How our personality and friendships change in adulthood

They say people change, but not much. I used to believe that until I experienced a huge transformation myself.

You see, I was born an extrovert. I was such a natural it took little convincing otherwise. Nothing could shut my mouth from crying as a toddler, screaming as a child, storytelling as an adolescent, laughing as a young adult, being the life of the party as an adult… and then I hit mid-life.

This post is very current, as I just made this discovery exactly a week ago. I had spent a full day sailing, dinner, and dessert with friends from 10am till 10pm. I had wanted to cut the day shorter than it did but in order to keep the company happy, I obliged to the long day. When I got home, I stayed away from my phone, laptop, and all forms of human interaction, heaved a great sigh of relief and curled up on the couch with a book in hand to read. I promptly fell asleep shortly after, because I was so exhausted.

The strange thing is, I could ride 100 miles on my bicycle in a single day and that wouldn’t exhaust me as much. I suppose there’s something to be said about passive and active engagement. Perhaps I tire from passive engagement and come alive with active engagement. Well, this is worth exploring. I might write a separate post on this another day.

Now back to my current introversion. While I used to be surrounded by people and engaged in activities involving people all the time, these days I spend a large chunk of my time doing things by myself.  

This is how much of an introvert I’ve become: Today’s a Saturday. I went cycling in the morning, then hit the library. The library closes at 5pm, so I checked in to the office, possibly the only soul in the whole building, so I could watch TED talks, read and write.

In the past, an entire day of solitude would have made me very sad. But now I couldn’t be happier I get to do this.

What has this to do with Angie Across America, you ask?

This has everything to do with my life in America.

America is huge, widespread, and lonely. I had many close and good friends and family in Singapore and Malaysia. Don’t get me wrong, I do have friends in America, and wonderful people at that, but barely a few of whom I would consider close and dear. This has nothing to do with Americans - it has everything to do with timing.

You see, friendships you make in school, college and university have an irreversible value built into them - history. No amount of currency could buy history. History is what strengthens a friendship - you’ve shared many good, bad, funny, and sad times together during your most vulnerable phase in life - the growing up years. Friendships you develop as an adult in a foreign land are never quite the same. Culturally, there is a dissonance. Being a huge place like the Silicon Valley where I currently am, the lack of proximity to where you live, work and play pose a problem of getting together frequently. Also, as an adult, your worldview, perceptions of values and priorities are pretty much set in stone, so you are quick to accept or dismiss potential friendships in a single encounter.

To make matter worse, the older I become, the more selective I am of who I spend time with. I realized how important time is and that every minute spent on purposeless activities isn’t putting me on a path of growth. Purposeless activities like partying, drinking, chit chatting. To me, every conversation has to be purposeful.

Now consequently, this makes me very judgmental and critical. While I am not apologetic for being so, I sure hope I don’t close myself off to potentially valuable friendships - people whom I might hit off on a brilliant, common note and could possibly explore great ventures with.

I know I might offend with this honesty but I’d rather full truths rather than half-truths.  

Enjoying a moment of solitude in the semi-frozen and stillness of Lake Louise in Banff, Canada

Enjoying a moment of solitude in the semi-frozen and stillness of Lake Louise in Banff, Canada

What are your thoughts on introverts versus extroverts, friendships formed in teenhood versus adulthood and my perception on friendship? Feel free to comment below.