It's been difficult for me to make friends, and that's my own fault. I used to be a social butterfly, but as I got older--and had some bad experiences--I took on the mentality of "I have 3 friends; I don't need more." Throughout my marriage, my husband and I have moved every 2 years. Not for the military, but because we changed universities. When I first started college, I had a desire to make friends. I wanted to have those late-night, candy-fueled study sessions in a dorm. I wanted to giggle with girl friends and walk to class with people and go on adventures with others. And for the first year or two, I did that. I made friends. We studied together, we did projects, we had Bible study, we went on weekend trips.
But then my husband and I moved. And I was devastated. Not at the move, but at the loss of my friends. There were nights I cried. There were nights I begged to go back. There were nights I insisted we move back to our home state because I knew I had friends there.
The move was for the best. We weren't happy at the first university, and we wanted a different environment. My learning style required small classes, and I was about to change my degree from biology to English, and the college we transferred to was a small liberal arts school. But after marriage and the move, I felt like making friends was hard. Not because of any fault of my husband's, but because I struggled to find people who could relate. I was young and married, so I was a bit of an anomaly. I also knew we would be graduating in two years, and I would be headed to graduate school. I also wanted to keep my head down and study to get the best grades I could.
So, instead of pressing in and trying, I stepped back. My husband became my best friend, and the only time I talked to classmates was really while I was on campus.
When we moved for my graduate program, that mentality didn't change. I knew I would be graduating in two years, so I thought it would be pointless to make friends. I didn't want to be distracted from my studies, and I thought having friends would negatively impact my grades. I even recall telling my husband once, who wanted me to make friends, "What's the point? We'll be gone soon."
I had grown close to a few girls my last year of high school, and we have stayed friends. I always thought I didn't need anyone else. What the issue really was was fear. I was afraid to make friends that would make it difficult to leave. I didn't want to fall in love with where we were or who we were surrounded by because if we left, I would be devastated and feel alone, just like I did when we left the first university. I was protecting myself.
So I never thought I would again see a time that I made friends and was happy about it, regardless of what my future may hold. But now is that time. Thanks to my church.
I have become friends with a few girls from church, and I find that, for once, I don't feel entirely defeated after spending time with them. I don't get my energy from being around people. Social situations, especially ones with more than 3 other people, take an emotional toll on me, and I tend to have to go home and decompress. While where I get my energy from hasn't changed all that much, I don't feel completely drained after spending time with these people.
They have welcomed me with open arms when I was beginning to think no one would. I am fearful, I have anxiety, I'm uncertain, I love my pets more than most people, I have a pseudo non-traditional job, I often feel broken and unprepared for life...and yet, they have accepted me. They encourage me to grow and think and be myself.
And it is for that I am thankful.
I am thankful for the community I have found. I am thankful I know people who make me look forward to going to a small group every week. I am thankful for people who allow and encourage me to be open. I am thankful for people who accept me. I am thankful for new friends.
If you've struggled, or are struggling, to make friends, no matter the reason, take your time. Allow yourself to come to a healthy place where you would be willing to accept friendships. Be thankful for even that one person you trust. And if you blog, you have a welcoming community here. Because we all need community of some kind.
So, to my girl friends--all of you--if you're reading this, thank you. Thank you for knowing me and knowing my struggles and accepting and loving me anyway.
And to this wonderful blogging community, thank you for following me on my journey and for helping me to grow not only as a person but as a blogger.
Today, I am thankful for community.
. . . . . .
What community are you thankful for?