The prompt for this week makes me think of that song from Run Lola Run.
I’m shy. I learned the difference between shy and introverted recently–I read introverted is enjoying quieter or smaller social interactions, whereas shy is timid–and I’m both. This makes making friends difficult, especially as I get older. In school, I saw the same people everyday. The shared experiences of class, the occasional necessity of a group project, and repetition helped me grow familiar with my classmates and eventually turn them into friends.
The same didn’t happen in college. I went to a school too big to see the same people over and over again. And while I was sometimes friendly with the people in my classes, I didn’t become friends with them. I went on a trip abroad my freshmen year with a college group and became best friends with one of the girls there, but I don’t think we actually spoke to each other. It was just “I’m quiet, you’re quiet. Let’s be friends!” She’s one of the few people from college that I’m still friends with now.
Now that I’m not in school and I work from home, I have little opportunity to make real life friends. I try to “network” professionally, but it just seems like everyone in my field already knows each other from going to school together or yelling at each other previously. So at these events designed for us to make professional connections, they break off into their pre-formed social groups, and I’m too scared to break in. But I’m told that everyone hates networking.
Since I became a mom I learned to focus on the things that really matter. What other people think of me isn’t one of them. So while this helped my confidence, it hasn’t helped me actually be social and make friends. It hasn’t helped me decide that I’d rather go to a cocktail hour with a room full of strangers to talk about my career than sit at home with my family or that I’d rather pull a kid away from his toys so we can go to a playgroup with people I don’t know than have quality together time. It’s helped my shyness but not my introversion.
While I’m happy with who I am, I’m worried about my kid making friends. My first friends growing up were my mother’s friends’ kids. Unfortunately, few of my friends have kids my kid’s age, and those that do don’t live nearby. So I tried going to playgroups and mothers’ groups, but I had a hard time connecting with other moms. In part because I worked and the moms I met frequently were stay at home moms, so it was hard to find a time we were both free, even if we did get along. I’m worried about setting an example for my kid. I don’t want him to feel the awkwardness that I felt sometimes in school.
So I wish I were outgoing for my kid’s sake, so he could have friends to play with instead of hanging out with an old lady all the time. But he doesn’t seem to mind handing out with me, and I guess I should enjoy it while it lasts.