At 30 years old I moved across the Atlantic — away from family and friends and driving on the right side of the road — to London, England. You might be thinking, “Oh, that sounds fun! You probably spent all your time down at the pub with those charming Brits, drinking ale and eating fish and chips.”
The truth is … I didn’t.
First of all, their fish and chips were usually skin-on (which disgusts me), their ales were warm (again – ew!) and I didn’t spend much time down at the pub with those charming Brits … because I didn’t know any charming Brits. Not to say that the Brits aren’t charming, they definitely are! It’s because I didn’t know any Brits. The reason? I forgot how to make friends.
At the age of five, making friends was easy! Sharing your toys, sharing your snacks, sharing a kindergarten class.
At the age of 18, it was even easier! Sharing a dorm, sharing relationship woes, and sharing an entire bag of fun-sized Kit Kats.
At at the age of 30, it didn’t feel easy.
While living in England I leaned heavily on my husband for love, support, friendship, and wardrobe consultations — which was great, but I longed for a close female friendship like I had back home, which was 4,700 miles and eight time zones away.
I like to think that I’m friendly, sociable and can hold a conversation, but as I entered into new social circles through school and church, I felt like the circles were already complete, neat and perfectly drawn.
I found it all very intimidating.
I was worried about saying the wrong thing.
I was worried that once someone got to know me, they wouldn’t like me.
I was worried that I wasn’t smart enough.
I was worried that I wasn’t funny enough.
I was worried that I wasn’t stylish enough.
I felt like there was no room for me.
I felt like I had nothing to offer someone in the way of friendship.
And, I refused to share.
I was lonely. Very lonely. My husband worked long hours and my school program had rather short hours, so I spent a lot of time on my own. I watched a lot of TV, I cried, and I called my mom all the time. After a year, I was tired of being lonely and sad, so I decided I was going to shake off all those negative thoughts, insecurities and worries and instead be friendly, open, and vulnerable. And guess what? I made a few friends!
And! I realized something.
With friendship, we don’t just share toys or a dorm, or an entire bag of fun-sized Kit Kats … though we might. We share something even better. We share little pieces of ourselves. Isn’t it kind of cool that you being you and another person being them can meet, be different, with different personalities, opinions, upbringings, family units, styles, political leanings, and taste in music, movies and TV… and yet, still become friends?
Sometimes it’s very hard to remember how different and unique and so very special we are… and how very lucky someone would be to have us as a friend. There are a lot of messages out there saying that only certain people are really special (cue any reality TV cast) and we might not be so special. But, it’s not true.
You’re special. People on TV are special too, in their own kind of special way, but they are no more special than you. There are 7.046 billion people on this earth, and there is nobody else like you. There’s also nobody else like me.
After completing my degree I moved from London to Los Angeles and aside from the sunshine, beaches and In-N-Out burger, the thing I was most looking forward to was making new friends.
Sometimes it’s very hard to remember how different and unique and so very special we are… and how very lucky someone would be to have us as a friend.
You are worth sharing: your life, your story, your gifts.
Be open to sharing a little piece of yourself. Put aside the negative thoughts, insecurities and worries. Realize how special and unique and wonderful you are.
Be open to making a friend. Receive the gift of friendship.
Have you been in a similar situation? How have you overcome loneliness and made friendships in the process?
Images via Bethany Small