I’ve always had a hard time making “real-life” friends. It is, I think, partly why I like books so much.
Like a friend, a book can leave you frustrated, annoyed, or disappointed. It can change your life for the better or for the worse. But you can always walk away from a book without leaving a piece of yourself behind.
People, on the other hand, friend-type people especially, get under your skin, into your life, tangled up in who you are. You can’t walk away from people without a little tearing in your soul.
So when, as a kid, I realized my little soul was in tatters, I just stopped letting those unreliable people in–those soul-tearing, friend-type people. I closed the door, hunched in the corner, and worked to patch myself back up.
But I realized I didn’t have the tools for a patch job, there in the dark corner by myself.
Then a few friends crept in and showed me that I’m missing something there in the dark with my light starved soul. They brought in the light of laughter, encouragement, and accountability.
And I discovered that anything worthwhile is worth the risk. There’s beauty in there somewhere.
Now I’m not an expert, and I certainly don’t have a friend list a mile long, but I’m learning. I’m learning.
I’ve learned that friendships takes time.
When we’re kids, we spend nearly eight hours a day at school together, and then hang out again after school or over the weekends. Most adults I know don’t spend all day with their besties, and have a few more responsibilities over the weekend than your average kid. So it takes more time and being purposefully creative, which brings me to . . .
I’ve learned that sometimes I have to ask people in.
Most women I know have almost as much trouble as I do stepping into adult friendships. We all see potential friends wherever we go. But we fail to take the next step. I’ve discovered that if I’m willing to invite them in, they’re normally thrilled to come. Coffee, a workout, book club, play date, … I even have a group of friends that all meet and work/write together. What it is will look different for everyone, just be willing to ask.
I’ve learned there are seasons.
My life looks nothing like it did six years ago when I had an infant, and another six years from now, my life with two teens will look different than my present. Life changes. Friendships change. People move. Stuff happens. You have to be flexible. If your friend just had a baby, a crisis, or started a new job, your friendship will look different for a time. But you’re still friends. Just find new ways to connect for awhile–texts, cards, quick lunch, etc. And, by the way, your adult friendship is NOT going to look like an episode of Friends. Just saying.
I’m still learning, so I’d love to know what have you learned over the years about friendships? What secrets do you have for making or keeping friends?