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Making friends again!

Well isn't this an interesting place to find myself in. It's a very mild version of a mid-life crisis. I feel like I'm just waking up from the last 15 years to realize that I've become... Well actually I'm not sure what I've become. That's sort of the point.

The last time I made friends for myself was when I went off to Harvey Mudd in 1995. Or maybe not even then. My first friend there was my assigned roommate. She was an extrovert and I tagged along. Then I met Drew and made friends with all of his friends. During the Great Breakup of 1996, which lasted all of a week, my chief worry was that none of our friends were friends of mine. They did their best to reassure me that this was not the case.

When we moved to Wisconsin in 1999 I worked in a used bookstore with about 3 other people. None of them were my friends, although Mark and I were friendly (Nice guy. Retired lawyer looking for interesting work while waiting for his wife to retire.). Drew was in graduate school, surrounded by people our age with similar interests. I told him that it was his job to meet people and bring them home to me. Little surprise, then, that the majority of our friends from the last 14 years were computer geeks, gamer geeks, and the occasional friend from our synagogue. They were all people who reflected Drew's interests. I lost track of what my interests were while reflecting Drew's.

Then there are all of you loyal readers. A lot of you are from alt.newlywed, people who Drew doesn't know. But in the 14 years I've known you I've only met a small handful. And while you make awesome internet friends I've never felt a deep connection with any of you. So while you are a significant portion of friends I can point to from during my marriage and say "Those are my friends, not Drew's" I'm not sure you really count.

There's only one other group of friends I've made in the last few years who aren't connected to Drew. Those are people I met by being an active parent to my kids. Folks I met at preschool, at play groups, at babywearing and La Leche League, at the playground. But again I never felt a deep connection. And the friendship was based around my being Danny's Mommy or Becky's Mommy. Not me, Jenn, whoever she is.

Now we have moved halfway across the country. I have to start all over making friends. But this time I am going to try harder to make my own friends. People who like me for myself, not because of my relationships to other family members. I've been putting out some feelers, meeting folks for coffee. It's a lot like dating, which is another skill I never really honed before settling down with Drew. I don't really know how to do this. And why flying by the seat of your pants while meeting people is expected at 19, it's a bit of a surprise when a 36 year old is doing it.

I need to try to find more time for introspection or self-reflection. Because right now I feel like I am expecting these new friends to show me who I am. And what I really ought to be doing is showing them that I know who I am. If only I knew.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
beth_leonard
Sep. 28th, 2013 06:02 am (UTC)
Awww. This sounds so sad. And yet I know you are a lovely, happy, person, so I'm hoping you're not sad. Making deep connections with people is really hard and takes effort. It is interesting to liken it to dating. My mom loaned me a book called "friendship for grownups" a few years back that I had given to her after we heard the author speak at a Christian Women's conference. The book was not well-written, in the sense that I'm used to better writing than that, and she was clearly working under a deadline, but some of the points were good, that it's hard to make friends as an adult but hopefully you'll find the person who just clicks with you.

So many of my best friends now are still my Mudd connections, and people one or two degrees removed from that. Over time I've formed deep friendships with a few folks from my church, but with one exception, I feel like if one of us stopped attending that church we'd drift away from each other if we no longer had reasons to get together to work on things.

Peter's baby group moms I still number in my extended friendships, but while we shared a precious time together and still write and gather for MNO's once or twice a year, we have begun to drift away and those aren't the people I've found true connection with.

I'm not sure if I count as one of the people who is more Drew's friend than your friend. I sure hope with the babysitting coop connection WE will get to see each other more often, but we're still at that polite stage of friendship, not the stage where I've shared meals with your mother when you weren't available and vice-versa.

Hmmm, that's an interesting metric. When I think of my closest friends, I've met all their parents, and they've met mine. Even the parents who live out of state. With superficial friends, having parents in town is an excuse not to get together. With true friends, having parents in town is extended family we're pleased to share with each other (or help each other with as the case may be.)

--Beth
wrenb
Sep. 28th, 2013 09:10 pm (UTC)
It's not as sad as it seems. I'm just not a broadly connected person. Never have been.
beth_leonard
Sep. 30th, 2013 04:32 am (UTC)
What kinds of things do you like to do? Maybe we could get together sometime and give something a try? I find that doing fun things together helps form the basis of a friendship. Something I'm interested in doing sometime is taking the Wilton Cake Decorating Course 3 where you learn to use fondant. I don't actually like how most fondant tastes, but it does look very good. I figure once I know how to use it properly I can change it to make it taste good to me.

I took courses 1 & 2 with my mother and mother-in-law last fall, but they didn't want to continue to course 3, and I couldn't get a large enough group together to have a course offered at a custom time when my kids were in school. Most of them are 6-8pm which just doesn't work for our family. The pre-req for course 3 is just course 1 or some cake decorating experience. 1 is the gateway course for 2,3, and 4.

Ok. Looked on-line. The Saratoga Michaels has a class on Wednesday mornings that would fit my schedule. https://classes.michaels.com/OnlineClasses/control/classDetails?classId=10002%20&storeScheduleId=1685254&sessionId=759018%20&storeId=3340&categoryId=

If D. is in school, you could either ask for coop sits for Becky, or bring her along after the first day if the instructor doesn't mind.

This is just a brainstorm, I don't actually expect you to be available starting 3 days from now (and given that the class shows 15 slots still open, they course may not go anyway; at the Mtn View Michaels they need 6 people registered to run the class at all, and their space only holds 12 people.) But it's an idea -- you can check your gut and say, "Ohh! that sounds like fun I hope we can make it work!" or "Uf. I'd do it to be polite if I had to, but I'd rather do something else." or "No way. Not a crafty class type, not me." and then you know more about yourself.

--Beth
wrenb
Sep. 30th, 2013 10:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I have a rather spare design aesthetic. I don't do "pretty" when it comes to food. I'd rather sprinkle some powdered sugar over my cake and be done with it.
But I am going to be looking for classes to take as interesting things pop up.
zathrus
Sep. 28th, 2013 03:07 pm (UTC)
Good luck finding friends! I'm still finding mine through organized activities - homeschool support group and church - I wouldn't have the least idea how to find them otherwise. But I have a couple thoughts for you:

- What kind of people you find yourself enjoying being around is a form of information about yourself. It isn't everything you'd like to know, for sure, and I'm not discouraging introspection, but knowing whether you prefer to be around people you can vent to or people who are persistently sunny, for instance, is useful information.</p>

- Sometimes, shared experience can trump everything else. One of my best and most persistent friends - and really, the only friend I have from our time in Forest Park who's more than a FB friend now - is one I never thought I'd get that close to. But I was struggling to keep my house clean around the time that she quit her teaching job to become a SAH soon-to-be-Mom, and we started helping each other clean house. I've cleaned dog hair out of the filter of her bagless vacuum cleaner; she's folded my underwear; we've both scrubbed each other's toilets. In the midst of all that, we discovered qualities we could appreciate in each other that we'd never have seen in the larger Sunday School context where we'd met, and now we get together once a year and the conversation picks up as if it never left off. That friendship surprised me, but it's priceless now.

Best wishes as you look for yourself and your friends. Rebuilding my support network was one of the hardest parts of moving; I feel for you. (Oh, and! Since you're on the west coast now, there are probably more actually useful alumni events, for both Mudd and Scripps; they might be worth looking for. The alumni departments would likely be very helpful there. Just another place to look.)

Newt

wrenb
Sep. 30th, 2013 10:31 pm (UTC)
I think it's the "what kind of people" thing that has struck me recently. My Madison friends were primarily people like Drew. Don't get me wrong, I love him to bits, but I suddenly realized that *I* am not like Drew, you know? And that maybe I should look for friends who are like me. At which point I froze, wondering what I was supposed to look for. I'm going to sign up for a charity knitting group at our synagogue, which will provide diversity. And I'm gradually meeting people around town, which is new and exciting.
Thanks Newt!
nidea
Sep. 28th, 2013 07:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing this! Friends are people we can show our not-perfect sides to. I wanted to become your friend, but I felt you were not interested, so I let it go. Many of my "mom friends" became acquaintances because of the kids, but there are a few among them who I truly cherish as friends now, 4 years later. I wish you luck!

“Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”

― Georgia O'Keeffe
wrenb
Sep. 28th, 2013 09:25 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry for that. I think I'm missing some crucial part of the friendship skill set that understands how to move from acquaintance to solid friend. I felt a gap between even my best friend in Madison and myself.

I rely on my husband for a lot of my social needs. And I feel like I ought to be a little less dependent.
nidea
Sep. 28th, 2013 09:53 pm (UTC)
It's mostly time. I tend to form a bond with others based on a mutual need, and that leads to spending time together, which leads to finding out some things about them -- a common interest, or a personality quirk, or just that you feel good around each other -- that slowly morphs into friendship. But it's still hard, and takes work. And yeah, I feel like a teenager again lots of time.

I've been with the spinning guild for a few years, and I know some of those people are really good friends with each other, but I'm not yet. I look forward to seeing them, and I like them, but it's not friendship yet. Once a month (and I even miss that sometimes) is just not enough.

*hugs*
(Deleted comment)
wrenb
Sep. 28th, 2013 10:53 pm (UTC)
Kid logistics are one of the greatest barriers to my social life. I'm working on it. I've just joined a babysitting coop. And of course if I want to go out without DH I can leave the kids at home with him.

The pressure cooker of college, or any other place where everyone is on an even footing of not knowing anyone, is awesome for making friends. And it's probably because of how rare that is that I generally feel like I'm not very good at connecting. We moved house 12 times by the time I was 13. Seven new schools. I always felt like everyone else knew each other.

BTW: My 18 month old thinks your icon is awesome. :)
anemone
Sep. 29th, 2013 01:03 am (UTC)
I haven't had luck making friends since graduate school. I think the thing is really time--in college and graduate school, you have all this time you are spending together and that gives you a basis for friendship.

As an adult, it's harder to go through and make time to spend with people.
labelleizzy
Sep. 29th, 2013 06:34 am (UTC)
There's various hurdles in the way of spending more time with ppl I would like to know better.

The sneakiest hurdle is something my sister named Engraved Invitation Syndrome... We learnt from our mom, probably, that you shouldnt just "drop in" on people, with the subtext of "don't be a bother" becoming like unto a family commandment...
:(

Compatible personality & compatible schedules... Further hurdles.
But another reason to appreciate my local poly community... Where the joke is that the poly person's mating cry is, "Do you have your calendar handy?" :grin:
inflectionpoint
Sep. 30th, 2013 02:17 am (UTC)
I added you, I'm a friend of labelleizzy.

The South Bay is an exceptionally challenging place in which to make friends, and I'm not 100% sure why. I moved here 3+ years ago after being in Oakland for years, and I'm still struggling.

I would suggest trying common activities - are you interested in a local UU church? contra dances? something that happens frequently and on a repeat schedule may help over months or even years, to form a friendship base.

Best of luck with it!
eyelid
Sep. 30th, 2013 10:56 pm (UTC)
The thing w/friendships is that you need to actually have time to get together. Right now I feel like I don't really have that!
ukelele
Sep. 30th, 2013 11:06 pm (UTC)
I've found that the people I've formed the closest relationships with are people I met while in the pursuit of *my stuff* -- stuff that's about the part of my identity that isn't being a wife or a mom. (Admittedly, surfacing that part of oneself when the kids are small is hard! It's certainly been easier to do as Ms6 has gotten older.)

Of course this raises a certain chicken-and-the-egg problem. But it's the sort of thing where it's very much okay to iterate. No need to get it right the first time.
tiger_spot
Oct. 27th, 2013 01:44 am (UTC)
Hullo, I have followed you back here from labelleizzy's to say that my email address ought to be visible in my LJ profile, and I am up for coffee, especially if it then gets taken to a playground.

I am having thoughts myself about making friends, but in my case it is because I have plenty of friends-for-me, but very few parent-friends, and my one-year-old is starting to need friends of her own.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )