My Dad once told me about how he would sit on a rock in the schoolyard and wait for kids to come and play with him. He said he never made any friends that way. As I think more about his story, I realize just how many women are sitting “on their rocks” just waiting….(and longing….) for a friend.
I used to think I was the only one….that no one else ever struggled with loneliness, insecurity, or self-doubt. The more and more I talk to other women, the more I realize how big of a problem this really is. Our churches, mom’s groups, school parking lots….they’re all filled with women sitting on their rocks. Have you ever looked around a room at another woman and thought, “Well, she has TONS of friends, why would she want to talk to me?” or “She already has a close friend, so why should I bother?” Maybe you look around a room, and see women talking to other women and fill with jealousy or self-doubt. You can’t imagine a scenario where you would feel comfortable attempting to join their conversation, and find yourself wishing YOU were the one with someone to talk to. Perhaps you’ve been intimidated by another woman or felt like you’d just get shot down, patronized or turned away. The truth is, MOST women struggle with confidence from time to time (especially when we make the mistake of comparing ourselves to other women!!!) We allow self-doubt to infiltrate any social setting, preventing us from allowing people into our lives. We continue to feed the lies in our head that we just aren’t good enough, and no one really wants to get to know us. (and certainly not the REAL us!)
And the real truth is that MOST women also struggle with loneliness. Motherhood can be isolating,and we can often lose our identity after having children. Add in a woman’s need to compare herself to other women and couple that with our array of insecurity, fear, and judgement issues, and we end up with a society full of women just longing for a friend.
We find ourselves wishing for Chandler and Joey to show up and wonder why we don’t have any scripted Hollywood friendships. I’ve said it before, but developing close friendships becomes more difficult as we grow older. We no longer have as many opportunities for friendships to happen naturally, the way we did while we were in school. Remove the workplace, and finding friends becomes even tougher. For the stay at home mom, the vast majority of our conversations are with people who find Diego, Goodnight Moon, and fruit snacks to be exhilarating. (Not exactly mentally stimulating if you know what I mean!) When we were younger, we didn’t have kids to play with, tuck in by a certain time of night, or cart around anywhere…We weren’t as stressed, as tired, or in truth, as in need of these relationships as we are now, and now we have to work ten times harder to find (and maintain) these relationships. And, we simply MUST. We are hard-wired for relationships (plural!) We need to find a few women that we connect with to help us through this life and this crazy journey called motherhood! Have you ever finished venting/talking to your husband and after his reply said, “Ugh! I wish you could talk to me like a girl?!” I have! As much as I rely on my husband, and while he will always be my best friend, I NEED women in my life! Another woman will understand you in ways your husband simply cannot.
Starting a friendship can be scary….I will be the first to admit that talking to people can be hard! You cannot allow your fear to continue to make strangers of people who would be friends (thank you Shirley MacLaine for that one!) Don’t allow yourself to believe that “she” doesn’t want to get to know you, simply because she isn’t making the first move. She’s probably scared too! We are all just sitting around on our proverbial rocks WAITING. We’re just waiting for someone to come and talk to us and discover just how wonderful we are. Truth time ladies…Someone has to get off their rock first! Might as well be you!!
I used to wait around. When no one was inviting me over or walking across the lobby to talk to me, I just assumed nobody wanted to get to know me….that I was “no good” , and figured I’d just continue being lonely. Then, I decided to get over myself and go for it. I started approaching people, if only to say “hi” at first. I decided to go ahead and put myself out there. I got involved. Ya know what? It’s working. (And yes, still a work in progress!)
The thing is, we’re not all that scary. While yes, there are a few women out there who aren’t super awesome, MOST women will talk back. (When it’s said like that, it seems like a VERY silly thing to worry about in the first place huh?) I mean really, would any of you just stare blankly or turn away from someone who came up to you and said “hi”?! Of course not! I started to notice other women, and saw them all exhibiting the same behaviors I find myself doing…Moms would be SUPER interested in their phone waiting in the pick-up line at school. Women would practically cling to their husband as a safety net at church. Ladies would become very focused on their plate of food or their baby at MOPS. We avoid so we don’t get hurt. We need to unlearn our defense mechanisms and allow ourselves the opportunity to make friends.
So today, I encourage (nay, I IMPLORE you!) to make an effort. Be the one to make the first move. Look for the women doing the things listed above…I guarantee, she’s wishing for a friend too. Even the pretty, well-dressed, “have it all together” moms are experiencing loneliness and need someone like you. I’ve learned that I don’t actually get shot down. Women not only talk back, but keep talking, and that first “hi” leads to a longer exchange the next time, and the next time, etc. Just think, wouldn’t it be nice to have more people to say hello to at the places you frequent? Wouldn’t it be better to get to know the lady you sit next to while watching your kids play baseball or be able to talk to the other moms dropping off their kids in the nursery at church? You never know…that woman you’re too afraid to talk to could be your best friend.
Here is your challenge for the week…I want you to try one of the following steps….(they’re all baby-steps…I promise!) Say “hi” to someone this week, or introduce yourself in a non-threatening way. (An easy way would be at something involving your kids.. “Hi, I’m Hannah’s mom.” (The woman will at minimum,answer you back and say whose mom they are! Then, you have an opening to talk about something else!) Friend request someone on facebook that is just an acquaintance or someone you’d like to get to know. (Most people don’t say no!) Facebook friending also allows you the chance to figure out something to say to the person the next time you see them! “Is Nathaniel feeling better? I saw that he had strep. That must have been really hard!” Look for a group to join. See if your church has a small group program, or a Moms group. Find a playdate group or a book club. I KNOW you can do it!
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You are worth getting to know, and I guarantee that other women are sitting there wishing someone would talk to them. Be that woman. Be strong and courageous, and for pity’s sake, get off your rock!