Studies have shown that people feel more lonely and have fewer friends and confidants in their lives. That means less people we can talk to, and less people we can have meaningful conversations with. Friends help us with our health. They help us with overall well-being, making us feel we matter and are important. But we struggle to make, and hold on to friends. Life appears manufactured to keep us apart from one another. Why?
Friends and friendship is a luxury commodity worth more than success or status
I believe the modern era of smartphones and Instagram and Facebook has made us all very self-conscious. Having a mirror or camera around wherever we go, constantly chasing the next event to post about online, we have become very self-aware, perhaps too self-aware, to the point where we feel almost blinded to the feelings and experiences of others. The more we use phones around friends, the more ignored we make our friends feel.
But it’s not the full explanation, it could never be. A much more important one is the pressures and expectations we have on our own lives. Pressures and expectations that keep us constantly preoccupied with our own life and its shortcomings. We have things we need to do and not enough time to deal with anyone else’s struggles. We are basically more focused on our own status and success, and less on making friends.
The Anxious, Avoidant Attachment Style
Many people hold a so called avoidant attachment style. People with this attachment style tend to rate themselves as second-rate. We feel like the weakest link in a chain and we feel often that we are an unnecessary weight on others and that others want to break free from us.
It makes sense that a society so focused on individual achievement fosters such an inability to celebrate global phenomenas such as kindness, benevolence, and shared projects, hobbies, and interests. Our idea that we, singular, we have to achieve something, keep us from truly appreciating the things we do together with others.
One response here is to, when anxious, become overly dependant and pushy on others. More commonly, we become avoidant. We refuse the chance to have meaningful connections with others. I don’t believe we need more friends, well I do, but I believe we are the ones that have to open up to make those connections ourselves. We need to start to manufacture a life where friends come first and success in work and life comes second.
I have been working on a model that describes in a Maslowian sense, what we need and what we want to achieve first in life. I think in today’s world, our first priority is survival, then family, then, in the third stage, we develop our own identity and individuality. After that, we get an education, and then a career, and after that, we start a family of our own. Then, after that, we finally start realising we need friends and social networks to get us through the day.
I think instead of this, we should take things in a different order. We should find love, family, and friendship before we start pursuing our dream job or dream career. We should wait until we are 40 before we try to peak or “become” something. Until then, we should settle for a nice and decently paid job that gives us time to live and enjoy life. Because friends and friendship are a true luxury commodity, and good friendship is worth more for you in terms of health and well being, than a good job or a successful career.