Have you ever taken a class on how to make friends? I have.
I know, I know. It sounds lame. And it kind of is. We all make fun of it while we’re sitting in group, talking about how to broaden our social life. Really? We need to be taught this?
I look at my daughter and I am amazed. Kids don’t need to be taught how make friends. They walk up to each other on the playground or at the pool and just say, “Hi.” Then they start making up games and laughing together. It seems that friendship comes to humans naturally. It’s effortless for a kid.
So what happens? What changes the chemistry of friendship somewhere along our journey to adulthood?
I don’t have many friends. I don’t know how or where to meet people. I think I don’t have time to devote to a quality friendship. I feel like I don’t belong with the “young adults” because I have a child. And I don’t belong with the “young families” because I don’t have a husband. I don’t fit in any of the buckets.
Not only am I lonely, but I feel alone in my loneliness. If that makes any sense.
But it seems that I’m not as alone as I thought. Many adults express difficulty in establishing new friendships. We feel like we don’t fit in any of the buckets. We see our differences as barriers to our social lives rather than unique qualities that would enrich a relationship.
But we were created to live in community. Bad things happen when we think we’re alone.
The reality is that there are probably more people sitting alone outside of the buckets than there are those who fit the cookie-cutter bucket requirements. Which makes me wonder…why not make our own buckets?
Oh, if only it was that easy.
This “friend-making group” is interesting. When we talk about how to start a conversation or kindle a relationship, most people talk about how awkward it is. How weird we would feel trying to reach out to a stranger to meet up for coffee or go to a concert. “No,” we say. “That is far too uncomfortable. People would think I’m a weirdo.”
About a week ago, I came to group very excited. “This girl at work invited me to lunch! She said we seem to be about the same age and she thought we could be friends. I’m so excited!”
The room came alive as everyone started talking about how much we love people like that. People who reach out socially and make you feel wanted. They extend a hand of friendship to a stranger. People like that are awesome. We like them before we even know them.
It made me think. Why do we think that if WE reach out to a stranger, we’re a weirdo…but if THEY reach out to a stranger, they’re one of the coolest people we’ve ever met?
Why not create my own bucket? There will always be a reason not to. Whether we’ve been burned before or have an insanely busy schedule. Whether we’re shy or lack transportation. Whether we’re on a tight budget or just plain think we have nothing to offer.
We can always make an excuse to stay lonely. But we desire more. Otherwise it wouldn’t bother us so much.
So why not be one of those people?