WTF? (relax – it means “where’re the friends”!)
I have always liked people. I was friendly with everyone in elementary school and had one close/best friend. It seemed so easy when we were young! In middle school my friendships changed, but I still had one close friend and a lot of other superficial friendships. The middle school years were not completely smooth sailing for me and I made some bad choices. Then I went from one long-term relationship to another one, and neither one of them went to my school, so I wasn’t very involved in school activities. This all led to me having a lot of acquaintances and very few actual friends. As I entered adulthood and started working I had the same pattern – one close friend, friendly with everyone else. I then got married and we were busy raising kids and neither one of us really had friends outside of work, with the exception of a few friends that my husband stays in occasional, superficial contact with. I of course have one close friend and several acquaintances – shocking, right? I think that part of my personality makeup is such that this is what works best for me. Scratch that – not best, easiest. Because if it was what is best, I don’t think I would have this constant feeling of missing out.
Is it me?
Back in my middle school days, there was a period where I was bullied by a group of girls. And then I ended up in group therapy with one of them. That was fun! Okay, not so much at the time, but there was something she said that has stuck with me. When asked to describe me, she said I was stuck up and thought I was better than everyone. What?! Me?? No, no, no, that’s not right at all! I was worried that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, enough. I had no idea that my insecurities were coming across that way. This revelation really didn’t make a huge impact on me then, but I have thought of it off and on since then. I consider myself to be very friendly and like-able (sorry if this hyphenation troubles any of you; it was one of the auto correct options. Apparently “likable” is the right spelling, but I see it as “lickable” and don’t like it), but maybe that’s not the case. I feel like I can talk to anyone one-on-one, especially if they initiate the conversation. It’s the moving beyond the initial convo that gives me trouble.
It’s not just me!
I started looking into this a little more, because honestly, I felt like I was just out of luck. I have told myself for years that 30-somethings and now 40-somethings already have their circle of friends and that is just that. But maybe it isn’t. See, I love social media, especially Facebook. It’s a great way to connect with all of those acquaintances that I haven’t spoken to in years, stay in touch with family, and get the word out about my business. But it can also be a source of discontent. Seeing pics of groups of friends from high school or college reuniting and having a blast is great, but makes me sad that I don’t have that. And it can give you a false sense of friendship and intimacy. I read an article about friendship in Live Happy magazine that says since I have a close friend I’m in good shape. And I agree to a certain extent. I am incredibly grateful for my best friend. She knows me and all of my crazy moodiness and quirks and loves me anyway. It’s not that I want twelve people that I could call in the middle of the night, but just having a few people close enough that I could call (not message via some app, actually have their number and call them) and see about going to a movie or dinner or just hanging out – that’s what I want. And I guess I’m not alone – there is a website called GirlFriendCircles.com that is geared toward “introducing women, inspiring friendship.” There is a cost to join, and I’m not convinced I need to take this step just yet, but it’s nice to know that there are other women facing the same issues. I just downloaded the free report, “Ten Ways to Meet New People” and I’m happy to say I’ve been doing a couple of them lately!
Stepping outside my comfort zone
Remembering that I have come across as snobby and standoffish in the past, I knew I needed to do something. What if there are women out there thinking the same things I am thinking? Women who would love to have someone to chat with and connect with? People who know me well would probably be surprised by most of this. I love to talk (sometimes too much) and love to be around people. But I have come to the conclusion that I am an introverted extrovert, which I think is explained incredibly well here. I recently realized how much the part about being social but then needing alone time is totally me. I had a great extended lunch with a friend and we talked and talked but the next day I was much more withdrawn at home, and even on edge when there was too much stimulation.
I have know that there was this void for a while. It’s painfully clear to me at church, where we have attended for seventeen years. It’s a big church. And probably ten people (maybe) know me by name. That’s sad and ridiculous and completely my fault. So I have decided to be bold (well, bold for me). Here are a couple of things that I have done in the past couple of weeks to get more comfortable meeting new people.
- I introduced myself to someone from church at Target. This is one of those people that everyone knows (she happens to have beautiful hair that is just “her”) and so I feel like I know her, but I don’t. So I walked by her and then I turned around and walked back and said something along the lines of, “You don’t know me but I go to X Church and I just wanted to introduce myself.” I think then I rambled on a bit, and then we chatted and she was incredibly sweet and it was a little awkward but I did it. And I didn’t die or do anything really embarrassing, so that’s something.
- I asked someone out for coffee via Messenger. Again, someone that I know from church and know who she and her husband are, but they don’t know me. She actually initiated the conversation in response to a post I had made and it seemed like we had some things in common, so I asked if she’d like to get together for coffee sometime. As I typed the question to her, my finger paused before I hit send. When I finally poked the screen, I just sat there for a minute staring at it, thinking how glad I was that I never really dated. That simple little coffee request was stressful!! And then she said sure and we met for coffee this week and it was fun. I don’t know if we will ever meet up again. What I do know is that there wouldn’t have been any hope of a friendship starting without my tiny bit of courage.
- I am going to a networking event next week. Again I am stepping outside my comfort zone, but I am having faith that just on the other side is where the good stuff happens! Jim Rohn said, “For things to change, you have to change” and I believe that wholeheartedly. So little by little I’m trying to reach out and create the relationships I want without letting that negative voice in my head discourage me. We’ll see how it goes!
I’d love to know your thoughts on friendship! And please subscribe and share! I’m looking for new blog friends! 🙂