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You Only Need One Good Friend

Being young with chronic pain isn’t fair. It’s had a huge impact on my future, and I’ve already dealt with issues my peers won’t deal with for years. But for me, the worst part of being a young adult with arthritis is the impact it’s had on my social life. There are times where I find it hard to fit in with people my age.

The impact of PsA on friendships

Being chronically ill, I had to mature faster than my peers. Sure, I might like the same TV shows and books. But I don’t seem to value the same things my peers do. I don’t need to have big adventures with friends or hang out all the time, simply because I can’t do that a lot. I value deep conversations, gestures of care such as phone calls or cards, and just being content in one another’s presence.

Since I was a teen and still as a young adult, I’ve struggled to keep friends. Friends moved on when I couldn’t hang out often, or when I wasn’t interested in the highly physical plans they made (Ice skating? No thank you). Because we’re connected all the time on our phones, they didn’t understand when I was just too tired to constantly have text conversations. I just couldn’t keep up. And now I realize how it helped me find my true friends.

Finding friends

In some ways, I’m a little thankful for all the people who moved on from me. While it was very lonely at times, it did show me who my real friends are. But it’s so painful to learn when you’re young and want to fit in.

It’s only recently I started feeling confident in my few friends. I think young people feel so pressured to have a large group of friends. Social media constantly makes it seem that everyone else has tons of friends. It can make you feel insecure to only have a friend or two.

Even a few years ago, all I wanted to have was to have a big, tight-knit group who did everything together. But I know now that most people are lucky to have one or two good friends. I am so thankful for the few friends I have who stayed with me through the arthritis flares and relapses. It might’ve taken years to find them, but they were well worth it.

My online friends

Oddly enough, there is no better time to be young with arthritis. Thanks to the internet, we are not isolated. Twenty years ago, some of us might have support groups and know one other young person with a similar disease. But today, it’s so easy to join a support group and talk to people all over the world “who get it.”

My online friends are just as important to me as my friends who I met in person. While I wish we didn’t have to be behind screens, it doesn’t make our friendships any less valid. It is amazing to have the support of others who “get it.” Knowing there are other young people with similar experiences is so encouraging.

Evolving friendships

It can be so hard to make friends when you’re young and already dealing with chronic pain. It’s not fair. I can’t promise it will be easy or that there won’t be lonely times. But I will promise you this: your definition of friendship will evolve, and you will learn who your true friends are.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.