Meeting new people is great, unless you are like me and possess the social skills of an ostrich. Then it’s just awkward, because apparently there’s a fine line between letting someone know you think they’re cool, and coming across like you want to date them.
Making friends as an adult is much different than as a kid. It takes a lot more time and effort, and frankly it’s just plain hard to meet people sometimes. As a kid, friendships just sort of seemed to happen without much effort at all. We never really put much thought into it. Simply being together and doing kid stuff was enough to carry us through (until it didn’t; then there would be the ugly friendship break-up that involved note passing, judgmental side glances, and the inevitable social outcast stage. That was everyone else’s normal too, right?).
As a stay-at-home-mom, meeting people has since become a tentative and uncertain process for me. There’s my children’s school where I find myself hovering on the sidelines while the other moms chat comfortably with one another. There’s the kids’ sports and various other lessons where I glance, weakly at the moms who are glued to their phones, typing furiously, oblivious to my need. I’ve gone to playgroups with my kids who have had no trouble making friends, whereas I inevitably tripped and stumbled my way through halting conversations with other tired, distracted mom’s. I even gave yoga a try for a while (lots of heavy breathing, very little talking).
When I do finally meet someone I like, I find small talk very challenging, and either end up talking way too much about myself, or wind up stuck, with nothing else to say. I tend to worry too much about what the other person is thinking, and that can have a powerful effect on what I choose to say and share. I think I sometimes come off as hesitant, insecure or even, heaven forbid, bored with the conversation.
To say that making friends is hard is an understatement. Especially when I’m prone to making bizarre and unexpected comments, like this morning in the schoolyard when I commented to one of the teachers that I felt like a shabbily dressed fashionista washout compared to her. Then I smiled and asked where she did her shopping, because clearly it wasn’t wasn’t where I was doing mine! We probably won’t make eye contact when we see each other tomorrow.