I’ve read article after article about the importance of close friendships and having a close-knit group of girlfriends. Close friendships can improve mood, overall happiness and, in some cases, health — and the list goes on. I believe it. But the thing is, I don’t have many close girlfriends. I never really have. I’ve always been part of a group of friends — but never have felt that close to most of them. Don’t get me wrong, I have a few very good friends — spread out from different phases of my life. And those friends have made all the difference in my life.
Just this past weekend I spent some time with one of my closest friends, who I met when we were in college. It was great to reconnect and have some serious “life chats” that I’ve been sorely missing in my life lately. And when I visit my hometown, I try to visit with one of my oldest friends (we’ve known each other for more than 20 years) and always come away feeling … refreshed and happy. In addition to making me truly appreciate what real friendship is, though, these visits also reminded me of the fact that I don’t really have that many other good friends.
I don’t have a group of girlfriends I can call up and get together for drinks after a tough day at work. I don’t have any standing dates with my friends for a girls’ night out. I don’t have that group that feels like a second family. You get the picture.
Recently, I’ve been wondering why. I do great at the one-on-one friendships. And I give all I can to my friendships. So what gives?
I’m kinda wondering if it goes back to when I was a teenager. When all the girls were out shopping or having sleepovers, I was nervous, hiding in the corner, not wanting to participate because I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I was always overweight, and never felt like I belonged. And part of me always wondered if I was just included because the parents made them include me, because they felt sorry for me, because they wanted to have someone to pick on — all of the above. Maybe by missing out on some of these experiences, I missed out on one of life’s important lessons: How to be a friend.
I mean, for example, what do most teenage girls like to do? Go shopping. And when you can’t fit in any of the clothes, why participate in the shopping trip? I feel like I missed out on that initial stage of female bonding, where you really learn what female friendships are all about. No, it’s not (always) about the shopping. Sometimes it’s about the shared experience and what goes on while you’re shopping. And I didn’t have any of that, so I didn’t learn those friendship skills. Or, maybe it’s because I didn’t have the self-confidence to really jump in and be an “active” friend — which, again, carried over into my adult life.
So, how do I get over that now that I’m grown (and growing comfortable/confident as myself)? How do you even make friends as an adult?