An astonishing 3 in 4 Americans report feeling lonely according to U.S. News and World Report.
Back in high school and my first few years in college, all I wanted was to have as many friends as possible.
I was a people-pleaser who gained energy from having new friends and lots of people to keep up with. My behavior caused me to feel lonely, even though everyone thought I was so satisfied in life because I appeared to have lots of friends.
Now that I’m older and have had time to reflect, I no longer favor having a large social circle. Once I returned home from deployment, I jumped into a small new circle of people I would consider my “ride or dies.”
The three of them make me feel like I naturally belong in their friend group — one of the most important values for me in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
It seems crazy that I could feel like I want to do anything for these people within only a few weeks of knowing them, but I know it’s going to be long-term, whatever it takes.
Communication is Much Better
Now I don’t mean to be cliche here, but communication is indeed key. Once you establish your relationship within a smaller group, it’s easier to communicate and keep track of one another.
When you have multiple friends to keep up with, it can feel overwhelming.
You may have so many more friends than everyone else, but still feel so alone. That’s because you’re not digging beneath the surface and lack depth.
It doesn’t mean you don’t have depth, but there’s room within the friendship or relationship.
Benefits of a small friend group
- I know what everyone likes and what can trigger them
- It’s easier to read social cues because we’re all very familiar with one another.
- We can tell when something is off within each other.
- Our interests all line up and it’s easier to make plans.
- You feel like you don’t need any other people in your life.
I can’t stress enough how fulfilled I feel after being deployed and spending time with the six to seven people who genuinely made me happy.
They brought out the best in me, and that’s why I value this small friend group I discovered when I returned home.
If you feel emptiness or that there’s a void somewhere in your life, consider picking a small group of people, heck even just one person who you want to commit time to and stick with them.
Toxic people can break a person down into shreds, so just be sure that whoever you choose to spend your time and energy on is worth it.
Even The Simplest Moments Feel So Special
When you can sit in a field with nothing else around you and still have the time of your life, you know that you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people.
My friend group bonds over a particular niche of electronic music, and every single car ride feels like we’re at a music festival, living the time of our lives.
When you can do the simple things that most people wouldn’t get an ounce of excitement from, you have found your tribe.
As an extrovert, I felt like I always needed to be bouncing off the walls with expensive outings, but I’ve found that I can enjoy the simple moments as long as it’s with the right people.
Some simple things we do together that give me happiness and fulfillment include:
- Listening to music
- Playing video games
- Talking about life and showing support
- Showing each other memes
- Telling stories from the past
You may look at this list of activities and feel underwhelmed. But when I look at this list, I can point to several unforgettable memories and see them as the most exciting parts of my life right now.
I’m not asking for too much in life. If you want to feel satisfied and a little bit happier, all you really need is a connection, trust, and a little adventure.
You Don’t Have to Keep Looking
Always looking for friends to fill a void in your life can be damaging. Sometimes you’ll feel like you aren’t enough and that people don’t genuinely care about you.
As we grow up, we realize it is less important to have lots of friends, and more important to have real ones.
Always looking for the next best thing ends up feeling like a rat-race you’ll never get out of. The fact is, you’ve got to do some searching and be open to new friendships.
But when extraordinary people come into your life, it would be in your best interest to keep in touch and actually try to build something from it.
Thankfully, I have the lucky satisfaction to feel like I no longer feel like I haven’t met the right people yet.
That’s because I have, and I’m going to do everything in my power to keep them around — not in a toxic way, but by maintaining trust and keeping communication open.
Small friend groups will boost your confidence, happiness, and overall sense of fulfillment once you realize the real value they hold.
I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum of having tons of friends versus only a few, and I’d take the few friends any day of the week.
You are not alone if you’re feeling a sense of loneliness. It doesn’t mean you need twenty people to make you happy. All it takes is one.
They say you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so be sure that whoever you place into that special group is worth your time and truly cares about you.
Time is short but can feel so long-lived once you establish your small friend group.