Sarah Alexander is a disability and lifestyle blogger, as well as a Motability Scheme customer. In this article, she explains her struggles and experiences with maintaining friendships.
I never found it hard to make friends, I’m a chatterbox, always have been, always will be. In fact, the majority of my family are. We like talking to people. However, keeping friends has always been a problem of mine.
I’m very lucky that my best friend has been my best friend for 22 years. He’s been there with me through it all; we met at secondary school all those years ago and he’d visit me when I was in hospital, stay in my bedroom with me and watch films when I was flaring – he’s been a rock. Now we live over three hours away, so we don’t get to see each other often but we talk every day, even if it’s just via text message and it’s about our houseplants. We talk about anything and everything, and I’m so grateful to have such an amazing friend.
Other than him, maintaining friendships has not been the easiest. And making friends as a disabled adult is tough. I work from home so don’t have people I can become friendly with at work. My colleagues, aka my dogs, are already my friends but they wouldn’t have much to say when we go to Nando’s. Then the majority of my hobbies are done solitary, (reading, writing, photography) so there’s not much opportunity to meet people. Oh, and on top of all that, I moved 150 miles away from everyone I know five years ago. It sounds ridiculous to move so far away but I did it to be with my boyfriend and I thought I’d make new friends easily.
Albeit I don’t get to see a lot of people with my lifestyle. For a while I thought I was okay, that I was coping without friends of my own. I’d lost touch with practically everyone since I moved away. They say they’d visit and it never happened, and we just stopped making time to call or text. Life moves on, as do friendships, and that’s okay but when you have nobody to grab a coffee with and chat nonsense to, it can be really tough.
After a while I decided I had to be proactive in attempting to make some friends. I needed to actually do something because people weren’t going to just show up at my door and we magically have a lot of things in common – I had to put myself out there. I had to actively do something to meet new people and potentially new friends.
One of my closest friends I have near where I currently live appeared in my life when I wasn’t even looking, and that’s what they always say, isn’t it? It’ll happen when you least expect it or it’ll happen when you stop looking. We followed each other on Instagram as we both have chronic conditions and began sending messages back and forth. Soon after we met up for lunch and as soon as I’d spent five minutes with her, I knew we were going to be mates. We had a similar sense of humour, similar background and values, and she is just lovely.
Another friend I met via Bumble BFF, an app I downloaded on my phone that shows people that live nearby. Funnily enough, this friend practically lives over the road from me and knew my boyfriend and my dogs from walking her dog, before even meeting me. We sent a few messages, realised we had a lot in common and went out for tea. Since then we’ve had chilled evenings at my house, dinner dates, dog walks and have a few comedy gigs organised.
The internet is a great place to meet people and as a blogger I have attended a few local blogging events and met some really lovely women from them. And then I made a friend at my local salon; she was getting her nails done whilst I waited for my appointment. We bonded over dark coloured nail varnish and a love of animals. She came to my house to visit my pups and we’ve been on a few garden centre trips and lunches. People can come into your life when you’re least expecting it and she certainly did that.
Making friends as an adult is tough, it seems everyone already has their circle but there are so many ways to engage with people nowadays. If you’re not confident, I suggest taking a look at something like Bumble BFF and chatting online a lot to begin with. Maybe set up an Instagram account and follow people with similar interests. Two of my really close friends I met on Twitter years ago and we talk every day.
I highly recommend putting yourself out there, my new friends have made a big impact on my mental health and I am extremely glad they’re part of my life.
Read more from Sarah at www.fromsarahlex.com