Making Friends As a Grown Woman from My Favorite Aunt Jenny
Be That Friend!
Everyone hopes to find one true friend who’s that kind you can count on for forever and a day. Be that friend, be that kind that you’ve prayed you might find and you’ll always have a best friend, come what may. Michael McClain
When I was asked to write down my thoughts on “How to make friends as a grown woman,” I was stumped. After all, Isn’t this one of those lifelong challenges that most women struggle with? Especially those of us that have moved around a lot and had to “start over” again and again? Then the thought came to me…this should be a lifelong goal for all of us whether we have moved around a lot or not…one can never have too many friends, so hopefully we are all still collecting friends no matter how grown up we think we are.
However, the question sent me on a little self-evaluation mission…that’s right…SELF-evaluation. What kind of friend am I? It’s not my job to evaluate my friends. Mother Theresa told us that “if you judge people, you have no time to love them.” And In Proverbs 18:24 we read, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…” Even Ralph Waldo Emerson tells us, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” So how friendly am I? Am I the kind of friend to others that I want to have for myself?
I grew up in a small town and went to the same school (with basically the same friends) for about 12 years. I felt like I was popular – at least I knew lots of people and they knew my family and I felt like I had lots of friends. (I am still in contact with my cherished childhood friends.) But then I went away to college, a very large college. I shared an apartment with 5 other girls that I didn’t know nor did I have much in common with. None of my childhood friends came with me to college and all of a sudden, I felt alone! This was a very foreign feeling to me…loneliness. So I had to start from scratch to find some new friends. My survival instincts drew me to something familiar – I love gymnastics so I tried out for the team and made it. Once I started working out with the gymnastics team I found great friends among my teammates. It seems easier to make friends with people that you have something in common with.
As a newlywed, I moved to the other side of the country to my husband’s hometown in Tennessee. I didn’t know anyone, so I set out to start collecting new friends. It didn’t take long to find a friend at church who was also a newlywed, in similar circumstances as me. We shared a deep friendship as we helped each other through those exhausting child bearing years. We supported one another as we watched each other’s kids so we could go to the grocery store or clean the house or take a nap! This seemed to be the time in my life when it was the most difficult to build and maintain friendships because of the demands that small children have on our time and energy. The best way to build that deep bond of friendship is to offer loving and sincere service. The more my friend helped me, the more I wanted to do all I could to help her, too. It was a strong and lasting friendship filled with love and service – we are still the best of friends today. According to CS Lewis, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…it has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival.” This was very true in this situation.
It was even more true after the death of my first husband. I felt it was best to move my family back to California and I had to say goodbye to some very dear friends in Tennessee. I remember those friends saying “let’s keep in touch!” I knew in my heart that, sadly, this would probably NOT happen. Everyday life gets in the way…and it takes a lot of effort to maintain long distance friendships when in reality, they rarely become more than names on a Christmas Card list. That does not mean that the friends you move away from are not an important part of your life, it just means that it isn’t practical to maintain that same level of friendship through the mail. So again, I needed to collect some new friends.
Another challenging thing about developing new friendships is the dreaded clique monster! My heart aches when I see those who form exclusive friendships and don’t let new people in – they don’t understand the value of true sisterhood and are missing out on some great relationship opportunities. It is easy to befriend those you have things in common with, but some of my favorite friends have been those that are very different from me…they have helped me to see things from a different perspective because of their diverse experiences. We all should broaden our friendships more, it brings added value to our lives.
I have since re-married and relocated yet again, collecting even more friends. I have tried to learn from friends I have admired through the years. I set out to do my best to be the kind of friend I want to have. It requires patience, courage, and effort.
What I have learned: We need to be patient with others and give them time to get to know us, to see that we are genuine and sincere. It takes courage to put yourself out there. It is human nature to be somewhat reserve around new faces, but it is important to look people in the eye, say hello, and smile! This lets people know that you are approachable and outwardly friendly. People want to be around people who are pleasant and happy. If you wait for others to approach you, you may be sorely disappointed because they may be too timid to approach you first. You need to make an effort to take the first step, or even the second or third. Take time to say hello to new faces, introduce yourself to them, and show an interest in them. Finding out about them can help you find common ground and begin to establish a new friendship. Volunteer in your church, school, or community. Some of my favorite people are those that I have served with on various committees or events. We learn to love and appreciate the people we serve. This also shows others that you know how to share your time when they see that you are giving and willing to help. Be aware of others and try to include them – make them feel welcome and your circle of friends will continue to grow and enrich your life. Don’t be afraid to “be that friend.”
Wife, Mother of 10, Grandmother of 23, Collector of friends.
From…well obviously my favorite Aunt Jenny! She has a fun blog over at The Parentals where you will see how beautiful of a woman she is inside and out (and what an awesome grandmother she is too)
She also passed along these resources and interesting articles as well:
LOVE this song by Michael McClean, Be That Friend
Great article on Making and Keeping Friends As An Adult
The following article, Friendship Among Women by Jenny Schroedel, has some great insight.
Here’s another interesting study from UCLA On Friendship Among Women
Why Do Grown Women Form Cliques? Article here
Mommy Cliques – Are You In or Out? Article here