Welcome to the weekly link up with the fabulous Five Minute Friday Community at http://katemotaung.com/) This week’s word is ‘Friend’.
Strange how I’ve found it so difficult today to write about such a simple word – perhaps because it’s such a big subject or perhaps because it has reminded me of the many times when I’ve found it hard to make or keep friends.
I think growing up it felt as if many of my friendships came readymade. I don’t remember where I met my first best friend. I know our mums were pregnant and under the same doctor together, that we lived only a few doors from each other, and automatically walked to both playgroup and primary school together. Kerry was quite a forceful character and I just followed her lead. When we went to different secondary schools, with less time naturally spent together, I guess we had less in common and drifted apart as she became less available.
Outside of school, much of our family life revolved around church where other close friendships seemed to happen naturally. It was just expected that the children of my parents’ friends became my friends – and they did, some of them much more lasting. Apart from these, in my teens I think I drifted from one friendship group to another, never quite feeling like I fully belonged. In 6th Form, most of those I thought were my friends let me down whereas others I’d considered more acquaintances proved kinder and more accepting. The unwritten social rules proved confusing and at times hurtful.
Moving two hundred miles away to college, I was glad to have a fresh start where I could be known for who I was, without history or known relations, but I found it so difficult without all my familiar supports to back me up. My self confidence completely deserted me for the first few weeks.
Things improved from there though. I’d read somewhere that the way to make friends was to be a friend, to take the initiative, treat anyone I met as a potential friend, not to wait for invitations but to give them out. And it worked.
It’s a lesson I continue to apply as an adult. In a new situation – conferences I’ve gone to on my own, new jobs, holidays, meeting my husband’s work colleagues – I’ve learned to take a breath, remember that others may also be feeling nervous (but that we’re all good at hiding it!), and make the first approach. I remember to take an interest in others, to ask questions about them and let them talk. I’ve also learned that I am better one to one or in small groups so to play to my strengths and that it’s ok to take time out when I find large gatherings a bit overwhelming, regather my equilibrium and then take the plunge into the social occasion again.
Of course, it’s easier now because once again I have great back up: I know that my team of male cheerleaders (husband, sons) will always be onside and the company I love best. And their love and friendship is an echo of the ultimate Friend who reminds me that ‘You need never feel alone when God’s prayer away’. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVkJsyNmtpY)
The best cheerleaders a girl could have – and I had to choose this photo as it is St Patrick’s Day!