Apparently, 1 in 3 people find it hard to make friends in Vancouver, leaving a quarter of us feeling lonely.
A recent survey by the Vancouver Foundation also found that our neighbourhood connections are cordial but weak, and that 35% of us have no close friends outside of our own ethnic group, with 65% believing that most people prefer to be with others of the same ethnicity.
Known disparagingly as the “Vancouver Complex,” I find myself conflicted with this notion.
Isn’t this a problem in any big city? Having lived in many cities all over the world, in my view Vancouverites are some of the friendliest people I’ve met.
However, friendliness and closeness can mean two very different things.
I’m ashamed to say that I have one close Canadian friend having lived here for three years but, in my defense, I put it down to a simple clashing of cultures.
You may have heard, but rumour has it that Irish people like to drink. Unfortunately, I don’t think Canadians realize just how much we like to drink until they start to socialize with us. 99% of occasions revolve around booze in one form or another. Take Canada Day for instance. It was like St. Patrick’s Day X 2.
From experience, this cultural propensity for carrying on the party long after everyone else has gone home tends to put some locals off.
So the sad truth of the matter is that sometimes it’s much easier to gel and make real connections with your own people, even if you speak the same language as that of your adopted country.
Take, for example, the problem connecting with neighbours that we will have all experienced at one time or another. Listen, we don’t want to be your best friend – okay, if you’re hip then maybe we do! – but would it hurt to strike up a conversation in the elevator or at the dog park? We strangers don’t bite!
I’m sure many people reading this can relate to the particular sense of isolation that comes with being surrounded by people, even in a big city, but isn’t it all our own fault?
Surely making lasting connections depends on the right set of circumstances, the right timing and your own openness to those around you?
So if you’re lonely, get out there. Make yourself talk to people, if only to those in the elevator, the gym (or the pub, whatever your preference may be!), and you’ll feel better for it.
Just don’t call me Shirley!