Sometimes I wonder if there is some sort of gene I am lacking which enables people to effortlessly make friends. Sometimes I feel like I am on the outside looking in – FaceBook and Twitter can be so blooming cruel sometimes 🙂
I was pretty introvert growing up but I know that I have never suffered from the kind of social anxiety that some people seem to be affected by. I started at the London College of Printing, Sussex University and City University on my own without knowing another soul and made friendships each time – some of which have lasted the course and some not so much sadly. I also went on holiday to Australia on my own in 2005 and I enjoyed meeting new people on my (organised) trek up the East Coast. I am perfectly happy in my own company but sometimes that is not enough and those are the moments that you look around and wonder what sort of friend you are and what you have done in your life to feel so out of so many loops.
When I had my first baby I found the baby & bump groups to be a godsend – I didn’t have too much trouble meeting new people and making friends. I don’t think I would have any friends where I live now if I didn’t have children. But people move on and sometimes FaceBook is not enough. Having said that I do have a handful of people I’ve met in the last 5 year who I consider to be best friends now but sometimes it is hard to forge an unbreakable bond when your interactions mostly take place at Soft Play with random and regular interruptions for toilet breaks, boo boo kisses and refereeing…
I guess a lot of my problems stem from the fact that I feel I am better one-on-one with people than socialising in a big group. I don’t have a big enough personality to make myself heard in a crowd and I tend to find myself on the sidelines. I think this is why I never really pushed myself to make it in a journalistic career because ‘media types’ are loud and pushy and ambitious and I lack those traits. I remember when I was a teenager a close friend dubbed me ‘Mingle’ in an ironic way because she was a lot more of a social butterfly than me!
A lot of the people I consider to be my lifelong best friends now live great distances away from me – some don’t have partners and children. I find myself with much more intimate knowledge of the lives of mere acquaintances from the social media than I do with these people with whom I have shared the funniest, most intimate, happiest and saddest moments. And I forget the birthdays a lot which I know is crap and it breaks my heart to think that they might assume I don’t care.
Maybe its not just the birthdays, maybe I am just rubbish at all the little gestures – the effort, the extra mile – that make up peoples’ minds about wanting you as a part of their inner circle. I admit that I have fallen short.
And how do you balance friendships once you have children with being there for your partner? Even if you did have the spare £20-£30 quid a week to pay for babysitters… Not to mention the fact that life with little children seems to sap away so many things that make you who you are – or who you were before they came along.
Blogging has brought me new ‘cyber’ friends – I feel like there is a group of people out there who are sharing similar experiences – with their children, with the experience of having life rail-roaded by the blogging process – one of those hobbies that takes over! But I am scared silly about what will happen when I meet some of these people from this world in real life in June when I attend BritMums Live.
Is it too late for me to be a better friend?