Where did my friends go?

I used to be the outgoing one, the glue that held the group together, I belonged to a plethora of different friendship groups and then all of a sudden I was a lone wolf.

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Growing up, everyone wanted to be my friend, I was forever trying to split myself in half to appease everyone. I was popular and everyone enjoyed my company. I made people laugh. I made people feel at ease. I always tried to include everyone. I was the creative one who found or made things for us to do. I was a free spirit and I was a good friend.

So what happened? I can’t pin-point the moment that it all changed for me but what I can say is this: At 22 years old I literally have no friends. No exaggeration. I don’t want sympathy or pity, it’s through things I’ve done, just as much as it’s through things people have done to me. I’ve pushed people away, when my mental illness took over my life, I continuously cancelled plans, postponed things and wriggled my way out of socialising because I just didn’t feel up to it. Eventually some people got sick of my shit and they stopped asking me out, didn’t want to spend time with me, it sucked but it was my own fault. 

I’ve lost friends also because of insecurity. I really do loathe myself, and as time goes on, it is becoming worse. I feel so self-conscious about myself that I’m too afraid to let my hair down and be myself and because of this I have lost myself. Well and truly. Sometimes little glimpses appear of the old Charlene and it makes me sad, but happy, too. I want to cling on to that girl and reassure her and allow her to come out because damn I miss the way I used to be. I miss how good it felt to make people laugh, to be the friend that everyone came to for advice and reassurance, to be the one whose company they most enjoyed. I want to be that girl again.

I realised I didn’t have any proper friendships when it was my 22nd birthday and I had not one friend to celebrate with. Not one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m blessed to be part of the blogging community, and I received an abundance of gifts and cards from you lovely lot but I mean ‘real life’ friends here, the kind I can spend time with on a regular basis. That doesn’t happen but you catch my drift. My blogging friends are truly magnificent and whenever I get the chance to meet any of you in the flesh you have NO idea how much that means to me…

Yes. I spent my 22nd birthday with not one friend to spend it with. I received a card from one of the girls I go to university with, and I’d call her a good friend, but she lives too far away for us to have celebrated together. The card that she sent to me meant the world. She thought of me as a friend and went out of her way to acknowledge my birthday. Why did none of my ‘friends’ who live nearby do that? Why did I feel so alone? I don’t want to rant too much here but I’m just sharing the epiphany I had – the moment I realised that I really didn’t have anyone.

It’s hard to have no friends in a day and age where social media is at the forefront of everything we do; it’s hard to log in to Instagram, Facebook and the likes and see people you went to school with all meeting up and keeping in touch. It’s hard to see people your age going on nights out, seeing the world together and just doing stuff. My ‘best-friend’ at the moment is the postman because every day he brings me letters from ‘friends’ from afar, that I might not get to see, but that think of me often and ask after me. It’s nice to be wanted. It’s nice to feel loved and appreciated. We all need that in life, don’t we? On the days where I don’t receive a letter from a pen-friend I feel so detached and isolated from this world.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post. It’s a personal reflective one, and those are my favourite kind to write, but this one is saddening. I’m finally admitting that I ain’t got friends. I’m 22 and I’m so fucking lonely it shatters me. I miss having friends. I miss having heart-to-hearts. I miss belly laughs. I miss feeling comfortable in someone else’s home like it was my own. I miss making plans. I miss looking forward. 

I so badly wanted to write this post because I’m genuinely curious to know if anyone else feels the same, and if they do, then maybe they will take some comfort from knowing they aren’t alone. I’ll be your friend from afar. I ain’t got many friends IRL but online I have tons and at least every day I can get support, encouragement and ‘friendship’ from them. I know it’s not the same as a real life tangible friend but it’s something. Imagine we didn’t have social media, I’d literally be lost to the world, my only friends my cats, parents and my boyfriend. 

Where did all of my friends go? Why am I so lonely, at 22 years old and in my second year at university, am I not meant to be in my prime? When was the last time I had a friend to go to the dancing with? When was the last time I was invited to a party? Sigh. I needed to get this off my chest so badly. As much as I hope that there’s nobody out there in the same boat as me, I kind of hope there is, because then I’ll feel less alone and maybe for once I won’t go through the day beating myself up. 

Take care,

Until next time,

Charlene McElhinney

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22 Comments

  1. Victoria Austin
    September 26, 2018 / 8:59 am

    I dropped away from people in my early twenties too, dropping out of things meant people disappeared too and yep. Here we are! You’re totally not alone in this. xx

  2. September 26, 2018 / 9:07 am

    Hey Charlene. I can absolutely relate. I’ve always been the outsider, had no friends in my early teens and barely gained a few over the years. I’ve been living in a hostel for almost two years and I must say I’m lucky I’ve met some incredible people I befriended. I was feeling utterly grateful for the new friendships I was making but of course all of them left. I kept in touch with a few of them, and I miss them. Last week was my 21st birthday and I felt heartbroken when I realized some of the people I considered my best friends didn’t reach out to me on social media (the only way they could’ve). I felt heartbroken realizing that barely a few people really cared and nothing has changed. I know how painful loneliness is. I know how it can so easily lead to isolation and depression. I guess all I can say is we are not alone. <3

    Giulia
    http://thehighheeledpapergirl.wordpress.com

  3. sunshinesarahxo
    September 26, 2018 / 11:21 am

    Oh my darling please know that you are never alone i am always here for you .i know it doesn’t mean much when i can’t just hop on a bus or train to come see you but please know that i am only ever a phonecall or message away 💖💖💖💖
    That being said i know exactly how you feel. Moving to a new town was so difficult for me because when i first arrived i didn’t know anyone. Leaving behind my friends was so hard & i struggled to adapt especially since i developed social anxiety which just halted any chance i had of joining in & making new friends. It really sucks & I hated it. I have friends now but none like the ones i left behind, the ones who knew me best & understood me. 💖
    I am so sorry you’re feeling this way Charlene but sadly i think it’s the way of things nowadays.
    Love you beautiful lady.
    Sarah xoxo

  4. September 26, 2018 / 7:18 pm

    I relate to this post so much, I think as we get older, we start to realise who our true friends really are, but you’re absolutely fabulous in every way and you’re never alone!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

  5. September 26, 2018 / 7:19 pm

    I respect how honest and vulnerable you are in this post – but know you are not alone. I’m 21 and I’ve lost all my friends too from high school, and I didn’t go on to attend college, plus I work from home. So, there goes all my social interaction to go out & meet people, my circle consists of my boyfriend and my family, that is all. I don’t tend to beat myself up about it, I just realize this is the way my path has gone, and I am quite focused on building my business right now anyway, so if I had friends I probably wouldn’t go out to party or anything lol. It helps to have friends of course, but while you are trying to put yourself out there, don’t forget to focus on yourself and just live your life! Love on your family, and just be grateful for what is around you! Things will fall into place! xo

  6. September 26, 2018 / 8:07 pm

    I really felt for you with this post, mental health illnesses are such thieves, I lost a lot of friends because of my mental health and when i moved i left friends behind, but they’re always still there for me, i didn’t know hardly anyone when I did first move and at times when my boyfriend was working I didn’t know what to do with myself which is actually why I started a blog, fast forward a couple of years I’m starting to mae friends but i remember how tough it was not really having any, I’m always here if ya fancy a chat!.
    Charlie | http://www.charlieswonderland.co.uk

  7. September 26, 2018 / 8:39 pm

    I found this post so hard hitting because my situation is so similar. At 18 I didn’t want to go to uni and I didn’t have a full time job, I went to college with nobody I knew and I really struggled with not being on the same path as my friends. As the academic year progressed less of my friends from school got in touch, and they stopped seeing me when they came home and I lost them all together. That really started to break me as a person, like I should not be feeling loneliness as a 19 year old woman. But I did and it really wrecked my mental health. Its been a hard few months but I’m getting closer with my college girls and started a new job with really amazing people and it’s buikding me back up and I still have that knife in my back and my guard is up. Thank you for sharing your story because this is the first time I have seen anybody talk about this and now I feel a connection to you in a way I haven’t for anyone online🧡

    • September 26, 2018 / 9:53 pm

      Hi Alex. Saw this comment and just wanted to say sorry to hear you have been going through the same and I’m wishing you well!

      • September 27, 2018 / 4:30 pm

        Thank you so much, it’s hard but it will make me a stronger person x

      • September 28, 2018 / 2:51 pm

        Thank you so much that is so kind of you. It’s hard but it’s a process of change and growth. Them people clearly weren’t destined to be part of my journey. I really appreciate your comment, have a great day x

  8. September 26, 2018 / 9:51 pm

    Charlene this is a great post not because of the content but because of how honest it is. I think lots of people will relate to this. You said you cancelled plans because of mental health but the key thing to remember is that mental health is never your fault. You mentioned you lost friends because of insecurities but always remember those insecurities are something that you can continue to work on and work positively with. Also remember just how much people have sent you blogger mai. For each person who has sent something to you thinks that you are worth that time and effort and if so many people make the time and effort for you then you must be doing something right in their eyes. Hope this helps in some way!

  9. September 27, 2018 / 10:06 am

    I’ve just responded to your postcard and I spoke a lot about this post in my letter because I gave it a read yesterday so I won’t repeat myself but this is SUCH an important post and I bet you’re surprised with how many people have agreed or been through similar things? Loneliness and being friendless in your 20’s needs to be spoken about more xxx

  10. Lisa's Notebook
    September 27, 2018 / 10:41 am

    Ah, Charlene, this was such a well-written post. I think you’re so brave to tackle this subject, it’s one I don’t think there’s anything like enough debate around it. I don’t keep in touch or see anyone I went to school or university either, and I have very few mummy friends that I can talk to, let alone socialise with. I know what you mean about friends IRL and friends online. I value my online friends so much because I have so few IRL too. I’m sorry you’ve had to write this post but I hope you know how loved and valued you are but our online community. We’ll always be here for you xx

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

  11. September 27, 2018 / 4:28 pm

    I can really relate with this post. I think being in your 20’s is a tricky age as everyone is moving in different directions. Since coming back home from uni I struggle to see my friends because a lot of my friends are still at uni and are spread around the country. Some friendships have fizzled out completely! Don’t worry, you are definitely not alone.

    Eve x https://evemorganinteriors.com/

  12. September 27, 2018 / 4:29 pm

    Thank you for sharing this honest post, you’re so brave. You’ve created such a great community here online but trust me you’re not alone with friends disappearing. You’ll soon find them and keep them forever – I can probably count my greatest friends on one hand and that’s al you need. We all change and grow up and sometimes it is us but that’s okay. You’ll find your way!

    Jessica & James | http://www.foodandbaker.co.uk / http://www.foodandbakertravels.co.uk

  13. September 27, 2018 / 4:34 pm

    Wow, it’s like you’ve written exactly what is going on inside my head Charlene. I haven’t got any friends either – I have one real-life friend who lives in London, and apart from that I have no one. It is so, so hard to see my school friends all still in each others lives and to be the odd one out. Even my best uni friend is no longer really in my life. I think mental illness is incredibly hard and it’s so difficult to make other people understand that when we cancel plans it’s not because we are being rude, it’s that we are ill. Please know that I will aways be your friend – and we’re not that far apart! We really need to meet up so that neither of us ever feel so unbearably lonely again xxx
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

  14. September 27, 2018 / 4:42 pm

    Charlene!! I hear you, I can very much relate to this and it’s painful to feel loneliness so tightly it suffocates me some days. I like my own company and the creative stuff I do that makes me happy like reading, walking, yoga & blogging I can do by myself and that’s fine, but I miss the friendships I see others having, to have friends you can pop in on anytime, where you can go on holiday together etc. I had close friendships at school and college but then we all dispersed off across the country to jobs, uni etc and so then I lost touch with a fair few but then at uni my mental health suffered, I had to take a leave of absence that eventually lead to me moving to finish my degree elsewhere and I lost the friends I made then. Adult friendships are much harder I feel; people seem to just want to stay “work friends” but out of work you don’t meet up, and then my job became lone working so now I have no colleagues I see. Parenting, especially with a kid that has had a lot of medical conditions, is even more isolating and full on so I can’t drop everything or be able to face going out of I haven’t slept properly all week or feel like nobody understands my reality. The latest blow has been a close friend that became “radicalised” by social media to spout racist/bigoted at any opportunity that I just will not ever tolerate, for anyone. So they’re gone. *Sigh* maybe it just is nicer just me & my family x

  15. September 27, 2018 / 5:59 pm

    This post is 100% relatable Charlene. Thank you for being so open and honest and helping others feel less alone. I had a big friendship group in my late teens but gradually over the years we have gone our separate ways. A lot of them got married and had kids and I always felt a bit left behind. It’s so hard to make friends as we get older, so to me online friendships are really important and just as real. Thank you again for sharing, and reading your post and all the comments has been so comforting knowing that we all feel the same <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  16. September 27, 2018 / 6:34 pm

    If it makes you feel any better my early 20s were my loneliest time too. My friends from College and I all went to different unis, I didn’t partiularly enjoy my time at uni, I was in an (unhappy) long distance relationship, my parents only lived in the UK half the year and I sure as hell didn’t feel like an adult. This will pass and you’ll find those lifelong friends that mean as much to you as family. I know I have.

  17. September 27, 2018 / 7:11 pm

    I totally feel you, I feel alone most of the times especially that I’ve moved away from my family and friends, I am currently living in canada and they live in the middle-east. I do feel better than before, cause I found two good friends [who live far away from me but I do talk to them sometimes] and I live with my boyfriend but back at school, I hated my life, I had no one. I used to eat alone, go the cinema alone, stay home alone on a Saturday, it was so hard.

  18. September 30, 2018 / 10:19 pm

    I can not tell you how much I can relate to this post and it saddens me that it has happened to you at only 22, when I moved to Cornwall I had no friends (I know I’ve told you this in one of my letters) and I felt so lost, isolated and alone despite being surrounded by so many people who I could have befriended. I value our friendship Charlene so so much that if you only lived up the road I would be inviting you round for a cuppa and a chat anytime. The girl you think you’ve lost is still there, just under the surface of maybe a barrier you’ve put up, you never really lose the person you was before. But even if you never get back there you are one of the kindest, loveliest, selfless, funniest, beautiful people I know!

  19. October 23, 2018 / 9:36 pm

    I feel you so much. This is all too common in your 20s. Just an overall weird, tumultuous time although it feels very…static??

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