I’ve got a
confession to make. Every Monday morning, without fail, I shower and do my
makeup solely to present myself as worthy to a group of other mommies.
You see, my
daughter attends a mommy and me gymnastics class, and I routinely find myself
feeling a bit out of place among those other mommies — many of whom seem to be
far more put together than I am, and some of whom seem to be all too aware of
can find me in yoga pants with my hair piled on top of my head and not a lick
of makeup to be seen. I am a work-from-home single mommy to a toddler; scrubbed
out and comfy is kind of my uniform.
those other mommies, I feel this strong desire to fit in. To be deemed worthy.
To make friends.
admittedly probably more about me than them. I’ve never done great around
strangers. I’m a true introvert at heart and a bit socially awkward to boot. I
tend to cave in to anxiety around people I don’t know, blurting out totally
inappropriate things in a failed attempt to be funny, or remaining off in the
wings as I strive to simply be unseen. Really, it’s a wonder I have any friends
Overcoming those barriers to make new friends only seems to get harder as we all grow older.
But I do. I
have amazing friends who are like family to my daughter and me. In fact, this
is one area I have somehow always excelled at — making friends with truly
genuine and good people who enrich my life and who seem to think that I enrich
theirs as well.
I am a lucky
girl when it comes to the friendships I have been able to surround myself with
over the years.
But still, I
am awkward around strangers. And overcoming those barriers to make new friends
only seems to get harder as we all grow older. There seems to be an unspoken
rule at that gymnastics class; one that indicates no one is really interested
in making new friends. Their lives are busy. They have friends of their own.
And they don’t have time for new people.
Maybe this is
a phenomenon I don’t fully understand, but … it continues to catch me off guard,
making me feel even more socially awkward in the process as I smile and try to
remain friendly, only to be met by blank stares in return.
is one mommy in this class who has been warm and friendly from the start,
remembering my daughter’s name after the very first day and always going out of
her way to encourage her daughter to play with us. I actually told one of my
best friends recently that this woman was the saving grace of the gymnastics
class for me — having another mommy there to talk to was nice. More than once, she has singlehandedly made me feel like I’m
not a total outsider.
doesn’t even realize how much her warmth has meant to me.
Then again, I
have a feeling she might feel the same way about me.
After our last
class, this other mommy (whose name I didn’t even know, because we have always
been so invested in learning the names of the other children in the class that
we never bothered to make the mommy introductions) walked up to me somewhat
nervously and invited my daughter and I to her daughter’s birthday party, which
is coming up in a few weeks.
“I mean, only
if want to come…” She said. “I totally understand if you have other plans. It’s
not a big deal, really.”
I beamed like
she had just asked me out on a first date and responded emphatically that we
would be there. Because it was nice to be asked. It was nice to feel like
someone was making an overture toward becoming friends!
It was so silly, but I had forgotten how exciting it could be to make a new connection.
numbers, and names, both of us smiling from ear to ear in this dorky way that
was reminiscent of making that first friend in junior high. And as soon as I
got to my car, I called one of my nearest and dearest and blurted out, “I made
a new friend today!”
It was so
silly, but I had forgotten how exciting it could be to make a new connection.
There was a time in each of our lives when new friendships were probably forged
with frequency. But as we get older and add other responsibilities to our
routines, we tend to hone in on our circles and it becomes so much harder to
make those connections with other people.
The truth is,
I don’t need new friends. I have
amazing friends and am lucky to be in a position where we are able to spend a
good deal of time with those who have become Aunties and Uncles to my daughter.
We are all in similar life stages and our children all love playing together.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still exciting to find the possibility of
another person you might actually want
to add to your circle of friends.
mean that a warm smile from a stranger can’t totally make your day.
friends after 30 is hard, but I don’t
think that means we should stop trying. Even being an introvert, I know there
is always room for more quality people in my life — of course, I also know that
sometimes it is about me pushing past my own social awkwardness and opening
myself up to meeting new people as well. About being willing to look up and see
who else might be searching for a bit of eye contact.
Am I the only
one who seems to struggle more with that as I get older?
Or are we all
wandering around, feeling a bit out of place and wondering when it became so
hard to make new friends?