It isn’t the cold that is the worst part. It’s the grey. It’s three PM and I haven’t seen the sun all day. I saw it for a fleeting moment yesterday morning, but it’s not out today, and it may not be out tomorrow, either.
The gloominess of this New York Winter reminds me I have to be my own light, and connect with the light of the living beings around me.
It makes me think a lot about friendship.
I’ve found it difficult to make friends as an adult, and I’m not alone in this. Partly, it’s hard because of jobs, responsibilities, time constraints, etc…
But it’s also hard because I have to shine brightly, authentically, to have even a hope of attracting like-minded individuals, let alone someone whose company I enjoy enough to call “friend.”
I feel scared sometimes, and afraid of being my authentic self. The fear of judgement, of rejection, runs deep and making new friends demands that I put myself out there.
Because if I put my “representative” out there, a term I borrow from Glennon Doyle, meaning my fake self, all I can expect to receive are shallow friendships. If I hide behind a false mask, all I see are other people behind their masks.
I owe it to myself to uncover who I really am, and bare it to the world. People will reject me, as is their right. People will judge me, as is their right. But there are also people who will accept me, and who have positive judgments about me. They look at my weird self and think, “yeah, she’s good.”
This friendship-making process takes time, and I am learning to be patient. I am learning not only to be brave and to stand in my truth, and “live out loud” as my therapist calls it, but I am also learning to allow others their God-given right to stay, or to go. I am learning to be okay whether people decide to stay and explore friendship with me, or to swerve me unconditionally. After all, it’s a free country.
Community in 2021 is global, but it will always be local, too. I am beyond thankful for my friends who are living in other places… but this sun-less, dreary New York winter has made me realize the urgency and necessity of having friends here, and now. I am allowing myself to realize that I need friends close by that can hold my hand, or give me a hug, or share a meal with me.
Moving to New York took a certain amount of bravery. But opening the doors to my heart, letting my real self out and letting other people in, is showing me that I must be brave enough to be authentically me. And I must be open enough to let others be themselves, as well.
For example, there have been people here in New York that I don’t want to be friends with. And there are people that don’t want to be friends with me. It’s not personal, I remind myself. We are all doing the best we can. We are all just doing the best we can.
There’s nothing like the friendships forged in middle school and high school, and even college. We have so many memories together: classes, dormitories, teachers, hometown football games… We got the chance to see each other grow, and now we laugh about how things change, and how things stay the same.
Then there are the friends we make later in life. These are the people who never knew us “way back when,” who are meeting us just as we are, here and now. These are the people who don’t know our families, our hometowns, or anything other than who and what we are now.
As an adult, it is up to me to represent myself in a way that honors my inner truth, my inner being. Now is the time to say, “This is who I am. Who are you?” It’s time to be vulnerable with others, and to face rejection, and if I’m lucky, to feel the acceptance of a warm embrace.
How has it been for you, making friends? How have you seen your friendships change as you get older? How do you make friends now? Let me know in the comments.