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But I did look her up, and she seemed utterly normal. She wrote fiction, and even live-tweeted For most of said life, I was convinced I wasn’t a “people” person.I grew up in a smallish Midwest town with a population just shy of 10,000.For me, it started to sink in when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at 19 and was basically homebound with symptoms for the next year or so. It was a vulnerability I hadn’t wanted to face for a long time. There’s no obvious way to meet different kinds of people outside work colleagues and your former school peers. You have to keep looking for those “clicks,” taking opportunities and making them, feeling slightly uncomfortable and lonely, even , throughout the entire process.

(It hadn’t happened before, hasn’t happened since.) I’m glad Steph didn’t play it cool, either. Follow up on “soft” happy hour invites by similarly unsure people.

And after that, I’m glad we tried, hard, to make friends, because we did make some of the best friends. Chase people who carry the kind of energy you want to be around.

Proximity friends from high school had dissipated, naturally; when you don’t have much in common, those bonds don’t remain.

I’d lost my long-time best friend to a fight that proved we were two very different people, another good friend to a cross-country move (we didn’t stay in touch), and yet another to the good ol’ engagement-and- scenario. I became close with someone from my creative writing class senior year and, although we have remained close, I felt like an imposter among her group of business-type friends (and she eventually moved, too).

And like most worthwhile things in life, it took a ton of effort to get that lucky — effort which my friends and I all continue to bring. But siblings get busy with their own lives, on totally separate trajectories from our own; mine took up residence in the ‘burbs with a partner and two kids of his own. They can often understand you in ways your birth family cannot; how you never fit in back home, how you’re evolving as a human, what sets your soul on fire and where you want to be.

We all have those moments in life where we reckon with the realities of actually . I was a relatively-cool-with-it accidental loner, until I finally caved to the slap of reality: I was missing the kind of social support that makes maturing so much easier, more worthwhile. No matter where you come from, no matter what your upbringing or birth family is like, adult friendships can be about where you’re Making those friends isn’t easy.

I joined my college’s new culinary publication and, again, didn’t seem to connect with anyone there. I tried hanging with a couple of “squads” full of great people who just didn’t feel like people. I needed distraction and mindless girl talk with someone who “got it.” Was meeting a Twitter stranger a desperate move? Getting that coffee with an internet stranger was the best random decision I’ve ever made. We went from coffee, to an event, to dinner later in the evening.

Coming in hot off a breakup to that Wednesday coffee date, to be honest, I wasn’t sure I could take another blow. She told me about the long-distance saga with her ex-boyfriend. My heart hurt a little less than it had that morning.

But it only takes two people’s intentionality to start a chain reaction. Jordan introduced us all to Amber, and a slew of engineer guy friends (one of which was her boyfriend). I honestly didn’t know what real friend-based support looked like, but my friends continue to blow me away. My friends pulled me out of it by surprising me with a fully organized dinner.

About a month later, I met my friend Katie at a mixer. A couple months ago, for example, I turned in edits for the book I was writing, which was like being in an echo chamber with my thoughts for weeks, questioning myself the whole way (fun! They made me a card and put my book cover on a cake.

When I sank into my seat at the head of the table, I waded out into the feelings of gratitude.