A lot of things about being an adult are hard, but one of the hardest is making new friends.
It's not like back in school where you were practically forced into social situations every day. It was much easier to make a friend just by hanging out at recess or eating at the same lunch table complaining over last night's homework.
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Once you're out in the world, most of your time interacting with other people is limited to work. And if you work from home, those interactions are curtailed down to video conferences.
What's worse is that, thanks to the internet, we've gotten lax about forming relationships in real life because it seems like we already have a bunch of friends online. Those "friendships," however, can easily devolve into nothing more than peripheral acquaintances you only interact with by liking or commenting on their posts.
This isolated existence — where very few relationships are cultivated offline — seems to plague millennials most of all. It's why they're often called "the loneliest generation," which is way more dangerous than it sounds. Studies have shown that loneliness has a mortality rate that's on par with smoking. It causes depression and anxiety to spike, taxing the body as much as the brain.
It's even worse if you're an extrovert, because extroverts feed off the energy of other people. When you don't get that regularly, you're left depleted.
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What can you do if you're feeling lonely but don't have a clue how to make new friends? Ask therapist and YouTuber Kati Morton.
Kati is a licensed therapist who's been creating mental health videos for YouTube with the help of her video producer husband since 2011.
She became interested in psychology because she's always been fascinated by human relationships and communication. In fact, that's why she started going to therapy herself as a teenager — to learn how to better communicate with her family. And her respect for sharing feelings only grew as she studied psychology in school.
"You realize people do have the power to change and control how they respond versus react to things," says Morton. "I think that’s really empowering."
It's no surprise that several of her videos focus on how to connect with others and open up.
Image via Kati Morton/YouTube.
Therapy is not a crutch to lean on when things get hard; it's about acquiring tools so you can learn better ways of coping and reacting to things. It's one of the reasons Morton has a 24/7 chat on her website where members of her online community can reach out and help each other instead of relying only on professional help.
And the tool really works: Members have formed meaningful friendships online and have even flown across the world for various get-togethers. While some go on elaborate vacations, others who've relocated to a different city might just meet up to solidify a new friend base.
Whatever their goal, they're stepping outside of their comfort zones and learning to savor moments with people in real life. It might take some effort — but life's most rewarding endeavors always do.
For a more comprehensive look at making friends as an adult, check out Morton's video: