Friend– definition: that lovely person who listens to your ridiculous, overly detailed stories, whose lip quivers when you cry, who shows up at your house unannounced, and who doesn’t ask before opening your refrigerator.
So often, I hear people talking about how difficult it is to make new friends. I agree. But I also disagree. It is hard, because all things worthwhile are hard, however, with a bit of work and practice, I am certain you can have a little posse of friends in a month. Friendship is important at every stage of life, and there is always an opportunity to make a few, no matter how busy, shy or introverted you may be.
I think a common error among adults is that friendship “just happens”. You wait for friends to appear out of the dust, and when they don’t, you feel bummed and lonely. Some of my closest friends actually appeared because I was a creeper and asked for their friendship. It all started in third grade. I was a shy, exceptionally awkward kid who buried my face in my arms when my teacher asked a question. During the first few weeks of school, I kept noticing a classmate who had kind eyes and smiled at anyone who looked at her. One day I asked her to stay after school so we could talk. I nervously sidled toward her, and with a trembling voice I asked, “Do you think we could be friends?” That was that. For the next three years, we spent afternoons riding our bikes to Loaf N Jug to buy candy, building blanket forts, reading books next to one another, and I learned all about her Jewish lifestyle and traditions. (And then we went to different schools and lost touch. Tear.) 😦
Since Matt and I have been vagabonds for the past nine years, it has served me well to have this “I need to go make a new friend” mentality. (Except in Southern California, where I was too tired and pregnant to make friends- for the mere six months we lived there.)
Where do you like to be? A coffee shop? The park with your kids? I can guess that your future friends like to be there too. Next time you’re there, have a look around. If you see someone and think, “there’s my bosom buddy!”, don’t think. Just walk right up and talk. I know this is SO SO uncomfortable. Trust me, I know. I am the queen of awkward. However, if your friendar (friend radar) was malfunctioning and she shuns you, shake it off and find another. Look for friends who are in your same stage of life (have kids, single, working, etc), friends who seem interesting or different than you, and also a friend who is older and wiser than you, who can shed light on your current life stage. You might also look for a friend who is younger than you, with whom you can share your own wisdom and love.
Most of my closest friends in Charlotte (our current and hopefully permanent city) are products of my unabashed friend making skills. Here are two examples of how this looked in real life…
1.) Katie- my encouraging, cries with me, laughs
with at me, throws a party for every occasion, sweet AMAZING friend. I met Katie at church, where she cheerily wrote her number on a piece of paper and told me to call her if we needed restaurant recommendations in Charlotte. I mean, seriously? She was an easy pick. After a rough first month, feeling out of place and shy, I finally grew my balls back and texted her. Not for a restaurant recommendation, but to join me for coffee. Guess what? Instead, she invited us over for supper. Winner. I loved her immediately. We are at completely different life stages, but we have so much in common that it doesn’t matter.
2.) Carlie- my shy, generous, always has an open door, tells it how it is, sweet INCREDIBLE friend. I did not meet Carlie. I pounced on her. In the midst of my weird, “I feel out of place in my own skin” period, I saw Carlie at a women’s Bible study. I was desperately craving friendship with other women who did not live in another state. (Side note: I feel too old to be a girl, and too young to be a woman. What am I?? How about a “wirl”? Done.) She was dropping her son off in the room where I was volunteering for the day, and I heard her say, “we just moved here from Texas.” That’s all I needed. Too enthusiastically, I bounced over and said, “we just moved here, TOO!!! We should hang out!!” She gave me her phone number and the rest is history.
Lastly, don’t forget the old Girl Scout adage, “make new friends but keep the old.” Whether you live near or far from the circle of friends you’ve always known, don’t leave them behind. Some of my dearest friends are from grade school. Though the five of us live all over the country, we keep in touch by group texts and a private Instagram account that we post photos to- both of days gone by, and new photos of our kids. It’s seriously fun. You should steal the idea and start it with your own childhood friends.
Are you ready to go make a new friend!?? I’m so excited for you. If you feel scared, just realize that it is impossible to be more awkward than me. If I can do it, I promise you can do it. Don’t forget to tell me about your new friends!!