Way back when, I was a young and naive freshman at Baylor University. I was so excited to be out in the big wide world and to be away from my microscopic hometown. The one thing I was most excited about was expanding my circle of friends. An unfortunate break up during my junior year of high school resulted in the implosion of my social circle and I had too much wounded pride to attempt making new friends for the short time I had left in that town. Off I went to a university that’s student population was more than double my old hometowns. I just knew that I would be able to make friends.
At first, I was surprised by how easy it was. Study groups, test parties, and group projects seemed to abound. If all we ever did was study, that fit my personality. I was type-A to the max and wouldn’t stand for low grades or slacking behavior from myself. And then, slowly, but surely, I began to realize that the only things I was ever invited to were study sessions. That my own invitations often went unrequited. After the aforementioned loss of friends in high school, this ostracization had a negative impact on my view of myself.
Now, I’m not trying to paint college like a bleak, friendless wasteland. I made good friends and I eventually learned to only study with those friends (except when asked by the teacher’s to lead the study sessions, I never did learn to say no to that). And I enjoyed my experiences.
But. But, at the same time, I know that the fear of people only being friends with me because I push or because they want something from me lingers. And over here? On a small base with limited people to interact with? Not to mention having that limited pool limited further by complicated things such as rank?
Both my husband and I have found that if you want friends, you have to push for them. Invite, invite, invite is his motto. Make all the plans and you’ll always be included. He’s been pushing this philosophy at me for over two years now. It’s starting to rub off on me too. I’m starting to realize that sometimes people don’t know what to invite someone to do. That sometimes, they might have scars themselves, might be afraid of putting themselves out there.
I’ve started pushing. I’ve started sending out invites that I don’t expect to be accepted. I’m always surprised when they are. I’ve started recognizing when others are asking to hang out, in however abstract a manner. Over the last month and pushing into next month, for the sake of socialization I will have gone grocery shopping many times, gone to a hospital, and will be taking a CPR course. It might not sound like much. But it is.
I am celebrating, not just my new found friends. I am celebrating finding in myself the girl who likes to include others and reach out to others. I’m finding in myself the friend that I’ve always wanted to be. It may not come completely natural to me, but I’m getting there.
Does making friends come naturally or easily for you?