Who knew that making friends as an adult would be so hard? The older I get, the harder it gets. I have mentioned many times that I have had an amazing tribe of friends throughout my life. Many have come and gone and some remain for life. Moving has been the reason that I have lost and gained so many friends throughout my lifetime. I lost touch with my childhood friends after my family moved to a new state before my freshman year of high school. I lost my high school friends after moving away to college. I lost my college friends after moving away after graduation and getting married, and I have lost touch with friend after friend as my family has moved due to the military. Yes, I have my main group of friends that will always be my friends and know we will never loose touch, but it will never be the same as living near them and seeing them all the time. Unfortunately, that is just the harsh reality of distance. It really sucks, but it is true. It’s just not the same. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for each of those moves because it brought all of these different people into my life and each one of them has left an imprint on my heart. It is just so hard to say goodbye. We always have intentions of visiting each other and making it a point to connect, but it always fades after a while. Life gets in the way. New things take priority. It just happens despite the best intentions. It does sadden me to think about all of the people who once meant so much to me, and now I barely know them. I only know of them what they post on social media and that is just a snapshot of their lives.
Now I find myself almost a year into our latest move starting all over again. Each time gets harder and harder. My husband always says that it takes me about two years to really connect with someone each time we move. Part of that is because I am an introvert. I get really uncomfortable in social situations where I don’t really know anyone. I tend to sit back and quietly observe. That is comfortable for me. Interacting with strangers is not. It is a coping mechanism. It is painfully awkward for me to walk up to another person or a group of people that I barely know and strike up a conversation. Many people who have turned out to be some of my closest friends have told me that they thought I was “stuck up” (or another not so nice word) until they got to know me because I just keep to myself. I think another part of why it takes me so long to make friends is that I am guarded. I think I am guarding my heart from another loss. I am guarded because I don’t want to take anything away from my previous friendships by making new ones. I am guarded because I have been burned many times by people who I thought were my friends. It is almost like each time I have moved, I immediately put up this huge wall and it takes a while to chip away at it and for it to crumble. Maybe even another part of it is that I am tired of the effort. I am tired of starting all over again. I am tired of the game of making and loosing friends.
I know that according to my husband’s theory that I have another year, but it just feels different this time. I am struggling to connect with anyone at all. Yes, I have met lots of people through my children’s sports, but I just haven’t really clicked with anyone yet. All of this came to my mind this past weekend when I was at my daughter’s team banquet. We walked into the place where it was being held and my daughter immediately took off and met up with her friends leaving me there alone. It was the most awkward and uncomfortable feeling to be standing there with no idea what to do, where to sit, or who to even talk to. I walked up to a few groups of people that I knew or had met before and totally felt like I was intruding and that I didn’t belong, so I quickly excused myself. I ended up just wandering around by myself looking like a lost puppy for about 30 minutes before it was time to actually sit down and begin the event. At that point, there were of course no seats near anyone that I knew, so I ended up at a table full of complete strangers for the night. Yes, we made small talk and we were all polite, but it was so uncomfortable for me. I think I texted my husband like 10 times telling him how awkward it was and how miserable I felt. There was one person that I knew that did make an effort to talk to me several times throughout the night and tried to include me, and I am extremely grateful for that. Overall, though, it was a very uncomfortable night for me.
As I sat there at the table eating my dinner in silence that night, I started thinking about how hard it is to fit in at my age. I thought that making new friends in a new school in a new state at the beginning of high school was one of the toughest times in my life. That desire to fit in and to make friends is still the same now as an adult as it was all those years ago. Why is that? After knowing all the things I have learned over the years and all of the life experiences I have had (including things that were leaps and bounds harder than making friends), why do I still feel the need to fit in just like I did as a teen? I want so badly to connect with someone here, yet I constantly sabotage myself by being so introverted and guarded. People my age already have their core group of friends. They have been friends for years. It is hard to let someone new in. I know that my core group of 9 friends would be really hesitant to let someone new into the group. We have even joked before about other people we know wanting to push one of us into the ocean so they can take our place as the new member of the group. I have even kidded them about not replacing me when I moved away. It would be very hard for us to take in someone new to our group. We have a history together. Someone new would be an intruder. I totally get that, so I can’t expect others to bring me into their group here. I would be the intruder.
I know that I have to be patient. I know that I have to put myself out there. I know that I have to step outside my comfort zone and let the walls down. I know there is someone that God will place on my path that I will connect with eventually. I just haven’t found that person yet. I know it will come. It always does. Every single time I have moved (8 times) I have met some of the best people in the world that I am lucky enough to call friend. I know it will come again. I must be patient. Starting over is hard, but I know it will be worth it in the end when I have someone, or lots of someones, who capture a place in my heart. Patience!