Is it just me, or does it seem like making friends used to be easier?
The other afternoon I was standing in my front yard enjoying the fall colors, smells and cool temps when my state of autumn nirvana was interrupted by the sound of little neighbor boys barreling down the street. I found myself mesmorized by their innocence and just watched them for a bit. When they stopped at another neighbor’s house I overheard the following take place:
“Hey, can you come out and play?”
Soon, another young boy ran out of the house, out with the other boys and they all began bouncing around a basketball, fighting over which college basketball team was better than the other. What I noticed the most was how comfortable they seemed. You could tell they were of varying ages but it didn’t matter. Each one had a place and they belonged.
I remember being that age and having a similar experience with my girlfriends. Granted, we were playing “house,” “school” or some variation of “pretend” … but I remember how comfortable it was. There was always someone to play with and all it took was a couple knocks on the door and one simple question, “can you come out and play?”
But why and what point did all this get so difficult?
I moved away in middle school, leaving my childhood friends behind. And from then on, it seemed I never fit in. I even had a friend in high school go as far as to say that I was holding her back from her own popularity potential … and that was the end of our friendship. She became cheerleading captain, and I spent most days in a darkroom developing pictures for yearbook or in a practice room for vocal competitions.
In recent years, I’ve come into my own a bit more, but this idea of being popular or not, or liked or not, or valued or not has followed me into adulthood. Often times I just feel defective. Always taking the bump along the way onto myself—reverting back to a shy, self-conscious high school girl—just waiting to be crushed under the wheel again. And I have no doubt that this fear holds me back from truly genuine, and life-giving friendships and possibly contributed to the downfall of a couple of my closest friendships (or so is the belief of my Life Coach).
Some of you reading this will have no clue how to relate to this struggle. Making and keeping friends has always come easily to you… and that’s awesome. But I wonder how many other women (and men) struggle with making and keeping friendships (out of fear, anxiety or some variation). How many of us have been hurt enough times that it almost seems easier now to just fly solo?
In processing a lot of this, I am realizing just how hungry I am for a real community of friends. I am truly lonely. Granted, I love the friends the internet has brought me. In fact, I am indebted to them. And my friends who have moved away (it sucks when friends move away, can I just say that?)—I love having the technology that makes it possible to stay connected. And the friends I do have close by are wonderful.
But my heart is craving more.
My heart is craving genuine live community—a real group of girlfriends to laugh with, cry with and hug and commune with. It has been a while since I’ve felt this way, and to be honest with you… I am scared. I am scared of what it will mean to expose my heart again—of what it will mean to open up again—of what it will mean to risk being hurt again.
CS Lewis says, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
I am sure good old Lewis is right about this. But I struggle with trusting that this is truly out there for me.
I know this a pretty vulnerable post from me today. Definitely not what I truly intended on writing. So, feel free to break the tension a bit by commenting with a joke or something. Ha!