Why I'm Not a Social Wellness Expert
Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by to read Part Five of my series, How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle. I could talk to you about how to form a thriving circle of friends and explain how to maintain these friendships throughout the years. I could even gush about what it's like to be part of a tight-knit community who goes on retreats together and has monthly slumber parties with bottomless sangria fountains. I could, but I won't- because I don't want to be a lying hypocrite.
Honestly, building friendships is my weak spot and my open wound. It's gone back and forth between being a dull pain and a sharp stab in my heart for many years. I've realized that I try to conceal my hurt by acting like I don't need or want anyone in my life, because they'll just prove to be another huge disappointment to me. But I actually crave deep, meaningful friendships- not just random acquaintances. I want a close group of girl friends who I can meet up with every week over drinks. I want to discuss our wildest dreams together and laugh about the ridiculous things happening in our lives. Okay, I think I'm describing the plot of Sex and the City, but you get my point! In all reality, I'm pretty jaded in the friendship department and don't know how to get over years of that negativity.
I'm not going to go into major details about all of the friends in college who let me down or all the people who made me feel unloved and unworthy in my life, but let's just say it's enough to make me never want to be vulnerable in making a new friend ever again. So that you can get a quick picture, here are three more recent experiences off the top of my head:
- I went to the University of Georgia where I didn't know a single soul and was befriended by a group of three girls at the beginning of my first school year. We hung out all the time, ate every meal together, and had a complete blast. But when I didn't get into the same sorority that they all got into, they dropped me completely. Not even another text message. When I passed them on the way to classes, they acted like they'd never met me. I felt so alone.
- Almost all of my college "friends" stood me up (11 people!) for my 21st birthday dinner that I invited them to. They just never showed up and had no excusable reason even though I'd reserved an entire space in a restaurant for the celebration. The waitress kept coming over every few minutes to ask if more people would be joining me. It was hurtful and very humiliating.
- I've lived in Miami for over a year now and the people I often hangout with through my boyfriend still don't remember my name, They haven't asked a single question to try and get to know me, and it makes me feel like I'm completely invisible.
I could literally come up with 5,000 other stories from my past similar to these, but you get the gist. I don't even know if I just pick bad friends who hurt me or if I somehow deserve this treatment. In fact, now, I think I've turned into a bad friend myself because I push people away and stop contacting them. I don't want to get close and be disappointed again. As you can see, it's all a self-fulfilling prophecy- the social wellness part of my life is what I'd like to call a giant mess.
Okay, I'm done with being emo! Sometimes we just gotta be vulnerable and get it all out there in the world so that healing can start to happen. So, what does one do when their social life is crumbling apart? I have no freaking clue! I'm not the expert on this. Though I'm experienced and happy with the other areas of wellness in my life, having healthy friendships is not my forte. The only idea I have is to challenge myself to get out there and try to make a friend. It's the only way to avoid permanent hermit-hood, right? If you're feeling lonely or frustrated with your current friendships, give these things a try along with me. In the two months (by January 1st), I will:
1. Go to a Meetup. I think I could find some like-minded people in the following Miami groups: Borderlink (for travelers & curious, culture lovers), Pageturners (a book club), Girls in their 20's, and the South Florida WordPress Group. I've always made friends through work or school though, so this will definitely be a nerve-wracking experience!
2. Ask the girl that I *click* with most at the Meetup to get coffee or brunch sometime soon. This is the hardest part for me. It feels like asking someone out on a date! What if I get rejected? GAH! Sorry for turning you down in the past, boys... I now know how it must feel!
3. Keep in weekly contact with my internet friends. Through blogging and using social media, I've started to build connections with some awesome ladies online. I just wish they all lived closer so that we could have beach days together! I'm pretty bad about staying in touch as much as I should to keep relationships alive, so this personality trait needs to change. Contacting each other on a regular basis is half the battle right there.
4. Hangout with an old friend. I desperately need new friends, but continuing to be there for old friends is just as important. Case in point, and my one bit of happy friendship news, is that I'm going to be the Maid of Honor at the wedding of my best friend since middle school! I'm so excited to experience these special life moments with her! Keep cultivating those old friendships- we all need wonderful witnesses to share in the memories of our lives. :)
5. Keep being open and vulnerable. Writing such a personal post and talking about my failings in friendship is hard for me. I would much rather keep going on with my life like everything is perfect and like I have a billion friends. But true friendships require each person to be vulnerable and invested. This will be the hardest, but most important, step that we all need to focus on in improving our relationships.
So are you feeling lonely in your social connections? Perhaps you have a lot of protective blockages, just like I do, that keep you from making new friends. If so, I'd love to hear from you. Share your thoughts, and let me know what you're doing to cope. On the other hand, if you're awesome at community building and consider yourself a friendship guru, then I'd LOVE to hear your strategies. In fact, it'd be great for you to guest post about it here! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested. :)
Have a wonderful rest of the week!