Confession: when I first moved to the Tulsa area, I was extremely lonely. It was the first time in my life when I lived completely away from any friends, family, or social structure. And, as much as I loved my then fiancé now husband, he simply wasn’t enough. I needed friends, and socialization. Even just a little bit every week or two.
It took about 3 months before I found friends at church and connected with co-workers I was comfortable with. Now, I have a few friends and a great small group I am a part of. I have had the chance to connect with some amazing people, and there are two or three people I know I could text to meet for coffee and get out of my head and out of my house…
But, I’m also terrible at doing so, terrible at reaching out. I hate feeling like I’m imposing on someone’s life…
Remember when we were kids, though?
Making friends in childhood is easy…okay, maybe not always easy, but there’s definitely a lot more opportunity for it than in adulthood. As kids, we have built in social structures that pair us with peers, and we are encouraged to make friends with them.
Kids have: school, neighborhoods, kids’ clubs, church, play dates.
When I was in 5th grade, all I had to do was ask one of my now best friends, “Do you have an imagination?” and a friendship was born.
In college, I was the girl with a car & a friendly attitude & smile.
Right after college? God placed me in a very uncomfortable place to end up in the perfect cubical position next to one of my best friends.
But what about as adults, especially as we get older and life changes?
Have you ever noticed it takes significantly more effort to make genuine connections as adults?
We have co-workers, but often we don’t turn those into life-long confidants or best friends. So often, we don’t even connect with them outside of our work setting.
How many of us connect with and spend time with our neighbors? Even doing that takes energy and effort.
And, how about reaching out to someone at church or another parent at your child’s school?
Making genuine friends as adults takes effort, you put yourself out there, and hope to find a person or a group of people to which you can genuinely belong.
Then, there’s finding and making time to talk, connect, and spend time together.
This is difficult while we all have our own families to deal with, and we have jobs, and our kids have commitments.
It’s also difficult when we go through periods of time that feel extremely lonely, like early marriage, pregnancy, parenthood, losing a loved one, or any number of other life circumstances that can easily isolate us if we feel no one cares, understands, or has time for us.
And, if I may confess something, I often start out making more effort than the other person, because I understand my leaning towards complete isolation (hello, any extreme introverts out there…?) But, then, I grow weary, weary of trying to invest in a person who refuses to return investment, as a feeler & an introvert, it is just too exhausting and too disheartening.
I very rarely cease to ever be available to those people, I simply won’t put in more effort than them, and often just wait until they really need me or choose me again, but never give the same heart and energy as I did when I began.
I am learning about myself, if I’m going to take the steps God has placed in front of me, I’m going to have to be willing to put in the effort. I’m going to have to take risks. Get to know my neighbors, connect with local shop owners, wait staff, and baristas. Open myself up to continual rejection to show His love and build genuine connection. I am going to have to be willing to let people go through their seasons of acquaintanceship & friendship with me. I am going to have to have an open heart & mind. I am going to have to be a friend, at all times, to all.
I have learned this from many amazing women before me, so for the next year, I intend to reach back out to these women, learn from them, have coffee with them, and practice making genuine connections.
Because, if we’re honest, isn’t that something we all want?
Genuine friendships as adults?