I’ve struggled my whole life to maintain friendships. It is something that is very hard for me to talk about and acknowledge, but I have been dealing with it since I was 12. I have had 5 best friends leave my life and three friend groups that I have just fallen away from.
After enough friends left, I stopped trying to maintain friendships that began to wane. What’s the point if they don’t care anymore? I struggled with poor self esteem. Add in my introversion and the fact that I am aware I am unable to read social cues, and I was certain the problem was that just no one wanted to be friends with me.
When I went to college, I made friends first semester, as it is easy for freshman to do. I wasn’t afraid to ask people what they were doing Friday night or if they wanted to go to dinner. But second semester, I put too much of my time into my relationship with my now-fiance, and those friendships lost traction.
Sophomore year, I started out trying to build new friendships within my roommate’s friend group and within a Christian organization. I ended up connecting with a girl I had gone to junior high and high school with, but other than that, the relationships were all very surface level. When, in junior year, my roommate and 4 other pairs of roommates, who I thought were friends, all decided live in a 10-person “pod” without me, instead making the 10th person someone most of them hadn’t met, that was it. After crying for about two days, I decided I had no desire to try to be friends with these people any more. The few friends I did have graduated, and I was left starting senior year, alone, living in a single on the quiet floor of a dorm.
Feeling lonely and hopeless, I still longed for a friend. My relationship with my fiancé – 4 1/2 years – is the longest friendship I have maintained and while I love him, it wasn’t enough. I didn’t want to graduate with no friends; I didn’t want to be lonely and sad my whole final year. But how does one just make new friends senior year of college?
This time I joined a different Christian org. It is a smaller community and most people are the same denomination as I, so I quickly felt welcomed. There was still the problem of them all being friends already, and almost all of the women in the group living in a house together, but they have graciously taken me under their wing. There is more casual socializing and small groups, so people have a chance to get to know me. And they seem genuinely interested in becoming my friend.
Am I going to build any lifelong relationships? I don’t know, but for the first time in a long time, I feel compelled to try. I am scared at times to be myself or that I will say something wrong, being acutely aware of my lack of a filter and inability to read social cues. I usually compensate for these by just not speaking ever. But this amazing group of people has put more effort into including me in just two months than that previous group of “friends” did in 2 years.
Why am I telling you all this? I don’t know. I could have gotten my point across without the novel. But I felt compelled to share my struggles. You know how they say those who can’t do, teach? Or those who know the most about something are those who don’t have it? I guess I’m just sharing my credentials. 🙂
All of this was a long way of saying, cherish your friendships. Don’t let them slip away if they are important to you. If you have a friend who hasn’t called you, call them. While you are sitting there wondering if they don’t like you, maybe they are doing the same.