I have a friend problem. You wouldn’t think so since I have over 650 friends on Facebook, but I do. You see, on most days, I feel like I have no friends. On these days I can’t remember the last time someone called or emailed to check in on me. It feels like it has been months since someone said “I want to spend time with you, let’s meet up!” And so there, I have a friend problem.
When I say “friend” I am not talking about the people you accept on Facebook because you share a common bound through a special group. I am talking about those people who are intertwined with your life, the ones you think about sharing good or bad news with, the ones you can literally tell them anything and they don’t miss a beat and don’t run away, those who rally around you, who parent you when you don’t have a parent. I am talking about those people who you know will share with you just as much as you share with them, who encourage you and your children, who make you forget they are friends because they seem like family. I want the village. I see these types of friendships all around me…and I WANT SOME OF THAT! I’ve been a part of different groups and seen people all around make these connections, and I fall so flat. Could it be that I am not cool enough? Am I smelly? Annoying? Self centered? Could it be that because of social media, I share so much of who I am so that in real life, people don’t connect with me?
I have always thought I was alone in this, but recently I have found that I am not. I have opened up with a few women about my struggles and surprisingly, they struggle with the same. I never really thought others had the same issues of connecting and fitting in. It is not that we don’t have the opportunity to find people to do things with, between school, PTA, playgroups, Starbucks, libraries, parks, etc. There are plenty of places but the opportunity, motivation and uncomfortableness of reaching out, making real connections and diving into a true friendship is missing in many people’s life. I wonder if we are all just trying to fit into the wrong place? Or maybe we all think other people are too busy for us? Or we just find ourselves so involved with our own lives we forget to look outside of our bubble.
But let’s be honest…I am also not the greatest friend either. I love supporting others through tough times and daily life, but I don’t make friendships priority as much as I should. I find I put my children’s activities and family time in front of any time I might have to reach out to others. So it really feels hypocritical to say “I don’t have friends” when I really don’t nurture friendships in the first place. And so here I am…..I have a friend problem.
I decided that I wanted to do things different about the women in my life. I felt I was not using my time or energy in the right places and I was still holding back on who I was. I opened up, I changed my priorities when it came to time and energy and lost quite a big chunk of people I had been hanging out with. What it made me realize though is I was doing just that….hanging out, I wasn’t feeling nurtured and I wasn’t nurturing. This gave me more time to focus on seeking out those I wanted to spend time with and nurturing those friendships. I started by picking out a couple of women that I admired in some way and reached out to them. I had play dates with some, I had drinks with others, I chatted electronically with others, and most did not return any interest after the first few connections. It was like we were in the mommy dating scene and it is just a weird place to be but some have stuck. I am starting to find the people I really want to hang out with and keep in my life and it feels good.
So here I am about to celebrate my 39th year on this earth and I feel like I don’t have my stuff together enough to have friends. I am at a point in my life where looking back is not as exciting as looking forward. I don’t want to fill my life with things and events, I want to fill it with experiences and friends who get me, who love me, who rally for me, friends worth sharing life with. I want to be able to live to 80 or beyond and as I lay dying have friends rally around me who are cheering me on and sharing stories of all the memories we shared because really, making memories forever is really what life is about and I want to have friends, not problems.
At what times in your life have you felt this way? What do you think you could do to nurture the friendships in your life better? How do you think you could become closer to that friend you’ve always admired?