end up being more hurt without friendships in my life. I have started to want to create beautiful friendships because I've grown tired of my loneliness and fears.
I try to reach out more to the people in my life and keep in touch, I try to let them in more, and instead of allowing the relationship to fade away, I'm trying to hold onto it and let it grow.
As for my friend, I reached out, but I had already damaged the friendship. He wasn't interested in fixing what I had broken. While I don't have him in my life anymore, I did learn from it: I learned to let people in, let them see me for who I am, and I learned to cherish friendship.
In the end, I've got to allow myself to be vulnerable. I need to just trust that someone will have my back in a bad situation. I'll need to let them see all the things that make me me—that I'm indecisive, talk too much, and sometimes a bit selfish—and I'll hope that they choose to love me and stick around, regardless.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.