Do You Struggle In Your Attempt To Find Friends That Inspire You?

Ninja Portrait, Take 2







Article by Wendy McCance

I was having a talk the other day with my oldest daughter about friendships.  My daughter has been frustrated since beginning college because she is having trouble finding people she would be interested in being friends with.

Just to back up for a minute, my daughter makes friends easily, but is picky about who she wants to spend her time with.  I hadn’t realized how similar she was to me in this aspect until we began this discussion.

My daughter, like me, tends to love her own company more than that of others.  She is struggling because she wants to be more social, but is often disappointed when she hangs out with friends.   She tends to get frustrated by playing the counselor to friends who seem to always have some drama in their life or are getting into things that she is not interested in having anything to do with (partying for example).

The bottom line is that once she comes home from spending time with another, she feels that she would have had more fun hanging out on her own instead of spending that time with a friend.  I know what she is trying to express first hand.

Like my daughter, I am looking to connect with people who would inspire me.  I want to surround myself with people I can look up to and wish to learn something from.  Every now and then, I will meet someone who I get excited about because I feel like I will be intellectually stimulated by their presence.  If they are a little intimidating, even better.

A few months back, I had met a person I was really looking to get to know better.  We got an opportunity to spend some time together after a meeting.  I found this person to be quite a nice person, but spent the time we had together talking about the drama that had challenged them in their life.  It could have been an eye-opening discussion except, they were not over what had occurred and sounded more like a wounded bird than a strong survivor.  I became the audience to their speech on having a rough life.

I came out of that time shared with this new friend disillusioned and ultimately disappointed.  I have had my share of rough times, but I wasn’t going to sit there and rehash my bad moments.  I wanted to share uplifting stories and walk away feeling that if anything, there was a bond based on what we could both bring to the table to inspire each other.

There must be some signal I put out there.  It’s the same exasperated feeling my daughter is having.  We both tend to fall into the role of nurturer and get little out of these relationships that are formed.  We are not looking for the people with the broken spirit, yet that is what tends to appear in front of us.  Supporting others is fine, and can feel quite good, but sometimes it would be nice to feel like you are the one learning and gaining insight.  If I could walk away from an outing with a friend with a bounce in my step from the incredible, enlightened conversation we just had, I would be on top of the world.

I often wonder if other people feel the same way.  Are people burnt out on feeling like the caregiver?  Do other people realize that they enjoy their own company better than hanging out with those around them because they feel they get nothing but exhaustion and might need a nap from mingling with others?

My daughter has been focusing on putting her effort into taking classes, joining groups and volunteering.  Her hope is to find like-minded people in the places where she already has a strong interest.

I think she is handling her frustration in a good way.  She is being proactive about changing her circumstances by putting herself out there and going after what thrills her.

My curiosity and question for you is this, Do you feel inspired by the people who surround you, or are you feeling burnt out by what tends to feel like a one-sided friendship?

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Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 6 local papers online, including the Oakland Press.The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]

19 thoughts on “Do You Struggle In Your Attempt To Find Friends That Inspire You?

  1. Wendy, I’m so agree with your article. I have been struggling with this kinda issue lately, and I felt guilty about this feeling, not sure what to do, but i feel so much better there are someone who think exactly like me. (you and your daughter :) ) thanks for the good article. it really helped and inspired.

  2. Hi Wendy! I’m just going back through my emails from the last week or so and catching up with all the blogs I follow (like yours!) This post caught my eye because I sometimes struggle with this same issue myself. I happen to believe that a big part of the problem is that everyone is incredibly busy-myself included. The small hand full of friends that I do cherish are the ones who seem to have the time AND energy to sit with me and share BOTH the good and the not so good. As you say, stuff happens so we all have things that weigh us down. And while I will be as supportive as I can when the need arises, if the relationship is just a one way street then I have been guilty as anyone for letting those go. I enjoy friendships very much but if all they are just a co-dependent relationship then I’m not interested.

    I also think there is as author Carolyn Myss says, a lot of people who are into “wound-ology” these days. Carolyn says that many people today believe that the best way to get attention is to trot out their wounds and share them with as many people as possible to gain sympathy and support. She believes that it has become habitual because no one wants to be seen as unsupportive and kind. As I said, I do my best to encourage and support friends as long as I see them making an effort to move forward. If they are happy staying stuck then i tend to wander away.

    I’m glad to hear that your daughter is being proactive about finding people who resonate with her. I’ve always felt that I’m fine with just a few really good friends that I can count on myself. It is one of those things where quality is much more important to me than quantity.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post! ~Kathy

    • Hi Kathy, I completely agree with your point of view. I am all for being there when someone is down. It’s when they don’t share the good times with me too or are uninterested in moving past the bad times that I step back from the friendship. It doesn’t feel like much of a friendship at that point anyway. Thanks so much for your comment. :)

  3. I’m disappointed in what you have written about yourself. It is apparent that you have a heart of apathy. I wonder do you feel this way toward survivors of the holicaust, or veterans, or people who have made mistakes in life? Sometimes people need to talk through their struggles in life to get past them. Perhaps the reason why you can not find good company or a friend is because you are not being a good friend.

    • I think you are missing the point. I am referring to people who are drama all the time, must continuously see and live in the negative. These are the same people who can’t tolerate listening to someone else’s issues. The conversation goes right back to them. If ridding myself of “friends” who bring nothing to the table, are just looking for an audience and aren’t interested in finding the positive makes me a bad friend, then that’s what I am. I have had a tremendous amount of bad things happen in my life, but I refuse to dwell on it. I just can’t be around other people who don’t feel the same.

  4. I can relate to what you’re saying here, Wendy, in friend relationships. My daughter went through the same thing at college. She was on the debate team in high school and we used to have a lot of in depth, late night talks. So party time (all the time) was really challenging.

    I think making friends is getting harder these days in our culture with so much fear and a lack of trust. When you can talk with someone, it’s such a novel idea, you don’t know where to start, because you finally have a voice and feel validated.

    I think people are hungry for those deeper conversations and relationships. It takes time to cultivate and build a trust and a lot of people hurting. When they do find someone that genuinely listens, it opens the floodgates.

    But, I know what you’re saying in having a friend that inspires you and challenges your thinking. Most of my friends are like that along with my husband. They’re not afraid to push my buttons. We get in good conversations with books we’re reading, interesting topics we’ve seen, what we’ve learned and throw in a little personal stuff along the way. I usually come away feeling lifted and heard because we’ve had an exchange of ideas. The conversations aren’t one-sided.

    We takes things so personal these days or we’re parroting hype. It’s no wonder we have a hard time building friendships where we can talk and carry on meaningful conversations. Do we even have an opinion we own based on personal educated views?

    I guess I haven’t given you any answers to your questions. Maybe, I’ve only asked more. Hugs and keep on trying is all I can say. They’re out there. :-)

    • The first thing I thought when I read your comment is no wonder I feel like we connect so easily. I really think that texting, Facebook, Twitter etc… has also had a profound effect on youth today. The kids today struggle to find things to say other than a quick comment here or there. They just aren’t learning to build relationships in the same way we did as kids.

      • I agree Wendy. texting, FB, Twitter, etc., play a big part of it and it’s because we’re all in such a big hurry. It’s like we’ve gotten on this treadmill and it keeps getting faster and faster only we don’t realize it. The way commercials are clicking at us, media hype, music piped into our ears, traffic, noise, chatter and we absorb it all as the energy of it gets faster.

        We don’t have time to cultivate a friendship that has any meaning because we’re off to the next adventure. It’s like we have to be doing, going or entertained. I don’t think we can continue to keep it up for long.

        It’s already taking its toll in society with our kids, jobs, marriage, government. Sometimes, I think why things happen like they do is because otherwise we would never see it. We’d continue on forever. When they do happen, we stop and sometimes make a change.

        Sorry to get on my soapbox, Wendy. I love talking with you and the interesting topics you present. It would be fun to have a real chat sometime. On this note, I think nothing stays the same for very long and the pendulum will swing back and forth to extremes until it finally settles on a balance. I hope we see that soon.

        • I love reading what is on your mind. You always have a great take on whatever subject is presented. I totally agree with how society is changing. It will be interesting to see where everything ends up in 10 yrs. or so.

          • LOL - yeah, Wendy, my mind takes me on adventures. It’s fun seeing where I end up. However it all ends up, in the end, I don’t think we were created to destroy ourselves. So, I guess we’d better hunker down and get to learning. :-)

  5. Wendy, the people you talk about are energy vampires. They just suck the air out of the room with their neediness. Run, as fast as you can, in the other direction! Seriously, you’ve seen that these people zap your energy and vitality. Better to engage in the activities you enjoy by yourself than constantly having to uplift others around you. I feel the same way. I have become more introverted the older I get and prefer to spend time alone. These types of people exhaust me and I refuse to let them do that to me anymore.

    • Honestly Beverly, I wish you lived close by. There have been some wonderful people who stop in on this blog that I would love to hang out with. We could have a club for people who have healthy, positive energy or something like that. :)

  6. It is tough to make friends because you have to slow down and get to know each other. I am going through a period of no friends, not because of any one’s fault, but I am not in contact with many people.. Friends are a gift to be cherished.
    Mentors are the same, because it has to be a two way street. Again, it takes time and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. I hate both.
    Please do not have a list of attributes that the person must meet. You do not get to manufacture your friend with your ingredients. Try to accept the person as they are. They may be more than your expected.

    • Thanks for your comment Tim. For me, I have stayed open to whoever pops up in front of me. I have just grown weary of the high drama, life has been bad to me people I have attracted the last few years. I used to give them time and patience hoping to find more desirable qualities or that maybe they would get past the rough stuff. It got worse once they realized they had an audience.

  7. It sounds like your daughter is becoming a well rounded young lady. It’s not easy in this day and age. I find that plenty of people are willing to be my friend if I want to be more extroverted. I prefer to communicate in writing while everyone else wants to talk on the phone. It’s also difficult to talk with people who like to toss in vulgar language as though they were proper parts of speech. Good news about the online magazine. Congratulations.

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