I recently did something completely out of my comfort zone. And what I did may not have been a big deal for some of you, but for me it was big.
I accepted an invitation to go to a writers conference — alone.
You see, I am in introvert. I am very aware of my surroundings. I would rather try to blend in with the crowd in order to avoid awkward small talk. So the thought of going to a writers conference where you are forced to have interaction with other people was a paralyzing concept. In fact, on the first day during the “mingle” portion, I walked one lap around the small exhibit area and then walked straight out the door.
I’ve found myself in many situations just like that conference. Situations where I’m new and everyone around me seemed to know people. They seem to have friendships and fun opportunities. And I bet you are like me. I bet you’ve been there, too. Maybe you recently moved to a new city. Or joined a new church. Or your kids started a new school. Moments like this happen throughout the course of our lives, and we are left waiting for someone to take notice of us and offer an invitation to their world.
We’ve been building friendships since we were young. And some things never change. Some of us find it really difficult to find friends. In essence, finding friends was tough as a teenager, yet at the same time easy because you were forced into situations. You automatically sat beside someone in the classroom. You ate lunch in the cafeteria every day. You joined an athletic team. You were forced to find friends.
But as adult women, its easier to hide. We hide in our homes. We let our home be a fortified castle on the hill and never walk out or go outside our door. We allow ourselves to be intimated by our neighborhood. We rely on our garage to comfort us. We are intimated by the schools our kids go to, so we stay in the carpool line. Maybe you look different than the other moms. Maybe you are a single mom in a sea of wedlock. Maybe you work while others moms stay home. Maybe you have yet to discover a common thread between you and someone else. As adult women, we hide behind our car, our house, our front door, but we need to recognize that if we want friends then we need to work hard at putting ourselves out there.
I’ll be the first to tell you that it doesn’t come easy to me. I would rather someone introduce themselves to me than make the first move. But I’ve learned that if you want friends, then you need to be a friend. It is much easier to sit and wait for someone to make the move towards us. In fact, it feels a lot like dating did. Waiting for the call. Waiting for the look my way. We want to be wanted especially when it comes to friendships but we need to recognize the role we play. If you want friends, then your role is to interject yourself into their world. You need to make the first move.
So what should you do if you are looking to connect and make friendships happen?
- Introduce yourself.
- Insert yourself into the conversation.
- Join a Bible study.
- Invite someone for coffee.
- Volunteer at your child’s school.
- Accept the invitations to birthday parties.
- Join an activity.
- Find a church.
- Go on a retreat.
- Invite people into your home for dinner.
I did make some new friends at that writer’s conference, but it took me pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and interjecting myself into their world. It took introducing myself and making awkward small talk. It took stopping someone and saying, “I want us to be friends.” Crazy, right? But do you know what I’ve learned? Everyone that I did that with was looking for a friend, too. Not one of them turned me down (however, I may have been moved into stalker status). We all crave to be known. We all want to be wanted. We desperately want to belong. Someone is waiting for you to make the first move.