Why it’s Hard to Make Friends as an Adult is the Same Reason Why It’s Hard to Build Your Business (and a Lesson from Harry Potter to Illustrate)

Erin Monahan
6 min readNov 28, 2021

I’ve been trying to make new friends since I moved back to so-called St. Louis after living in so-called Portland, Oregon for most of my twenties. And it’s been exhausting and rough. We all know by now that making friends as an adult is so much harder than as a kid.

Why is this? Well, when we’re kids we usually have shared experiences that bond us whether that’s seeing each other daily at school or maybe we participated in track, cheerleading, debate team, improv club, or theater together. I did all of these, but improv and theater stuck and were the most fun.

Now, as adults we have to go out into the world and intentionally reach out to folks.

Wait, Erin, do you mean, make ourselves vulnerable? Yeah, yeah I do. It means we have to risk rejection and move through the fears of feeling stupid, or risk feeling “needy” or “desperate” when we make a bid for connection.

It’s hard as an adult because we’re dealing with a lifetime of unresolved trauma. It’s not that you’re defunct. It’s that as an adult there’s MORE to process. There’s more experiences of trauma that can resurface when triggered.

At this point in our lives we also probably have a deeper understanding of what’s going on in the world. As children we probably didn’t have a heightened awareness of climate chaos and just how deeply and pervasively white supremacist patriarchy and capitalism are fucking up our lives.

Throw in a pandemic and this is another collective trauma that can contribute to us being in constant flight or fight.

It would be easy to feel overwhelmed and like “what’s the point” when it comes to cultivating a new friend group. This also applies to the goal of building your business.

This is all pointing to the way white supremacy creates the conditions for us to feel isolated and like we’re the only ones going through what we’re going through. White supremacy thrives off individualism.

So, the antidote then is to connect. But as we just discussed, connection can feel threatening when our lived experiences as children taught us to stay small, keep to ourselves, and not reach out or express our needs and desires — all of these learned behaviors maintained our survival.

Erin Monahan

Trauma-Informed Mindset Coach. Host of OFF THE DEEP END podcast. Founder of Terra Incognita Media. Guide at Vesta Business School. Writer + Speaker.