Making friends as an adult can be challenging. Especially if, like me, you’re the celestial ruler of Tartarus, the abode of the damned. I spent so much time in my late centennials and early chiliads focused solely on my career—working my way steadily down the ladder into the frigid ninth circle of Hell—that I never left myself time to develop meaningful relationships. After burning my way through a myriad of self-help books (I don’t think there’s a resident of the Underworld who hasn’t read How to Win Friends and Influence People), I decided to embark upon my own hero’s journey to discover lasting adult friendships. The insights I gained along the way should be helpful, whether you’re an adult looking to make friends or an immortal deity charged with ruling the domain of the damned. And contrary to the inscription on the gates of Hell, do not abandon any hope yet! There are still friends to be made, if you heed my advice.
Prioritize making friends
We all know life gets busier in adulthood. As a chronic workaholic desperate to prove that I was as ruthless and unforgiving as mythology suggested, I never made time to really get to know people. Even now, operating at the C-Suite level (the C standing for “chaos,” of course), I find I’m still incredibly busy, and I’m still discovering new aspects of my personality (I’m a glutton for gardening—who knew!). I found it necessary to prioritize making friends—even if it was at the expense of my work productivity or the amount of time I could dedicate to my relationship (keeping Persephone trapped in Hell is a full-time job too!). If you want to make friends, you have to own it.
Step out of your comfort zone
As we enter adulthood, it can feel like there just aren’t as many people hanging around the Garden of Eden waiting to be tempted by a forbidden apple as there used to be. Don’t be afraid to make the first move to connect with people who share your interests. (Did someone say “mimosas and watching Sisyphus perpetually roll a boulder up a hill in the depths of the netherworld”?) Maybe suggest grabbing a coffee, or even try hosting a dinner at your place—just be sure to tidy up first. I’ve found the anguished screams of the uncommitted can really put a damper on a party, no matter how ambrosial the food is. If you’re not comfortable with inviting people into your home, I’ve found suggesting meeting up at the dog park with Cerberus and me to be a great conversation starter—everyone loves dogs! Even the vicious, multi-headed ones charged with guarding the gates of Hell. They’re ugly-cute, like Frenchies.
Deepen your casual connections
This can be tough, especially if the last time you tried getting closer to the people in your life was inside your Titan father’s esophagus after he ate you and your siblings as infants. Understandably, you might feel a little hesitant, but you have to move on. He did regurgitate you after all. Ask yourself, “Who are the valuable people in my social network?” It could be a friend, a co-worker, a distant relative—just make sure to play it safe with that last one. I found my cousin Medusa to be a real snake. Try scheduling a hangout with that co-worker you always joke with at the office. For me, Charon always seemed up for a laugh whenever he ferried me across the river Styx from the world of the living to the world of the dead. Just don’t let your friendship interfere with your work, lest some pesky demigods slip into your domain undetected and instigate an uproar among your dead charges; it’s an HR nightmare, trust me.
Know when to let go
We aren’t meant to maintain every relationship we make. Whether we’re moving, growing up, or just changing in general, sometimes we lose connections, and that’s okay! When we first met, the Furies and I were inseparable. While we eventually grew apart (they constantly wanted to ascend to earth and relentlessly pursue the wicked, while I was more interested in enjoying a quiet night in), that doesn’t detract from the relationship we had, the experiences we shared, or the blasphemy we committed together. Allow yourself to move forward, even if that means moving away from those you love. (I already know people are going to be like, “Well, isn’t it time to let Persephone go, then? You have nothing in common and she hates you.” This is completely beside the point. What, just because I lured her in with a narcissus flower then absconded with her to the Underworld on a chariot drawn by deathless horses, our love isn’t real? You’re reaching.)
In the end, while I found that making friends as a centuries-old adult was tough, it was also incredibly rewarding, and I learned a lot about myself along the way. Ultimately, it all paid off, as I was able to find my people at Lollapalooza during a global pandemic. And you’ll find your own people too, if you just take a chance, stay true to yourself, and don’t take anything too seriously, as one day the deity of death will claim us all!