I’ve been reading Stephany’s blog for a few years now and I’ve always felt that she’s been a very authentic and genuine person. She’s not afraid to talk about uncomfortable things and share her own journey. Today she’ll share some thoughts (and wise words) on friendship.
Friendship is something I’ve always struggled with. It was easier when I was a child. I made friends with people in my classes and had neighborhood friends that I would spend all my free time with. There’s something so incredible about how easy it is to make friends as a child. We’re all dying for connection, right? We all want to connect with others, even when we’re five years old and sharing a shovel with a stranger in the sandbox.
In high school, I had a core group of girlfriends. I loved those girls, but I never felt as if I could be fully myself. Once, one of the girls even told me I was boring, something that haunted me from that moment on. (I now fully embrace being boring!) When I left for college, I knew those friendships would fade in my past, and they did.
Next was college and boy, did I struggle. I tried living on campus because I wanted that normal college experience. Slumber parties and inside jokes and late night studying. But college was nothing like I expected it to be. My roommate and I didn’t get along and after a year, I moved back home and became a commuter student. I never developed those lifelong college friendships that most people seem to have. I was shy and I kept to myself. And I had other non-school obligations that didn’t allow for spending a ton of time on campus, joining clubs and hanging out.
Throughout college, my only real friend was my mom. And my mom is amazing and my best friend to this day, but there’s something totally different in having girlfriends your age. But I was too shy and too insecure in myself to reach out to others, so I didn’t form strong relationships with anyone at my school.
It’s been four years since I graduated. And in those four years, I have made it a priority to develop friendships with girls my age. I’m an introvert and I am incredibly shy, so opening myself up and trying new social groups is something that is sometimes downright impossible for me.
Beyond that, though, I knew that cultivating strong female friendships was important. It was vital to my well-being.
My first step was to join a book club. I am a voracious reader, so this made perfect sense. I found a group through Meetup.com, but it took me over a year to summon up the courage to join. (I told you I was shy!)
I went to my first book club meeting in October of 2012 and though I agonized about going and tried to talk myself out of it, I went and it was a fantastic time. Since then, I’ve been to just about every book club meeting and have made some of my closest friendships. I’ve gone on a cruise with some of the girls and started a writing group with another girl. I love these girls dearly and I can’t imagine my life without them. They are “my people.”
After my book club girls, there are my coworkers. Let me tell you how fortunate I feel to have made such wonderful friends through work. Maybe some believe that coworkers should be just that: people you work with. But oh, it is wonderful to work with some of my favorite friends. One coworker in particular has become my best friend, someone I can’t imagine my life without. Someone I’ve grown so close to that I’ve made plans to become roommates with her next month.
This is something I didn’t believe could happen for me. I didn’t believe strong female friendship was possible for me. Maybe it was because, growing up, I didn’t have friends who really supported me and loved me for who I was. Or maybe it was because college was such a lonely, dark time in my life. I wasn’t the girl people made plans with, I suppose. I was the shy, quiet, introverted girl. The one who was content to stand on the sidelines.
I mean sure, my social calendar still isn’t buzzing with events. I still don’t have a ton of friends. But I’ve never been one who has needed to have a ton of friends. I’ve always looked for quality friendships over quantity friendships. As an introvert, I get worn out from too much social interaction anyway and I need a ton of alone time to feel like myself.
My life feels so different from that lonely college girl, the one who didn’t have friends and didn’t know how to make them. I’ve invested in friendships and though they might not be the lifelong friendships so many people my age have, this is the way my story is being told. A story about a lonely girl who was too shy to invest into friendships until she found the confidence to do so. I’ve formed strong bonds with girls I love to my bones.
And though it takes some work to maintain these friendships, it’s something I do with much gratitude and gladness, because I know what it was like before and I never want to be that lonely girl ever again.