Life Lessons | This Happened To Me
How To Be a Good Friend
This week, I stumbled on old photos from my times at various summer camps in my teens, and as I went through them, I found myself feeling something unexpected. I kept looking at the faces of all of these girls I’d met years ago and thinking, “She was probably pretty cool. I wish I’d known enough to become friends with her.”
Let me preface all of this by saying that I came into potential friendships with a bit of baggage. I had a strange relationship with my mother that left me feeling like girls weren’t totally “safe,” and on top of that, my mother never failed to remind me that preteen and teen girls are “the worst.” I generally expected girls not to like me.
What this meant in a practical sense was that friends had to come to me. They had to do the initial work because I both didn’t know how and was afraid to try. I’m sure no one likes rejection, but I really couldn’t handle it, especially not from girls and women. And so I found myself as friends only with the people who seemed to innately know these secrets of friendship that I am just now becoming conscious of as a woman approaching thirty.
Most of the time, you have to try to get to know people
Maybe this sounds obvious to you, but it was far from obvious to me. For many of my child and teen years, I took dance classes at one particular studio, but I never made any real friends there. Many of the girls went to the same schools and came in with those outside friendships, and I always felt a little left behind. Add to that the fact that dance classes aren’t prime opportunities for meaningful interaction. You’re not going to stumble upon a meaningful similarity or shared experience (outside of both taking dance classes, which at that point, is meaningless).
Not once in my many years of dance classes did I approach a girl to ask her how her day had been, what she’d done at school, or whether or not she had anything planned over the weekend that she was looking forward to. I always had this feeling that the girls weren’t interested in me, or perhaps didn’t like me, but the truth was, I never did anything that…