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An Introvert’s Guide to Building Friendships

If you’re an introvert and building friendships is hard, here are some practical ways to start.

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If you’re an introvert and building friendships is hard, here are some practical ways to start.

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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 an 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 writer’s conference where you are forced to interact 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.

It’s Easier to Hide

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 other 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 have to 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.

Friendship-Making Tips for Introverts

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.

Sarah Bragg has worked with students in ministry for more than 15 years and previously worked in full-time ministry for 7 years. Her book titled titled Body. Beauty. Boys. The Truth About Girls and How We See Ourselves helps young women find their value in the One who matters. She is the Lead Editor for a student strategy and curriculum called XP3 Middle School for Orange at the reThink Group. She has a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. Sarah and her husband, Scott, and their daughters, Sinclair and Rory, reside in Marietta, Georgia. To listen to conversations about surviving life, check out her podcast Surviving Sarah on iTunes and to follow along with her life, check out www.SurvivingSarah.com.

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An Introvert’s Guide to Building Friendships

by Sarah Bragg time to read: 3 min