I had friends. Does that sound strange?
Do most people just assume that people they know and like are friends? I have never assumed any such thing. Why should I?
As a small child I had very little opportunity to mix with other children. Certainly I never remember playing with anyone other than a child over the back fence - and that was only on the occasions my mother was childminding. I never went to play there.
My brother and I played in our backyard or rode our tricycles up and down the lane at the side. There were some huge concrete pipes there for a long time. We could stand upright in them and rode up and down them listening to the echoes bounce off the sides. The echoes were our companions.
When we moved and I started school I was definitely the odd one out. I read a lot. The other children could not yet read. I found friends in books. We kept on moving. I kept on reading. My mother did not allow us to invite children home to play or us to go to their homes (because that would mean inviting them back).
I never felt comfortable in anyone else's house. I was much too self conscious. I still feel that way. Perhaps you need to grow up going in and out of other houses to learn to feel comfortable about visiting other people. Does it help you grow less self conscious as well?
Even when I left school I did not believe I had friends. Circumstances were such that I did not have an opportunity to mix with my fellow teacher training students on a social basis.
I do not drive. I have never owned a car. That also limits social life style. You do not "hop in the car" and head off to socialise.
So friendships came slowly to me and they are still slightly awkward affairs. I envy those people who feel they can just 'phone someone and suggest they meet for coffee, go out to a film, drop in for a cup of tea etc. On the other hand when someone 'phoned and asked if I would like a ride to somewhere we both needed to be on a very hot Saturday afternoon I was perhaps unduly pleased. It was unexpected. I was pleased that someone should actually bother to think about me. I made very sure I said thankyou too. Yes, she has to be a friend. That is the sort of thing friends do - or I think it is.
I think it might be why I have not actively gone seeking "friends" and "followers" on the internet. I would rather people found me and thought "might be interesting". I follow others I think "might be interesting" - and most of them are very interesting. I think I might like them if I met them.
What I want to know though is when does liking someone you meet become friendship? When do they remain acquaintances? How in the heck do I know if I am welcome? There are no answers to any of that but I also wonder if other people feel the same way.
What I do know is that everyone needs a social support network.