I’ve often felt as if I didn’t have many close friends. When I was younger, I was considerably more reserved, and I would observe more outgoing children experiencing what I viewed as friendships built out of steel; indestructible, heartwarming and always encouraging. And of course, I was always envious. My family moved many times, and I went to one school for no more than one or two grades at most. I never built any lasting friendships through these many moves, and in fact, it became quite draining to always be “the new kid.” I went to high school with kids who had been friends since they were born, playing together all through grade-school, and bonding through adolescence. I, on the other hand, was an only child; eternally dubbed “the new kid.” I left for college on my own; starting over in a new state with only a few friends to visit on the holidays, eventually fading out of each others’ lives, as the burden of distance became a ghost and we no longer thought of each other much.
I do realize now that you cannot judge a book by it’s cover — the relationships I observed other people having may not have been all sunshine and rainbows, as I had convinced myself they were. However, I do not let that stop be from contemplating my own state of affairs. Why don’t I have more friends? What am I doing wrong? Why does my mind see it this way? Is my perception skewed?
While I have not often felt that I have had a plethora of BFFs to escort me through life’s Thelma and Louise moments, I have people in my life that I feel eternally bonded to and I do value them immensely. I may struggle, at times, to show it, however, more and more I am learning to nurture these friendships, and to really love the people that add vibrancy to my life. I’m finding out that my expectations — for myself and for others — may not exactly have always been realistic.
The year 2015 was a new beginning for me. Working through the dissolution of my marriage put me in a confused place in life. I lost relationships that I thought were strong, and others grew stronger as I learned to be vulnerable and trust. I was alone in life, starting over – no family, a few friends, truly on my own for the first time in many years. It was (and at times, still is) terrifying.
With my new life came the enormous task of reinventing myself — trying new things, meeting new people, discovering myself. And of course, with that, came the opportunity to form new friendships. This time I was going to do it right. I was determined not to take people for granted; I wanted to actually have those friendships that I saw the other kids having when I was young.
What I found was that I was trying so desperately to force friendships. I thought the going was tough because of my mental state; that if only I tried harder, I would be close to people. But that’s not how it works. Over time, I met one person, then another, who I instantly clicked with. Others remained casual friendships, and yet others faded away entirely. My eyes began to open to a whole new world of friendship building. It was okay to allow things to unfold organically. It became comfortable for me to finally relax. You can’t force relationships, rather, there is a spark — that moment you realize that you just feel comfortable with someone; trusting them, sharing, being vulnerable without trying so hard; without forcing it.
What a revelation!
A few days ago I was having an emotional discussion with a new friend … and suddenly, without much thought, I asked her if I could call her whenever I needed to talk about this difficult thing. It happened so organically. Was this how friendships were supposed to unfold? Had I been trying too hard this whole time? Had I been doing it wrong?!?! I could hardly believe how comfortable I felt more-or-less asking someone to be my friend — my close friend. And she was happy to reciprocate. What joy! What spark! How good it feels to make a strong connection!
Today, my new, reinvented self, knows that I will have people in my life that I don’t connect with on the deepest level — and that’s okay. It’s okay to still appreciate them and to enjoy their company, and it is certainly not anything to stress over. The right people will find me at the right time, and the most profound relationships will unfold organically without any expectation. That spark will find me when the timing is right, when all is appropriate, when I need it the most. We, as humans, don’t need to force connections with one another, but we must be honest, nurture our own hearts and beings and allow people to flow in and out of our lives, appreciating one another, appreciating each moment. Appreciating that spark.
And for each one of you that is connected to me somehow (whether we spend days together at a time, or even if we’ve connected via internet but only once), if I have failed to show it clearly, know that I appreciate every moment of our connection.