Adulthood does not come with a pamphlet to answer all of life’s burning questions, like how to make friends as an introvert or what to feed your toddler who won’t eat anything.
When I was younger, probably around eighth grade, my friends and I loved to have group slumber parties, and we would commemorate these occasions with the world’s first “instastory”: the camcorder.
We would lug that heavy contraption around on our shoulders, video taping all of our shenanigans so that later, when we ran out of energy in the wee hours of the morning, we could pop the tape into the old VCR and enjoy our homemade show. It used to be great fun.
I can remember the night it stopped being fun as if it happened yesterday. The group had split into two parts, the handful that was ready for bed and two of us who were not. The girls who were tired made their way to their sleeping arrangements, and a friend and I settled in to watch our recap.
When it came to a “segment” I had not been a part of, I waited expectantly for giggles and jokes that I’d missed. Instead, what I saw, was one of my friends interviewing two of my other friends… and the opening question was “why do you hate Noel?”
Now, I’m not privy to any tapes floating around with that sort of content, as an adult, but I do have some experience in how difficult making friends can be. Because as you can expect, I was friendless as of that night and it took years to repair the broken, and even longer to trust other women with my heart.
Despite the fact that I’m probably the last person who should be doling out friendship advice, I have picked up a thing or two along the way… maybe not so much on how to keep friends, but if it’s making new friends that you need, I’ve got you covered.
Not everyone gets to have my stellar experience with early friendships, but some might. Probably quite a few people can recount a time when they were ostracized, criticized, and rejected. This is definitely not introvert specific.
But introverts have a tendency to feel deeply and remember length-ily. Where some might shrug off a painful past experience, an introvert will probably draw on those emotions over and over again in a lifetime.
Time does eventually turn wounds into scars, and to make friends as an introvert, you’ve got to be willing to take the risk.
Introverts value alone time. Moms value alone time. Introvert moms will literally die without alone time. So when it comes to having to decide between hanging out with someone new and spending that precious kid free hour with your own thoughts, it is a really tough call to make.
More often than not, an introvert mom will choose the thing she knows brings joy over that which may end up draining more of her than she has to give.
The other day, I met up with five other moms, and all of their children, to walk around a historical park area. We stayed almost exactly two hours and I left feeling depleted, overwhelmed, and completely frazzled out of my mind.
Introvert moms probably aren’t going to love massive play date events.
It’s really hard to be an introvert in today’s world because every one seems to thrive in hustle and bustle, busy, and hurry, and slay, and all of the things that get people ahead.
I may really want to get to know you, and I’m secretly thrilled to be invited to your pampered chef party, but I know I won’t be able to be me if I come. Too many people around has me reacting like a turtle, withdrawing into my shell. So, I’ll decline… not because I don’t want to go but because I really don’t want to go.
You feel me, right?
I have met some super cool people via the power of the internet. Incredible, right? I recently discovered a study that says nearly 39% of couples met online.
I don’t know how accurate that is, but why not take the obviously fertile match making ground that the internet is, and apply it to friendships?
I am not suggesting you join match dot com. Please, don’t do that. But what if you found a few facebook groups that were made of people who shared your interests or passions? What if you took a course online where you could interact with a class full of people who were pursuing similar goals?
I have a standing bi-weekly get together with a friend I met through a blogging course and she’s fast becoming one of my favorite people.
Bonus points if you can find a Canadian. They’re basically the best humans.
Speaking of having friends in another part of the world, zoom. This is such a great way to “hangout” without leaving your house (unless you’re me, live in the middle of nowhere, and have to drive into town for a reliable internet connection).
Kids making it difficult to meet up? Meet virtually. Want to get together after bedtime but the hubs isn’t home to watch the babies? Here’s your answer. Covid keeping you locked in and locked down? Zoomify your life.
Making friends as an introvert comes down to connecting on a below the surface level. While an extrovert might be fine, even fulfilled, with a lot of acquaintances that meet a lot of their different needs, an introvert will often prefer a much smaller number of friends who know them deeply and understand them well.
Because of this, making friends often looks like getting to the heart of a person… quickly. But in order to not scare your potential sister from another mister off, it’s important (and liberating and gracious) to go first in the transparency factor.
When you go first, when you’re willing to say “I’m not perfect”, you give the other person permission to be imperfect, as well. Connection happens because a safe space is being formed.
And in my introvert opinion, it makes conversations a whole lot more worth having when the conversations can be real and raw from the outset.
I can’t speak for every introvert on the planet, but I will say from personal experience, trying to convince someone new that you’re a cool person feels as natural as wearing spanx… there’s a lot of squeezing into a shape you’re not meant to be in.
Introvert moms may need to have adult conversation, but that doesn’t mean that they need to do all of the talking. Often preferring someone else take the lead (and the majority of the word count), showing up to an event or get together full of people with whom you’re not familiar with a list of questions planted firmly in your brain, is good practice.
Really, this is true for anyone. But specifically for anyone who doesn’t want to be in the spotlight.
Don’t worry about being interesting enough to get people to like you. Be interested in who they are and discover if you like them.
My fingers don’t want to press the keys to write this paragraph, because if I advise someone else to do this, I will have to do it, too. But alas, introverts unite and let’s press on together.
Look, I get it. I do. If you and I make plans I will always be kind of sort of hoping that you cancel… or at least really okay with it. In fact, I’ll even help you out, give you an option:
“Hey, are we still on for tomorrow or did your mom’s great aunt’s third cousin die and you need to take a rain check? It’s totally cool.”
But the fact of the matter is this: I will sometimes say yes, even while I’m screaming no on the inside, and I will sometimes- get this- be glad that I did. Most times, even. I mean, I will dread that get together until the very moment that it commences and then…
I remember why God made us to be in relationship.
Girl, you need other girls.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.Proverbs 27:17, NIV
Guess what, introvert mama? You were made to be an introvert by God Himself, and He does not make mistakes. That means that your personality is not a mistake. It is exactly right for exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.
So you’re not the world’s smoothest conversationalist, who cares? There’s someone out there looking for someone like you, who can laugh at themselves with, awkward small talk and all.
Plus, at the end of the day, maybe God knows something that we don’t.
What I understand now is that God was protecting me from belonging here on earth so I could see other women with kingdom eyes. He was providing manna in relationships, in pockets of people or time wherein He would fill up my heart, and I absolutely believe that can be true for you, too. I believe that His presence is more powerful and pervasive than that of any girl squad. I think His friendship is purer and more uplifting.Jess Connolly, You Are The Girl For The Job
The good news is that once you do, you can expect deep, fulfilling relationships. The bad news is that it’s going to require a lot of small talk to get to that place. Persevere, my fellow introvert, the reward is worth the effort!