Principles of friend making: Third wheeling

I consider myself to be a smart woman. But I suck at social skills, one of them involves: keeping good relations with people that I don’t need to interact with otherwise, but who happen to have been close friends of mine at some point.

In a quest to not be friendless, a few months back, I decided to make more friends. My only algorithm being 1) join people whenever they invite you, 2) sometimes plan things on your own and invite others. For a 24 year old fun-loving and sometimes uptight girl, how hard can that be?

So this experiment has led to varied responses that I’ll elaborate on:

1) My first attempt at going out of my way to make friends was when my friend and senior took pity on me (well, I was quite upset) and asked me to join him on a couples night. That would have been cool, except that I’m not part of a couple here, my boyfriend stays miles away. I went super late to the dinner, just in time to play the board game Dixit (which is quite cool, btw). Thankfully the couples (there were 3) were low on PDA and all of them were PhD nerds, and they made me quite comfortable. And food was great too. And barring the fact that I was actually the 7th wheel in the whole deal, I’d actually call this a #win.

2) My second attempt at making friends was when I initiated a plan to go to Reiman Gardens in town. I asked my roommate (that I had never hung out with before then) to join me and I told her she could invite anyone else. She invited a third person (a girl) that I didn’t know of and whom she was merely acquainted with. So what happens when three girls who don’t know each other too well “hang” out at a garden?

I’m not a selfie/beauty enthusiast, so I was thrown off by the apprehensions of these girls, of getting tanned and getting the right selfie in the right lighting. We were in a park full of butterflies and beautiful plants and flowers and sculptures, but I completely missed out on that. Also, we had to walk a lot in the hot summer to get to and from the place due to lack of transit options. Only other thing we could talk about was pop music. I’d call this a #fail.

3) I think I have a tendency to build escape options for every social plan. I get quite anxious when I meet new people or have to spend a long time with people I don’t know too well and can’t connect with. So at the back of my mind, I need to have an escape available. I need to have an event to get to. Or work to finish. This time, my roommate invited me to play badminton with her good female friend. Background: 1) I had only played badminton around 10 years back and I wasn’t particularly good at it, 2) I was actually really good at sports​ otherwise during school so I generally hate losing.

Needless to say, I lost badly in the matches. And my roommate’s friend had to leave early. So we finished up our game and then proceeded to do some stretching exercises. And after that I went back to work. I lost a few games and some weight but I gained social skills and maybe some fun too. I’d call it a #win.

4) I was invited by my roommate and her supposed boyfriend to watch Dunkirk at the movie theater late at night. I’m not exactly sure if they are dating but I don’t have enough evidence to support the premise that they are not. 

Now this had high potentials of getting awkward, but I said yes for two reasons: 1) I’ve watched every Nolan movie. So I had to watch the latest one, 2) my friendship algorithm. So I did go ahead. The thing about movie theaters are that they are optimal for dates. And one always assumes that the people beside don’t realize what’s happening, but they always do. Always. 

Plus, this wasn’t a conventional Nolan movie. It was more of a documentary. I kept checking Wikipedia to stay on track with the story, so I was getting distracted very easily. And the couple didn’t make it any better. I covered my face with my hair so I could block out any sight of intimacy. #fail #bigfail #horriblefail

5) I organized a meetup for students from my undergrad university. Only two guys turned up and they knew each other well but I didn’t know either. But the good thing for me was that this was my domain. We had a lot in common to talk about. All PhD nerds from the same previous and current university. I think I had a lot of fun on that one. Plus we had good Indian food to go along with it. I’d call it a #win.

I guess the algorithm seems to #win every other trial, which probably means I just need to keep giving this a shot. I might need to add more constraints to it to refine it, but I’m quite happy with the results so far. I’m certain that in expectation, I won’t be friendless.

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