Funny thing about friendships—you can’t become friends with someone without first having been strangers. Didn’t our parents always say “never talk to strangers?”
Us introverts take that advice to heart. We hate talking to strangers—it’s like walking into the flames of hell.
But when you move to a new place, you have two choices: put yourself out there or wallow in loneliness. So into the fire of small talk and introductions I have gone.
When a mom I’d only met only twice invited me to join a new book club that some of the moms were forming, I accepted. During the first meeting, in which we shared book ideas, I met kind-hearted, smart women, yet I wondered if I would really connect with any of them. In all honestly, I was also a little intimidated.
So last weekend when the second meeting graced the calendar, part of me wanted to cancel. My daughter had been home with the flu earlier in the week and then I was hit with a stomach virus and was still recovering.
Social engagements with people I barely knew sounded even less appealing than usual, but I knew I needed to get out of the house. After talking to two long-time friends about the difficulty of making friends, I felt bolstered by their encouragement.
I thought I’d be home early so imagine my surprise when I rolled into the garage at 11 p.m., feeling not drained but fueled. Fueled in a way that only friends fuel you.
Our book choice was perfect for this first discussion: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown.
In talking about a book on vulnerability, we found courage to be vulnerable with one another. Soon, I learned that, like me, one of the women had moved here but was still working long-distance for her company. She felt just as isolated in her job as I did. Another woman opened up about how she wanted to work less and find balance. Um, been there! Another shared her struggle with transitioning from full-time professional to stay-at-home mom. I could definitely relate.
Over the course of four hours, I felt the sparks of connection flying.
Conversation went deep. So deep we even discussed asking the universe for what we need. One woman brought up how at the beginning of the year, she chooses a few words that represent what she wants in the New Year.
This reminded me of the mantra I had chosen last January: patience and love. I assumed I had failed with my mantra because I had stopped saying it after just a couple of months. And yet, when I reflect upon 2013, I can’t think of a more accurate theme than patience and love. I learned a lot about both. My second mantra last year was “live with an open heart.”
That night I opened my heart to new friendships and was reminded that the unknown is intimidating but also exciting. When we open ourselves to new people, they open our eyes to new ways of thinking and breathe fresh energy into our lives.
Thanks to an evening with new friends, I also identified my words for 2014: courage and connection.
What are your words for the year?