Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Making Friends

I'm shy, and I've been hurt by "friends" deep in my past, so I've spent more years than I should've without close friends outside my family. I feel like I've come out of my shell in the last couple years, and I'm grateful for the results. It seems like making friends is expected to come naturally to people sometimes, but I can attest to the fact that there are those of us for whom it is very difficult. In case you're as out of practice as I was at meeting people and forming connections, here are some of the ways I broke out of my lonely rut:

- I joined a couple groups that I was interested in (whether or not I made friends). For me, it meant beginning to attend a class at my church beyond just the main service and, more recently, joining a writing critique group. This was daunting for me, but I went. I hung out at the back and on the sidelines until I had a pulse for the group.

- I've started saying hello to people I see regularly, even if they're strangers. When I take my dog walking, I regularly pass a woman who sits on her porch half a mile away. I've started saying hello. Even my walks are less lonely!

- I prey on the weak - in the best way possible. Once I'm not the newest person in the room, there's immediately someone I can be pretty sure feels more uncomfortable than I do. They tend to be grateful for someone to greet them, and I'm getting better at ignoring my silly insecurities and going to do it.

- Once I got acclimated to a group, I started making an occasional extra comment to a person I wanted to get to know. Often, they picked it up and traded a comment back. What do you know? I'm capable of conversation, and I'm getting better and better at it.

- I started pouncing on shared interests. Once I'm in a conversation with someone who's fun to be around, I've gotten much better about extending invitations. "Oh, you love sushi? I've been meaning to try that! Want to go after class next week?"

- I've started volunteering to do stuff for people/the group. I've gotten to know my neighbor this way. I've gotten to know other writers this way. Even if you don't hit it off, you have the reward of knowing you did something good.

For some, I realize this process is a no-brainer. You are blessed! For me, it's been a learning process. If it is for you, I hope this helps point you in the right direction.

How did you meet your best friends?

Your Sister

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