In this episode, we discuss our experiences in making friends and how the process evolves from being at school to university and beyond. We start at primary school and examine how our tactics for making friends changed over time. We lament the difficulty of making friends and of showing vulnerability, and we realise that Taimur was always desperate to be cool while Ali was just always really weird…

Some of the more general highlights from our discussion:

When we’re younger shared interests and proximity seem to have a greater relevance for making friends. Whilst at primary school, we tend to form friendships with those around us in class or who have similar hobbies to our own. As we grow up, we all begin to search for sources of identity and in secondary school it seems that the most ‘revered’ source of identity at that point is to be ‘cool’. Popularity then becomes the most obvious source of identity and then people try to strive for that.

Making your room the social hub helps to bring people together. Having an open door policy can be really beneficial for encouraging interaction and fostering better friendships. Ali talks about how his room became a social hub at university for his friends – in fact, you can read more about the £5 purchase that he says accounts for this development here.

Although sending mass invites can be nice in terms of sociability it can be more appropriate at times to be more focussed and deliberate with your messaging. In trying to become more sociable, Ali overcorrected on the invite ‘everyone to everything’. He reflects that he would have made closer friends if he had been more directed about asking people to go out for dinner for example. In essence, making a deliberate effort can be really valuable for closer, more long-term friendships.

It’s often necessary to take the initiative and be deliberate. Whilst everyone is nice and polite, we all live in this world, especially in the UK, where the default is to avoid asking for fear of being a nuisance. However, other people are probably experiencing the same feelings and so taking the initiative and being the one to initiate a conversation should be an approach we all try to use more regularly.


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What is this? Not Overthinking is a podcast about happiness, creativity, and the human condition. We talk about things to help us think, do, and be better. Things like social interaction, lifestyle design, mental models...things that are hard to examine, but important to explore. And hopefully, things that make for a fun and interesting chat every week.


Follow Not Overthinking on Twitter: https://twitter.com/noverthinking.

Who are we?

Ali is a junior doctor and YouTuber working in Cambridge, UK. He makes videos about medicine, technology, productivity and lifestyle design. His links: YouTube, Blog, Newsletter, Instagram

Taimur is a data scientist and writer, working on his own startup Causal. He writes on his blog and as a columnist for Medium. His links: Blog, Twitter, Medium, Instagram