Work. Eat. Gym. Sleep.
These are the four components of my life – very typical and nothing out of the ordinary. Did you notice what was missing? Yes, you guessed it right – I don’t have any friends. My social life is almost non-existent in Karachi.
As I was sitting in my car after coming out of the gym, I noticed someone driving by. There were five friends and they looked as though they were having the time of their lives. They were all talking incredibly loudly and laughing – just as obnoxious as I get with my friends.
At that moment, I felt something tugging at my heart strings. I knew what it was. I missed the liberating feeling of driving around with my friends, laughing like maniacs, dancing like monkeys, and sharing our drama with each other.
It is a very isolating feeling living in a city where you still feel like an ajnabi without any friends or someone to pour out all your emotions to. But that’s the problem of moving around so much – you don’t have the time to develop close relationships. Even if you do, the distance factor kicks in again.
All of my close friends are scattered around the world now – Turkey, America, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar are just to name a few. The funny thing is, they are just as lonely as I am. Either everyone has moved away or they are adjusting to a new city.
Why has this become increasingly common in today’s world? I think it’s because of the transient nature of our lives. Every few months, we feel that itch to travel again or experience something new. We aren’t in the habit of staying rooted to one place and it starts making us less productive. To be ourselves again, we need to escape our reality – even if it’s just for a little while.
Now that I have been living in Karachi since a year, it is starting to feel more familiar to me. I have only seen 1/4 of the city so far, but I am gradually getting used to my surroundings.
But the down side is, it’s difficult to form relationships in this fast-paced city. Thanks to Facebook groups, I have connected with like-minded individuals and met them a few times. The funny thing is, we are constantly chatting on Whatsapp but have barely met two or three times. Surprisingly, I have yet to meet a few women on this group.
One of my high school friends lives here but I have only met her twice in the last year and a half. I think life has become more demanding than before for most people.
Struggling with jobs, finances, and the expenses that come with raising your children are on the rise. Juggling your time between work, in-laws, and family isn’t an easy task. That’s why it hardly leaves any room to have a decent social life.
Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on and talk to apart from their family members. The only choice I have now is to communicate with my friends who are living far away from me. But it’s not easy to always coordinate our timings and talk, especially if your friends are living in different time zones!
The hardest part is, at this point in life I am exhausted to start all over again. In school and university days, the dynamics were completely different. I would see my friends everyday and didn’t have to make an effort to meet or get to know them. But now I have to plan or see if my schedule matches with someone to meet them.
Not only that, I have to let them get to know me when I’m not even completely sure of myself. But the thing is, random chai meetings and messaging one another isn’t enough. It starts feeling artificial and forced, only because you need an outlet to meet someone outside of your family.
Sure, I have met like-minded individuals which has been great but it just doesn’t feel the same. Obviously nothing can compare to having my best friends around who understand me and can relate to my situations like nobody else. And most of all, there is absolutely no effort involved.
When I was living in Dubai for a year, I have never felt that isolated because I didn’t have any friends. To top it all off, the environment didn’t help because it was incredibly artificial.
Many people would move there to gain experience then move on with their lives. Meetings with people were mainly for a rational purpose, such as networking for a potential business opportunity. I used to call the city an airport because people were constantly on the move.
I believe that time shouldn’t exist in friendships – you shouldn’t have to constantly keep chasing someone to meet you because they have ‘no time’. It should feel effortless and allow you to actually look forward to meeting them that week.
The fact of the matter is – nobody can replace your close friends. The only feeling that I can hold on to is seeing them again someday and knowing that everything will be exactly the same. We would start off from where we left off and the years we spent apart will be irrelevant.
In the meantime, people who are going through a similar situation should just enjoy spontaneous meetings and trying new things that are out of your comfort zone. Even if you have a horrible time, take it as a learning experience and smile to yourself at the absurdity of life. Not everyone has the chance to live in different places and travel, which is why we should value our experiences. People will come and go, but what remains is who you are as a person.