Will You Be My Friend? How to make friends when you’re out of the workforce

Hi.   My name is Joy and I am an extrovert.  (sounds like an AA chapter meeting!)

I wasn’t always.  My daughters find this hard to believe, but I used to be painfully shy.  I hid behind my mother’s apron strings (who wears an apron anymore?!!). I cringed at meeting new people;  my helpful mother went up to strange children on the beach to befriend them for me!!  Soo sad!  Hey, I had issues!

I decided that I didn’t like bashful Joy and I began to model my personality after a distant cousin I had met one Jewish holiday celebration.  What’s the worst thing that can happen? I thought to myself. Someone will not like me. Oh well…

It took a while to get comfortable in my new outgoing skin.  But it turns out, you can change who you are.  (I have told my one shy daughter this many times.  She remains skeptical.)  It’s an act at first, until you get used to this new person and then it becomes who you are.  I am proof positive that it’s achievable and doable.  You have to want it, just like anything else in life!   I like me and I wouldn’t change extroverted me to introverted me ever again.

If you’re not comfortable in this 6th decade of life, change it up.  The new people you meet don’t know the old you!  If nothing else, your epitaph will say, “She was friendly!”

 

Hi.   My name is Barclay and I am an introvert.

In elementary school I was the back-row student who tried to be invisible.

In 4th grade, my mother, like Joy’s, tried to secure a best-friend for me — which was quite humiliating.  (One wonders, did she offer money?)

As an adult student, I dreaded that inevitable first-class practice of going around the room to share your name and occupation and then on occasion, the hideous “something interesting about you.”  My heart would pound with such vigor that I was certain others could hear it.  I was concerned my own name would escape me.  Fainting was a possibility.

And public speaking?  Let’s just say I would sooner endure the stomach flu.

Making friends is not easy for an introvert.  In fact, Joy and I became friends because she approached me.  But opportunities are missed if one shies away from reaching out, at least offering a smile, an overture of friendship.

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Joy is right.  Growth is possible.  Maybe it’s high time we introverts show some vulnerability.  (Red wine is also adviseable.)

The LIFE blog by the Huffington Post offers tips to help us be intentional about making friends.

  • Realize that you want to make friends. And not just “kind of want.” “Kind of” doesn’t make things happen.
  • Think of places where you can find people with similar interests. You can find a potential friend in line at a grocery store or volunteering at the animal shelter.
  • The most important step in starting a new friendship is showing up. Start showing up to those places you came up with.
  • Make sure you factor in enough downtime before and after you get out there.
  • It’s OK if you’re anxious about going to new places and doing new things. It’s ok if you’re shy–it’s very common. But don’t let it control your life.
  • Show up with an open and nonjudgmental mind, with your only expectation being that you will meet people, not that you will make a friend.
  • Realize that for most people, friendships can take a while to form. Don’t push a possible friendship.
  • Be open to others. If someone smiles, smile back. Sometimes that’s the end of the interaction.  Sometimes the smile turns into a conversation, which eventually turns into a friendship. You’ll never know if you don’t smile back.
  • Learn to tolerate small talk. Conversations have to start somewhere, and most of the time it’s with small talk.
  • Don’t take rejection personally. Do you want to be friends with everyone? If you’re an introvert, I’m guessing the answer is a big No. The person you’re talking to may have too many friends as it is. Or, they may be totally disinterested in having any friends. You have no way of knowing, so it’s best not to take it personally.
  • Realize that hard things get easier the more you practice. Don’t give up.

 

Being an introvert is not a detriment. It just means we require downtime and preparation.

And a friend like Joy who isn’t afraid to reach out to us!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

 

  • We are who we are, but we can be who we want to be sometimes!  It just takes practice and practice and practice.
  • Accept those  who are different.  My daughters (Joy speaking) consider themselves introverts and my husband is one.  If everyone were the same, it would be a boring world!
  • So glad I went up to Barclay in that bus shelter. Who would I be writing this blog with if not her!?

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy