Three years ago—before I'd met any of the women in L.A. who would become like sisters—I sat curled-up in a ball on my kitchen floor, crying. Jonah tried to soothe me between my gasps for breath and tears, as I revealed the reason for my breakdown: I had no friends.
On some level, I knew the statement was far from true. I'd moved from New York just three weeks prior, where nearly fifty people had crammed into our tiny apartment for a 'house cooling' party, and Jonah and I both already knew people in L.A. But I felt completely alone. The thing about loneliness is: It's powerful, painful, often illogical, and can come on with little any warning—especially for an extrovert. If only I knew then what I know now:
Within a year, I found friends. And then I found too many friends, people I didn't necessarily click with but made plans to see anyways, until that group thinned-out to include only the people I'd drive across town for, cook in my pajamas with, and text daily, because I missed them too much between frequent meet-ups. I made plans to visit New York, got better about Facetiming far-away friends, and before I knew it, felt enveloped in a loving community. It's been years since I've felt that crumpled-to-the-floor sense of loneliness, but it was so painful it forever imprinted on me the fear it might happen again. I still feel brief pangs of it when I go a few days without seeing friends, struggle to find guests for a last-minute dinner party, or stay home alone on a Friday night. The difference now is that I've learned how to moderate and escape from those pangs—even enjoy the loneliness.
The single most frequent question I receive in my DMs goes something like this: "I feel sad writing this, but... you look like you have such a great group of friends, and I'm struggling to find my own as an adult. How did you find them?" All I want to do in those moments is show the person on the other end of the message a fast-forward of myself, from crying in the kitchen to the same room last Friday, cooking with girlfriends and happily, badly singing along to the radio.
Even though we live in cities packed with people, and like photos on 'social' media, it's easier than ever to feel isolated these days. Most of my friends have moved far from home, accepting jobs in cities completely foreign to them, surrounded by strangers. There's a reason FOMO is a post-social media age acronym. The fear of missing out is always present when someone is always doing something on your feed. I once wrote about how to make friends in a new city—but here's my advice for when things aren't moving as smoothly as you'd hope:
I'm incredibly lucky that I made friends quickly in L.A.—but that also could've just as easily not happened. I met most of my girlfriends in L.A. through one person. I often think about how different my life would have been like if I hadn't met her! For one thing, it would have taken much longer to put together a group of girlfriends. Such a huge part of making friends is chance—it can take an instant, or years to make a good group of friends. Be patient, and trust it will happen, but also know that it has nothing to do with you if it takes longer than you'd like.
Just because you're feeling alone at one moment does not mean you'll always be. So embrace it! Go to flea markets by yourself (as Emily did the first year she lived in L.A.), see the movies you want to see, and embrace the phrase, "Table for one." Make the most of it so you can look back on the time fondly, when you were a badass, independent woman doing her own thing—and loving it.
On Monday, I went to a storytelling event and my first impression of one of the speakers was that he was a self-confident hipster (it's a specific look you come to know in L.A....). But his story surprised me: He talked about the extreme social anxiety that caused him to turn off his phone for over two years. It just goes to show: You never know what other people are going through. Even the group of girlfriends sitting at the café next to you could each feel like social outliers. Some of the women who message me on Instagram look like they have all the friends in the world—but are asking how to find them. Everyone, and I mean everyone, struggles with making friends at some point. Unless you're super woman—in which case, share your tips in the comments!
Some of my best friends in L.A. have been cupcakes and cashmere readers—and I've probably met hundreds (thousands?) of you at this point, each of whom are truly incredibly people. So get together! Come to events when we host them in L.A., or post to the Facebook Group if you live in another city (there's one in New York next week!).
I'd love to hear your stories! Have you ever struggled to make friends? Embraced the independent life? Share in the comments!