Friday, June 25, 2010
People fascinate me and I love meeting new folks of all types. I’m quick to strike up a conversation with anyone, even to throw a “Good Morning!” to a fellow meanderer across the street or a “Nice job!” to a neighbor in the midst of lawn care. My husband calls me the five year old, as in “Hi I’m Heather what’s your name do you have any pets where do you live?”. I guess it is a fair description of my daily life and we often chuckle about my desire to connect with people around me.
When I was young I was decidedly NOT popular. I’d moved around a lot and had just moved back to South Bend to a new school AGAIN. It was my eighth grade summer and I was in the chorus for the school city musical “Once Upon a Mattress”. I remember standing outside the circle of excited chatter, not feeling like I had anything cool to say. Then something just snapped. I was tired of being shut out so I literally jumped in the middle of the group running my mouth and trying to be funny. It worked; they laughed and I was in.
Ever since then the lively theater crowd has been my niche. As I look back on my high school days and then my 20’s, I realize that with all the showing off and one-upmanship we didn’t really build lasting friendships...more like dedicated audience members. As I moved on into the business world, finished college and expanded my social network I realized that although I had many many friends and people who thought well of me I did not have many real friendships. At the ripe age of thirty four I had lived my life in such a way that I had so many friends I hadn’t been able to build real friendships. I began to work harder on a few core relationships with people who brought me up higher and made me a better person. I planned quality time with them, called more often and didn’t rely simply on Facebook to stay in touch.
When I got married and then had a baby things changed again. I wasn’t as accessible to my friends and their place in my life shifted a bit to make room for my new family. I struggled as some people drifted away when I couldn’t maintain more casual relationships. I got hurt when friends I introduced to each other seemed to like each other better than they’d ever liked me. I would feel let down when people I thought were close didn’t come through for me. Here I was, a grown and supposedly mature woman feeling like the lone middle schooler again.
The past three years have been odd for me to comprehend friendship...If I enjoy someone I want to be best pals with them and when I like so many different folks for so many different reasons it gets tricky to go deeper and really invest in all these people. My precious and wise husband released me from my angst just recently by saying “Heather, you don’t have to be best friends with everyone.” I know he is right and have begun to just enjoy the people in my life in whatever form they come in. I have been surprised too at how much some friends give to me, how much they care for me. Maybe some people I felt should have been closer to me weren’t, but others filled their place. I also think more about what I can do for my friends rather than what they are doing for me. Some friends have fallen out of my regular rotation, and I have become better at accepting that. My dear friend Tracy reminds me that “Friends come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime!” As I near a wiser age of forty I do see all these wonderful people, ebbing and flowing throughout my life, and I say, “Hi I’m Heather glad to know you wanna be friends!?!?”