By nature I’m a social animal. I like to laugh; usually it’s the loud and knee-slapping variety I prefer. I’ve found that that is best done with other people, lest you get the “who’s that crazy lady?” looks from strangers. So it only makes sense that I like to have friends and be with them for any occasion. As an adult life can be complicated and demanding. It takes work to maintain friendships, but the work is worth it. Take this weekend for example; I had my “12th Annual Girls’ Shopping Day” with four of my best girlfriends from college. A little lunch, a little wine, a lot of overspending for Christmas. It was the perfect way for us to get together, catch up and get a bunch of our holiday errands out of the way (and then some!).
I have always loved “belonging” to a group of friends. As a teenager, I wanted to fit in and be liked, and not with just an in-crowd or a clique. I wanted everyone to like me. I didn’t even mind spending time with my parents and family during those teenage years, because it was an excuse for me to socialize, with either the kids of my parents’ friends or the other grown-ups. I just loved being included. When I was in college, it wasn’t enough to just make some amazing friends from my dorm. No, I had to go one step further and join a sorority. I wouldn’t change a thing about those choices, but as I look back, I’m seeing a pattern here.
Even now, I gauge my happiness or success in a job by the types of interactions I have on a day-to-day basis. I have worked for both large and small companies and always found a way to increase my satisfaction, or even just bear it, by the company I keep at work. I could never have a job that hid me away in a cubicle. Surround me with people please! When I started my job with my current company, I was anxious to meet new people and make friends. I was slightly worried that I wouldn’t fit in since this is a more conservative environment than I’ve ever been in, or that people would mistake my need to be social with a being a slacker. The good news is, that I’ve been here for over a year and made a handful of great friends and managed to get a lot of work done in the process.
I still want to be liked and try to build rapport with my co-workers whenever I get the chance. One co-worker in particular has been holding out on me. We are both professional women about the same age and have daughters that are very similar in personalities and interests. When I learned that her daughter was the same age as my daughter, “play dates!” was the first thing that came to my mind. I had visions of our girls playing rock star while we sipped our Starbucks and bonded over the trials and tribulations of raising a fiercely independent wild girl. So far, any attempts I have made at building that relationship have been met with lukewarm reception. She’s nice to me, don’t get me wrong, but there’s no spark on her end. Maybe she’s got enough friends or just doesn’t socialize with co-workers. I guess not everyone is as excited to make new friends as I am. (“Who wouldn’t want to be friends with me?” said the scary extrovert…)
I want to be friends with her, but I realize that there is a fine line between being friendly and throwing yourself at someone. I don’t need a restraining order in my life. (Awkward…) I just want to be liked; she just wants to be left alone. Respecting that, I will float my social butterfly self along and not take it personally.
So how about you-what are your thoughts on making new friends as an adult? Is it tough out there or am I nuts?