In my youth, I loved to explore new things, meet new friends, and never seemed to be afraid of anything. I had always welcomed change as if it’s as easy as changing one’s clothes several times in a day. I looked forward to meeting new people and would actually go out of my way to meet new friends. In fact, when I was in college, my motivation for coming to school was to be with my friends and meet new people instead of learning in class.
Recently, however, I realized that I had started to succumb to withdrawal to a certain extent. When my mother died, I decided that it would be better for my children and myself to move away; when my relationship with my in-laws went bad, again, I have decided to live in an area where I knew only one person; when some of my close friends moved away or the communication between us had ceased for some reason, I had also stopped going out and/or making new friends; and when some of my relatives could not grant my requests for some reason or would break a promise, I would sulk and stay away from them for a certain period. And I had often used my home-based job(s) and the fact that I am a full-time homemaker without a helper as an excuse for my self-exile.
Despite the hundreds of friends that I have, as revealed by some social networking sites, there were just a handful of them that I communicate with on a somewhat regular basis, i.e., every few weeks or so. Moreover, as I check my phonebook, there were just about 30 people listed in it and about half of them were actually service providers and clients or merely acquaintances. On the contrary, in the past, my phone contacts never went below 150 and I personally knew almost all of them! (I know, losing cellphones is not an excuse to not even try to get in touch with my old friends.)
What happened then to the sociable me? What happened to my social skills? I was supposed to be an expert at communications, at building relationships, being a graduate of Public Relations and having practiced the profession for several years, not to mention I had always been at the forefront of various activities in the different organizations I had joined in the past. Sure, it’s easy for me to talk to someone when it’s required by my job, but beyond that, I now find it difficult to build new (and lasting) friendships somehow. I suddenly find myself surrounded with half-built walls, if not bridges in need of serious repair. I wonder if the same thing’s happening to my old friends, so they have stopped communicating with me, or may be the fault’s entirely mine.
Everyday, especially on a weekday, I talk to only three to five persons on an average–my husband, my two very young daughters, my friend/churchmate/fellow teacher and blogger/business partner (right, she’s everything all rolled into one!), and some service provider/client/vendor. I pray daily that God would bless me and make me a blessing to others, that He would enlarge my territory (The Prayer of Jabez), yet I do not even dare go out of my comfort zone to seek people to bless. I always pray that I would find favor in the eyes of every person I meet, yet I refuse to meet people. In short, I ask so many things from God, yet I do not allow Him the opportunity to grant them. So what do I do?
I suppose I have to acknowledge the fact that things may have changed, but I know for sure that I just have to give it a try. Since most of my friends are on Facebook, I’ve decided to utilize it to get in touch with them. Instead of just glancing at or liking my friends’ posts on FB without much ado, I started looking up their pages and tried to find out what they’re really going through. I’ve noticed that many of them are not in the best days of their lives, i.e., someone in their family’s sick or had died, they had broken up with their boy/girl friends of several years, a marriage had hit rock bottom, some are struggling to earn a living or looking for a new job, and so on. (All negative, huh?) But the things is, I’ve been through all those things, so the question for me now is: Why am I not doing anything to reach out to them? Why am I not even trying to make them feel better or share something with them that I have?
On the other hand, since I have not really communicated with these friends (and relatives) for a long time, the task is rather daunting. As I started sending personal messages to a few of them, I discovered that about 80% of the messages in my inbox were dated 7-24 months ago! Worse, those emails revealed hanging threads, where a question was posed and I was supposed to be the next person to say something, but for some reason, I was unable to respond. I guess an apology was the best way to get things back on track.
It was amazing that many of them had responded warmly, even immediately, as if the last time we talked was just yesterday and not months or years ago! As I exchanged warm regards with them, I remembered the good times I had with them, too. Indeed, “friendship warms the heart”. There were some who have not responded (yet) while others still have responded with very short replies as if they’re just trying to be polite. Perhaps they’re wondering why I would suddenly show up after a long silence? Nevertheless, knowing that I have finally taken the first step makes me feel good. After all, it’s like I’m being friends again with my own self, doing me a favor, and not the other way around. (And I imagine my eldest brother reiterating to me for the nth time to “never burn the bridge no matter how deep the person had hurt or offended you”, while my late mother nods in agreement.)
I think I shall continue with this activity and send a message to at least two persons in my FB circle in a day. That should not be a big task, especially that I’m not talking to strangers at all. Many of them were my very good friends at some point in time, and some are still my friends to this day (somehow, I just knew that). Many were also acquaintances, but I guess it’s time that I get to know them better, too. After all, no man is an island and I do need my sisters (look up my post, “Sisters“). Besides, I can’t wait to see God enlarging my territory!
P.S. Tonight, after more than a decade, I’ll have an old friend sleep over at my place again. And, yes, my girls and I are excited! 🙂
- The Importance of Friendships (everydayhealth.com)
- Why It’s Better to be a Blue Girl and Have No Friends (shoutthemodmusical.wordpress.com)