Saturday, March 27, 2010

FRIEND BUCKET

I want to get something off my chest. Not because I want pity and not because I want to whine, but because I think there is something WRONG with what's going on!

I'm talking about women and friends. Women need friends. I have known this for a long time, but I have never felt it quite so poignantly as I have recently. That's because I have just had my "friend bucket" refilled, and it feels so wonderful!

We moved to Idaho nearly three years ago. I have made acquaintances. I have some people that I call my friends, because they've graduated from the acquaintance stage.

But I don't have a friend here like I have other places. Best friends, for lack of a better word (because "best" implies you can only have one.) This is the kind of friend I mean:
  • The friends who could show up on your doorstep at 10 pm and ask if they can stay for a week, and you're just ecstatic to see their face. And you're sad that they didn't ask to stay two weeks.
  • The friend who never even noticed (or cared) that your house is a wreck, except that they just help you put things away while you chatted.
  • The friend who you haven't seen in 3 years, but it doesn't matter, you can pick up right where you left off.
  • The friend who says "if we have plans, we'll rearrange them!" when you say you'll be visiting their town.
  • The friend who hasn't contacted you in 8 years, but instead of being upset with them for not calling, you're just so happy that they did.
  • The friend who says, "I've never told anyone this, but I know I can tell you."
  • You can remember the very moment you met them, all these years later.
  • The friend who tries really hard to figure out how to move closer to you.
  • And it's all reciprocal.
I have friends like this. Friends who know sooo much about me, and like me anyway. Friends who cry with me and think about me and love me. And I love them. I don't have many, but with friends like that, who needs a bunch? They're worth a million acquaintances!

It's hard for me to live so far away from my friends. My "friend bucket" got empty these past three years, but it was refilled this past month when we visited them and they visited us.

I've tried really hard to make friends in Idaho. Okay, I'll admit that when I knew we were living somewhere temporarily, I didn't try very hard at all. I couldn't stand the thought of making a friend, just to move away from them again.

But I've lived in the same house for over a year now, and it's permanent, so I've been trying to step out of my comfort zone and make friends.

I have had people look at me like, "why are you talking to me?" when I try to meet them. I have had people actually turn their back on me while I was talking to them. I have invited people over for a playdate and to get to know each other, just to have them call and cancel with a really transparent excuse. I have even heard people say (although not to me), "I don't need any more friends." And you know, that hurts. It made me stop trying. It made me sit alone and just suck it up. I've wondered what's wrong with me, why people don't like me.

But the thing is, when I talk to other women, they feel the same way! They don't have any close friends, and would like them. So what is wrong with us? It's particularly inexcusable within an organization like the Relief Society.

After getting my "friend bucket" refilled, I know that I've got to try again, because I don't want to let it get empty again. And I will try again! I'd appreciate any ideas you ladies might have, because I most have "don'ts" that come from my personal experience.
  • Don't suggest a play date for your kids so the other mom can have some time alone. Yes, that would be precious time, but it would probably be even more appreciated if you stayed and got to know each other!
  • Don't only invite people to do things that cost money! I've been invited to lots of things like that, but never go because I just don't think I can afford to do it. Especially right now.
  • DON'T assume that everyone else already has enough friends. That's a big one I've learned recently. I desperately needed my "friend bucket" filled, and it turns out that sooo many others need theirs filled, too. I was very surprised to find that one of my best friends was empty. I was super surprised when a new friend, who unfortunately lives far, far away, also needed hers filled. These are wonderful women, and I just assumed that they had friends galore. But they needed me as much as I needed them.
So go make a friend! They need you, and you need them. And please, leave suggestions for fun ways to meet new people in the comments! Pretty pretty please????

3 comments:

Cherie said...

This is not a new problem. I will never forget in the very first ward I was in as a young married woman (some 25+ years ago now) that the Bishop came into Relief Society one day and said that the #1 thing he hears from women in the ward is that they have no friends. I was stunned. I have thought alot about that over the years and not growing up in the church I decided there is a few things going on.
-Over the years as I have served, especially in Relief Society, I have heard many women with this complaint and the thing I noticed was that many times these were the very women who did not come to anything or make any kind of effort to be a friend - they just thought as part of the ward people should come knocking on their door. (I know this is not you)
-Women outside of the church get together in the morning for coffee and to chat, or in the evening over a glass of wine (lol) and things like that. It is kinda hard to get together over lemonade and chat - just not the same feel - I know because I tried it when I was younger - so as LDS women we have to be a bit more creative.
-Women in the church have many, many responsibilities and it just gets to be more and more the older you get and the older your kids get. So they get tired and they have had their "social cup" filled although it may not necessarily be close social things.
Those are the some of the main things I have noticed.
I am super social as you may have noticed. I like to party for just about any occasion. We invite people over to dinner and/or to play cards. We have for years.
In fact, I think we invited your family over when you moved into the ward and you couldn't come (I feel bad now that for whatever reason we didn't try again).
When I had younger kids at home I was the "planner mom" and I would plan trips to the park, or to a lake, or to the zoo and invite 10 other women to go with their kids.
Now that I am older I still plan stuff. I think the key is -someone has to be the planner- and then everyone will come - that is what I have found. I have not found anyone else who is a planner like me so if I didn't do it I think I would have missed out on alot of friends and good times.
So go ahead Susie - Plan some outings, or plan to have a game night and before you know it friends galore!
You know the saying "It takes a long time to grow an old friend!". It's worth all the effort though.
And very valid post!!!

Emily said...

Wow, I love this post!!! Thanks for coming out and just saying it all!
I think I totally have issues with "friends"! We've been here a year and I really have no friends. OOH, I also think that if people live in a town with other family members, they tend to just rely on those family members. I totally do that and I shouldn't. When we were in Boise, we tried much harder to make friends because we had NO ONE around. But, here we have family and have slacked off on meeting people. I'm also shy and have really struggled with this. It really hinders making friends so be glad you don't have to deal with that! I try to change, but it's hard. I also feel like because I'm shy, I get judged very easily. I've actually had people tell me (after I get to know them) that they thought I was "stuck up". Uh, that hurts. That is the last thing I want to be! And if you did think that, don't tell me! LOL Luckily, I had a "girls night out" group in Boise (we were all in different wards, but had previously lived in Spokane,WA and somehow all reconnected in Boise). I actually did not know these girls very well, but thank goodness they invited me and I went. I really miss that group, it was AWESOME! We went out once a month to dinner and a movie (even during the week if we had to). Hey, maybe I should give them your number! Wow, they were great! I'm trying to get enough guts to start one up here in WY.
I TOTALLY know what you mean about thinking people already have enough friends. That is prob. the first thing I think,"OH they probably already have too many friends!" or ,"They seem so busy, they don't have time for me."
I totally agree with Cherie... be the planner mom!!!!! Cuz I'm telling you, I'm NOT the planner mom, but if I'm around one?? I WILL GO!!!! LOL
It sounds like you totally put forth the effort (which is MOST people's problem - they don't) so, I don't know, it might just be waiting until the right ladies come along!

Anonymous said...

I've had the same issue too. But my problem seems to be that I pick the wrong people to be friends with...too many times have I been used and betrayed and so after awhile I just gave up any hope that there are decent people left to be-friend. Sad, but true.

But now I am starting to be-friend a couple of women from Matt's school that are very nice with good kids and family so I am not so worried about them turing a 180 on me.

I think the previous women had great ideas and I just have one more: don't limit your search for new friends to only LDS women. There's plenty of wonderful non- LDS women that make great friends. (I put myself in that catagory ;) )