“I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success… Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.”
Nikola Tesla was one of the most introverted scientists of all time, but he was also one of the most brilliant.
He himself said successful invention was better than friendship and love, and that it’s best to do creative work by yourself — as a recluse.
While Tesla was brilliant, it’s widely believed his contemporaries stole many of his ideas — including Thomas Edison and Guglielmo Marconi.
The saddest part is that he died alone on the 33rd floor of a New York Hotel in racking debt. Many think he descended into mental illness.
Does that sound sad to you? It should.
The point is that it doesn’t matter how successful you are if you don’t have any friends.
You know what’s crazy? I’m 26 years old and I relate to Tesla a lot. I find it extremely difficult to make friends.
Whenever I go on Instagram I find pictures and videos of my friends with their friends who I don’t know. Sometimes there’s just one other friend with them, sometimes there’s twenty, but it makes me wonder something:
Am I bad at getting people to like me?
On my Instagram, it’s basically just me.
If I was getting married and you asked me to name my groomsmen today I’d probably have problems getting past four people.
I guess from the outside looking in you could blame it on my digital nomad lifestyle for not having deeper friendships, but I think there’s something else going on — and you may be suffering from this, too.
Friendship Requires Trust — We Forget That
Want to know how my first six years of grade school went?
I was basically bullied and harassed by my peers day-in-and-day-out for six straight years. I don’t know why they had such a big problem with me — all the boys — but after a few years, I actually started making friends with a lot of the girls to make up for it.
To this day I find it extremely difficult to act naturally in front of other men. You might not know this when you first meet me but trust me, that fear is there. I find it difficult because I just don’t trust them.
It’s no wonder to me why I don’t have many guy friends. I think all of them are just acting like they like me because that’s all the boys used to do in grade school until they shifted gears and made me realize it was all a joke.
I learned to not trust anyone pretty quick.
Those kids were horrible.
It’s occurred to me that we need to trust that strangers are actually awesome. We need to trust that they will give us a chance. And we also need to stop being so hard on ourselves.
To me, this is the most important ingredient of friendships. Trust.
I swear that every big fight I’ve had with friends the last five years happened because I assumed the worst. Why did I assume the worst? Because I didn’t trust them in that moment.
Turns out on every occasion I completely misunderstood what was actually happening.
It’s crazy how our grade school experiences can shape the rest of our lives.
Those are the seeds of my friendship disfunctionality, but here’s the pot and soil.
Friendships Require More Time
If you want a plant to grow, you need to spend time watering it. The same goes for friendship, work, romantic relationships, and hobbies.
I have just not spent a lot of time with my friends lately.
I open up Instagram and there’s unread messages. I travel so often I’m almost never within 3,000 miles of my closest friends.
Like, duh Tom — the reason you got no friends is that you’re not trying.
I’ve let my creative work consume my entire life. It’s been more important to me the last few years than maintaining friendships, and that’s because I’ve seen more value in work than play.
I think on the whole I’m generally correct that work is more important than friendships because you have to pay bills — but at the same time you can’t completely disregard friends for weeks and then assume you’ll be buddy buddy when you’re ready to hang out again.
Value Friendships Over Netflix. Alright?
I’ve seen a lot of success lately in my working life, but what does the freedom that comes with it actually mean if I’m just alone the whole time?
A lot of times lately I’ve valued work over my friendships. I’ve also really valued Netflix and chill time over going out, too.
This has to change.
Again, it doesn’t matter how successful you are — if you don’t have anyone to share it with, it’ll get pretty boring pretty quickly. It’s a very hollow life.
Make 1 Day Of The Week “Friends” Day
You don’t need a billion friends. To me, you just need one or two really good ones.
I think the solution to this friendship problem involves dedicating one day of the week to your friends. That’s literally it. It could be a Thursday night, or a Saturday, or Monday at lunch — but one thing’s for certain, you need to give up at least one day to it.
That way if you’re a workaholic like me you can schedule around it. It’s easy. You don’t need to put much brainpower to use to figure out when to meet someone. Just make a pact with your friend to grab a beer every Thursday, and it’s automatic like clockwork.
I used to really value the relationships in my life. When I made the Post-Grad Survival Guide three years ago, “Relationships” was one of the big topics I wanted to write about. And that encompassed everything from friendships to family, to significant others, etc.
I believe I need to get back to the “old” me. I need to start giving up one day of my week to my friends.
If you have a significant other, they should understand this and want you to water your friendships. Heck, they should use this day to meet with their friends, too. To me, it works out well for everybody involved, and it’s a simple solution.
So, who are you meeting next week?
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