“Nobody wants to be lonely…”

Post Soundtrack: Nobody Wants to be Lonely – Christina Aguilera and Ricky Martin

Lonely, but never alone. This, if you let it, can sum up the Hong Kong experience.

One could casually say that it’s easy to make friends here and, depending on your definition of friendship, this could be true. HK doesn’t suffer the same fate as other cities where the only camps are the married and settled, the cliques and the too young. Hong Kongers, both natives and expats, understand that this city is of a transient nature – people move, people move out. Relationships quickly start and quickly end. It’s because of this that, if you so desire, you can always have company. Someone is always willing to introduce you to someone new – a friend of a friend, a current or former colleague.

Never alone.

The above is great, especially if you’re a social butterfly willing to chat it up at all times. For those of us who are introverts or ambiverts (a mixture of introverted and extroverted), this avoiding being alone takes WORK. Avoiding being lonely? Whew CHILE. That can seem impossible!

My first few months in HK can only be described as rough. I found myself entering friendships or relationships with people out of convenience. That worked for a second but I started to crave connections. I wanted people with whom I could laugh, but also talk to in tough moments. That was harder, so I began to obsess of the Instagrams of friends back home. I poured over stories, stalked posted photos and tagged photos. Stayed on FaceTime and the phone with my mama. That was comforting for a bit, but then it wasn’t. It became uncomfortable because I was living through folks across the globe. That just made it sadder.

Introvert, extrovert, ambivert – we all have comfort zones and I was firmly stuck in mine. I hadn’t found the motivation to step outside, nor had I conquered the fear. Meeting new people and finding new friends as an adult is challenging as a whole, because you have to leap. Those self-doubts, those fears that we associate with meeting people as children or teenagers, they don’t go away; we just recognize them more…and have more advanced words to describe them.

Still, I leapt and even that small leap –  mine as small as sending a message to a group or asking someone to coffee, has amounted to a world of change. It’s much easier to meet people, I’ve made actual friends, real connections and these things have changed my entire perception of a city I was so close to leaving two, three months ago. It’s also forced me to define my boundaries – what am I willing to give and accept in dynamics with acquaintances, friendships, relationships.  So now I have people to kick it with, but I also have people I genuinely relate to and connect with.

While I’m using my situation in Hong Kong it’s hard, as an adult, to build genuine connections in any new situation – jobs, neighborhoods, classes. How do you approach meeting new people? Do you find it easy to create new relationships and, if so, what advice can you give? Alternatively, if you find it hard, what is the most challenging aspect? What new situation were you in?

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