“A man is rich not by what he owns but what he can do without.” — Immanuel Kant
It was in 2014 when I carried my two luggage to head to a different country and start a new life with my future husband. It was a very exciting phase after enduring three years of long distance relationship. Behind the excitement, a huge feeling of anxiety and discomfort exist.
“Why are you leaving your career?”
“Are you willing to start all over again?”
“Are you sure about your decision?”
These are some of the questions given to me. I was 100% certain that I’m willing to embrace the life ahead of me. After all, I will be with the man I love.
It should be easy, right?
Fast forward to this date, I am still struggling in some areas. I can’t drive, so it limits me more to see people. Sometimes, loneliness is pretty unbearable.
It’s been nearly three years, and I still have ZERO FRIENDS. And by this, I mean someone that I can consider my kindred spirit.
“Let’s buy a new sofa set, so you can invite your friends at home,” my mother-in-law said. I grinned and said, “I have no friends to invite.”
On the early years, it was a hard pill for me to swallow. I volunteered to look after kids, attended crochet and gardening groups, and joined cooking contests for the hope of finding new sets of friends. But then, they are so scarce and far away from me.
Is it because of my race? Is it because how different I look compared to them? Is it because of my accent?
I eventually got tired chasing people to come into my life.
I miss the feeling of being invited to eat outside. I miss the small chit chats. I miss the feeling of having friends.
Even my friends back home were far beyond reach. I could not confide to them about my situation for the fear of adding emotional burden to them. They are all busy. I can’t swim with them anymore. I need to swim on my own.
A surprising thing happened to me on this journey.
What Having Zero Friends Taught Me?
1. No One Else Can Motivate Me Better Than Myself
“The will to win, the desire to be successful, the urge to reach your full potential…these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” — Confucius
As human, I look for others’ approval before I commit myself to something. I look for encouragement from others like my friends to evaluate if I am heading in the right direction. But nobody knows what the outcome would be.
I realized I have to follow my intuition. If there is something I desire that does not violate the law of God and nature, I go for it.
I remind myself that I can do it. There is only learning to have whether I succeed or not. I don’t need anyone’s approval. I need to hear my own voice whether I should go for my dreams or not.
In teaching, intrinsic motivation is more encouraged instead of giving bribes like stars and rewards. This will push the student to excel if there is an inner drive to help fuel the goal. It comes from within the individual out of will or interest.
2. Find Out My Strengths and Weaknesses
“If you’re being ignored, that’s a good time to concentrate on finding yourself and creating your own mystery.” — Lykke Li
When I am surrounded by people who are always willing to help me, it makes me rely on them so much. But when I have no one to ask for help, it opens new areas for learning.
I was told I am good in theories but not much on practical. My friends pampered me with tasks that require more of cognitive skills. Since no one is there to help me, I had to turn my weaknesses into strengths.
I discovered myself, even more, when there are no outside noises to dictate what I can or cannot do. It gives me the chance to know myself even further. It is a time to create myself.
3. Learn Anything My Heart Desires
“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.” — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Since I have no one to seek counsel with, I opened myself to more room for learning. I read books more than I ever did in my entire existence. I attend courses and seminars. I join conferences to improve myself.
My situation gave me a limitless perspective. In the past, I had no interest learning other areas because my circle of friends is the same. I never wanted to get out of my comfort zone.
But since I have no choice, I found out it is exciting to try and discover something new. Who would realize that reading philosophy books are fun? How would I know I can actually learn how to sew? How will I know I have the courage to join a cooking contest and win the 2nd place?
I found out that I can learn anything if I have the determination and persistence to do it. I don’t need other people’s go signal to try something new. Learn without guilt. Try without reservations.
4. Discover A New Set Of Imaginary Friends
“Power may be produced through friendly alliance of minds.” — Napoleon Hill
Well, the truth is I have friends. It’s just that they don’t exist physically. But they sure come up to me when I need them. They give me pieces of advice that sometimes are very hard to swallow when I need one. They don’t sugar coat their messages. They hit you right at the core just like real friends do.
I met my new set of friends from books I read, documentaries I watch and seminars I listen. I study them carefully. I try to get to know them better day by day. I write down all the important messages they have for me.
Sometimes they keep me awake at night. When I try to solve my problems, they are there seated on a round table brainstorming for the great plan. They never fail to give me the right message. They always remind me of my goals and dreams.
Even Napoleon Hill has his own Master Mind Alliance. Napoleon Hill is one of my great friends. Would you believe that lots of famous presidents, entrepreneurs and people belong to this set? I trust them, and I believe they have my best interest in mind.
Who said friends should only be physical, right? I define them as people who push me to become better and aid me when I need them.
5. Have Stronger Faith Than Ever
“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” — Saint Augustine
Having no friends right now helped me to strengthen my faith more than ever. It reminds me that everything happens for a reason. It is a belief that tomorrow is going to become better than today.
Most importantly, my faith in myself became stronger. It constantly reminds me that I can do it and can push myself even further.
When there is no one to cheer me around, I need to be my own believer. It removes doubts and fears of the unknown. It inspires me to take that brave step that even real friends won’t think I can. It fuels my determination to soar higher than my current situation.
6. Develop My Relationship With My Husband
“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” — Henry Ford
Having zero friends around helped me to become closer to my husband. I learned the value of giving and taking. I appreciate the time I spend with him. He gives the right advice without any reservations.
He always believes in me. I learned the real meaning of “trust.” When friends are scarce, that’s when I realize the importance of people in my family. The ones who never left me and accepts me for who I am.
Having friends is fun, of course. Having someone to share happy moments with. Having someone to shed a tear with. Having someone to laugh with the silliest jokes ever.
I cried several nights wishing I have some. But circumstances make it more difficult to find them.
While I’m hopeful that I will meet them at the right time, I am also thankful they aren’t here right now. This phase helped me value the importance of friendship, but it likewise helped me to see that to be a better friend, I have to befriend myself first.