I sat on the patio at Peet’s/Noah’s on South Lake in Pasadena, one of my happy places. It was 71 and sunny, as it should be on February 4th in L.A. The Santa Ana’s had just come through, so the view of the mountains was as unobstructed as possible.
While Flop snuffled for bagel crumbs, the family one table over relaxed with their kiddos—a girl about 7 and a baby. When the elder had finished her fruit, she started playing on the planters and in the lawn area of the courtyard. It only took a few minutes before she began to play with two other girls, with whom she hit it off. She ran back to her dad and exclaimed,
“Look Daddy, I made friends!”
If only it was always that easy.
When I was a freshman in college, I had a shocking realization—I didn’t know how to make friends. I came from an amazing church with a large circle of kids my age. In this community, I had always had friends. And when new people joined the youth group, I was part of the group that welcomed them to us. I didn’t see that as ‘making friends’ per se. I was so comfortable and so extroverted, it felt like it just happened effortlessly.
But now, there were strangers everywhere who didn’t know me at all.
And it paralyzed me.
The thing is, I went to college with a bunch of amazing women. These women are smart, kind, good friends, go-getters, and fun.
But I don’t know much of that from first hand experience. Because I got scared and hid from them. I was lonely, for sure. But rejection was going to be worse than being lonely, so I stayed in hiding, admiring them from a distance, appreciating their comments in class, or if we sat together in the DC.
For two years, many of them were even my suite mates.
But I was so scared of having my feelings hurt I couldn’t manage to do anything other than be jealous of these women who were finding their tribe all around me.
Many of them have lives now that make me wish I was in touch with them, or better, friends with them. I want to ask them how they’ve been shaped by the 7 years after school, how they feel about nearing 30, how they decided it was time to try for a baby, how they’ve navigated their singleness. If they blog, I read it, and am so impressed. But I’m still watching from a distance.
Nancy Beach writes,
The truth is that when we stop the mommy wars [or any other comparison game that creates a fear of rejection in us] and choose to believe the best about one another, we have the chance to do life in a tribe of women who contribute in immeasurable ways to the joy and adventure of the journey.
Slowly but surely, I’m finding a tribe. But I sure am jealous of what happens for 7 year olds at Noah’s. Or these folks: