So often, we settle. In a new career, a new city, a new apartment, we find ourselves stranded in a life where we can’t just call someone up any time of day and go “hang out” like we used to. Making new friends is incredibly intimidating, and even just finding the time to nurture something can be far too taxing. But we fear loneliness, we fear being excluded — so we fill our lives with acquaintances. There are coworkers, whom you talk to, but you probably wouldn’t hang out with if you weren’t forced to socialize. There are neighbors, who have the alluring convenience factor, but often not a lot of substance. There are friends of significant others, who come into your life peripherally and rarely become deep friends of your own. Our lives become filled with brunches, happy hours, dinner parties, and cocktails with people who are nice enough, but with whom we wouldn’t share a secret. With whom we wouldn’t cry. With whom we wouldn’t laugh until our stomachs ached. They are simply people to move around with, people who fill your life and your social calendar, people with whom you pass some time because to not do so would make you rude, would make you strange.
We can go weeks, even months, only being around these people. We can get used to the idea that going out is as much about networking and maintaining appearances as it is about actually enjoying your time. There is a resignation to the general idea that socializing can often be work in a different form — a way to maintain the polite and potentially useful connections you have formed elsewhere. Getting a beer with someone after work hours is something you propose because it seems appropriate, because it’s simply what you do. So what if the conversation’s tedious? So what if you have nothing in common? This is what adults do, right?