Relationships are hard. They are draining. Taxing. Frustrating. Demanding. Comforting. Rewarding. Fun. Fulfilling. Endearing. Worth the effort.
Friendships, for an introvert like me, take a lot of work. Approaching someone I don’t know takes more effort than an extrovert will ever fathom. You see, I was not socialized as a child; My parents moved and changed our schools several times over the course of my childhood; We couldn’t afford extracurricular activities (for me, anyway. There was plenty of money for my sister though! Oops, that’s a blog for another time); My mom stayed home with us and she never had friends. Whatever the core reason, making friends has been a challenge.
My parents moved us from a blue collar neighborhood in a small town to an upper middle class house in a suburb when I was in grade school. I didn’t know how to relate to my new social class or my new neighborhood. I made only 1 real friend from 5th grade to 12th grade. Only 1 person that I felt “got me” and that wasn’t until high school. I finally made some friends in college—guys. I found girls to be much too competitive and image-oriented. Guys were laid back. They didn’t look you up and down, as if you were going to be their snack when no one was watching.
Then I went to work in Dallas--the meat market of America. I was never comfortable there. But I made friends with coworkers, and got out on the town. But I never really “fit in” because I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. I thought I was a freak. I didn’t know how to be fun and friendly. In hindsight, I was not more freakish than the next person. I was just very guarded. I met my husband because we worked for the same company. He had no more friends than I did. So we were a boring couple.
After I relocated to Tulsa (following my divorce), I finally made good friends. I began to work through my own personal issues. I began to see that making friends means taking the first step and not waiting on others to introduce themselves to me. It means accepting everyone else “as is” if I’m to be accepted “as is”. It means taking the chance I will be rejected. And yes, I have been snubbed by other females upon introducing myself. It’s a pain that goes to the bone. Luckily, it’s a fleeting pain.
Now that I’m older, it’s not the quantity of friendships I search for. I am a hermit by nature, and have found too many friends to be stressful. (isn’t that horrible? “Sorry, I don’t need any more friends. I already have 1.” Haha!) I search for quality of friendships. That’s the difference. I’d rather have 1 good friend than 10 shallow acquaintances.
And now, friendships are beautiful, but they are still work. They still require my cultivation. They require my attention. But the best friendships, the deepest friendships, don’t require constant tilling. They are the ones where you will not see or hear from each other for years. And when you do reconnect, there is no finger pointing of who failed to communicate with whom. It’s more of a rediscovery of a lost love. Like no error existed, and the love between the friends takes over.
I still struggle. I still need to learn to be more social. But I’m eons from where I was.