The real honest reasons making friends is hard — especially for adults
I stepped out of the shower for the day — never mind that it was already 2 p.m. I just moved into a new home, in a new city, and every day had been a different variety of crazy.
Any minute I was expecting my sister-in-law to drop off her kids for me to baby-sit. I quickly got dressed, wiped the mascara from under my eyes and, not having time for my contact lenses, grabbed my dirty glasses. My hair was still wet so I threw it up in a towel on top of my head.
The doorbell rang. I rushed to answer it.
To my surprise, it was not my sister-in-law but my super cute new neighbor and her darling teenage daughter, welcoming me into the neighborhood. I graciously accepted their housewarming gift and made introductions but inside I was kind of dying. I was standing there without any makeup, and my hair in a towel. What crazy person answers the door with their hair in a towel?
Later that night I retold the story to my husband and we both had a good laugh. Not knowing much at all about my neighbor, I gave her credit for seeing past my embarrassing moment. At least I’m hoping she actually did. Even as an outgoing woman in my mid-thirties, making new friends in a new neighborhood has me out of my comfort zone.
My 11-year-old daughter told me the hardest part of making new friends for her has been trying to make a good impression and hoping people like her. As a parent, I want to say, “be yourself, Baby! If they don’t’ like you for who you are, then they’re not worth your friendship anyway.”
Thankfully she’s been fortunate to make new friends quickly. All four of my children have actually. Living by great people was the biggest risk we took when we moved. We left great friends and I constantly prayed my children would have the chance at more great friendships.
Yet I can’t help but think that my daughter’s concerns — those of a tween — are the same concerns I now have. Standing in my doorway like a wet rat in a towel, hoping someone will like me anyway. Not really the good impression I had in mind.
I intended on writing this article about how to help our children make new friends. But clearly we all need new friends from time to time. So then I thought I’d write about actual things we can do to make new friends, like “go where people are” and “start a conversation.”
But that’s not really the problem. Knowing how to meet someone new isn’t the problem. For most of us, knowing how to meet someone new is instinct.
Really the problem revolves around increasing our confidence long enough to make a new friend.
It’s about loving ourself for who we are so we can confidently stand in our own skin. If we don’t want them to judge us, we can’t judge us either. No judgment — only love.
It’s about being vulnerable. Answering the door with a towel on your head and praying the stranger in front of you can see you for who you really are. Vulnerability involves letting all of our walls down long enough for others to get close. Even close enough to hurt us.
It’s about courageously having new conversations and trying new things in new places. We have to have enough courage to live outside our comfort zone until it finally becomes comfortable.
It’s about being open-minded to someone new. Genuinely trying to see them for who they really are. It’s looking for their strengths and their talents and understanding all the ways they are great just the way they are.
Making new friends is about trusting someone to know you and still like you anyway. And, if we’re lucky, that trust turns to honest moments, acts of service, belly laughs and life-long friends.
Maybe that’s why we care so much, because just maybe we’ll have a chance at one of those friendships that withstands time. “Hi, I’m Nicole. I don’t think we’ve met yet” — yep, that’s the easy part.
Nicole Carpenter is CEO of MOMentity.com and creator of the Define Your Time time-management program. She is a speaker and best-selling author of “52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family.”