Making Friends as an Introvert.
Making friends as an introvert is not the easiest thing for me. The hardest part is those first moments when I decide to engage someone in conversation or join an established group. For those wondering why? Breaking the ice is problematic because it requires talking, and talking is tiring. Also, I am not a fan of conversing for its sake, and general chit chat conversations are exhausting.
But some years ago, I decided if I were going to build a brand where I help women heal, then I would need to come out of my comfort zone and try and be open to change. However, I was willing to learn how to listen to the conversations that I had no interest in because I am interested in the people having the conversations.
I tried for a long time, but I must have tried with all the wrong people because I got a couple of rebuffs that could have put me off trying to make friends forever. At the time, I thought of retreating to my small well-curated circle where it’s safe, and everyone knows and accepts my idiosyncrasies.
Those rebuffs nearly succeed in putting me off from trying to venture out of my comfort zones and be brave. However, I was in this explorative state to try to reach more people and grow. I was also trying to prove to other people that I was not stuck up, unfriendly and arrogant. These are words introverts usually gets called by extroverts. That was a time when people’s opinion of me dictated too much of my actions.
It’s never a good idea to change because of others, but I have to admit showing them that I was friendly featured in my decisions. With this in mind, I decided to befriend and support my husband’s friends wife. I imagined that even if we didn’t become besties meeting up, sharing recipes and talking about food as women would be nice.
She wanted to change her diet and didn’t know what to do, so I decided this was my opportunity. I have been plant-based for many years and considers myself an ok cook, so I offered to help.
I still remembered the feeling of anticipation in the kitchen that morning; as I made breakfast for my family and talked about vegan food. It seemed like the perfect opening. I am going to make myself friendly, I thought.
My husband, who also didn’t understand the nuances of being an introvert, is always telling me, “Those who want friends must make themselves friendly.”
He has many sound bites for different things.
Anyway, I thought her wanting to explore being vegan was an opening and said, ‘oh well, since you come near our house for work, maybe we could meet up for a drink sometime. I would be happy to share some recipes and stuff.”
It felt like the air left the room at that point as we both looked at each other. Then I saw a fierce look entered this woman’s eyes, and my tummy told me what would come next.
It was a feeling I experienced before. I once reached out to a woman to ask why she had to stop been cordial and got a similar response.
The conversation then went something like this: ‘I don’t have many women friends….’
At that point, I thought, ‘me too’. I didn’t share that this was an experiment in me coming out of my comfort zone. What was the point if it wasn’t going so well? For years after that incident, I retreated to where I was comfortable.
I came back to the present to hear her say
“I don’t need women friends; I am not that kind of person. I have all I need”. Talk about being kicked in the gut, again.
I smiled and said, ‘that’s ok”.
I had grown to know that women are sometimes afraid of taking the offer of friendship. Even though that’s not what I said, I asked to meet up for a drink.
I realise that the statements of ‘I don’t have women friends’ were not about me. Although after that, I realised I was trying to connect with the wrong women. Not everyone can be your people.
Although, I wouldn’t have a problem meeting up with someone and maintain an acquaintance, sharing recipes etc. I wasn’t asking for long lost sisterhood and sharing secrets, but I wonder if the possibility of close connection scared these women. Were they worried they would have to share secrets they were hesitant to share?
That’s when I learnt the power and courage it took to put myself forward and suffer rejection.
We probably all fear rejection. It is uncomfortable, shaming, and can be traumatic. The mass of feelings that comes with rebuff can linger for a long time. These feelings can be messy, and without the right tools to work through them, some people stay stuck in the shame for a long time. Despite having the skills because of my profession as a counsellor, I did not undertake this operation with the arrogant assumption that I wouldn’t be affected.
Rejection can influence feelings of not good enough, not worthy enough, and it can make you question your worth and value. Especially if the people you are trying to connect with don’t see the value, you offer.
I continue to go out of my comfort zone to battle the fear of rejection to connect with women. I still encounter those who misunderstand the offer and treat it carelessly, but I know that’s not about me, and I cannot let it hinder me from reaching those who need a community.