At first, it is hard for everyone to talk to unknown people. It's just that some of us have worked out the kinks of it. When our earliest attempts of making friends have been very positive, it gives us confidence to go on and make new friends. But when the attempts have failed repeatedly, we give up trying and convince ourselves that it isn't worth the effort anymore.
I was very shy as a young person. I can remember being made fun of because I would cry frequently in social situations. All I can say is this: I did not get off to a roaring start! I felt like I had a lot to offer, but I couldn't get over this awkwardness of bursting into tears or just plain not knowing what to say.
People who know me now can not fathom that the timid little girl that I described above. People who knew me then, still think of me clinging to my mother's leg and sobbing by the bus because I was too scared to get on it.
So, what caused the change? I'm not even sure. I can tell you that my mother was beside herself trying to figure out what to do with me. My mother deserves a gold medal and a half. She enrolled me in basketball, soccer, ballet, girl scouts, Sunday school.. just hoping I'd find my niche. Eventually, it was ballet that gave me some degree of confidence. Also, I went to summer camp and heard the Gospel and professed salvation at age 12. These things helped me develop some confidence in areas that nothing else had.
So, were all of my attempts at making friends golden from then on? No way. There were plenty of mis-fires. I guess I just kept trying and trying and trying. We have to take RISKS. Risks are huge in friend making. And we have to be able to brush the dust off and keep trying.
If I tell you guys the most ridiculous friend-making "attempt" I've had in my adult life, will you relax and laugh with me and realize that we all make mistakes?
It was about 11 years ago and we were living in North Dakota. I had not yet met my bosom friend Kathy yet or Jennifer or anybody that was special to me now. But I was sooooo lonely for a friend!
So, I found a mom who was an officer's wife, homeschooled four children, was a Christian, and appeared to be about 10 years older than me--perfect!! She looked like she had it ALL together, and certainly SHE could help me.
So I poured out my heart to (Kim). She patiently listened to my woes. I was just waiting for her to say "You'll get through this stage. It'll be all right, honey.." etc. Instead it was something like, "I think you need professional help. I don't know what I can do for you."
Ugh! Ouch. I just poured out my soul! For what? Now I can laugh uproariously about it. She probably needed professional help after that!
So, I took a risk. It bombed. So what? I just kept trying, but this time I would try not to overwhelm my potential friends.
Note to self: try not to let them know you are a complete basket-case on the first meeting.
Mistakes are self-correcting, you know. But they aren't fatal. You do learn from them. Here are some basic things I've learned about making new friends.
1. Keep the conversation light and upbeat.
2. Try to focus on something about them that you've noticed is nice/ commendable/ noteworthy.
3. Don't have hidden motives, and it won't look like you do. People like sincerity. If they think: all she wants is a client, a convert, a ..? they'll figure that out right away. I just like people, and that's the end of it.
4. Share something about yourself that you perceive would be noteworthy to them. It's not that you want to make the conversation about yourself, but there's a sense of humility that comes with sharing of yourself... genuinely.
5. Smile and enjoy the time. People just relax and enjoy themselves when others are doing the same.