When my husband and I moved, we were excited and motivated to jump right into a new social scene. Back home, we went out several times a week, hosted dinner parties, even had a monthly game night. Call it naïveté or plain wishful thinking, I expected the invites and group texts to roll in as soon as we unpacked.
I joined three new workout classes, met with friends of friends from home, networked through cousins and college roommates, striking up a conversation with anyone who seemed friendly.
People were, in general, friendly, but never ventured past the basic pleasantries. I built myself a wide circle of nice acquaintances. People I would run into at the grocery store or at a charity function, sharing the acceptable smile-nod-hello recognition.
I was not their people, I was not in their sorority, I did not go to their high school, our parents were not friends. I was unknown and unnecessary. They had their friends and were not particularly interested in any additions.
Was it time to download BumbleBFF? Put myself out there to strangers as a lonely friendless woman just looking for someone to happy hour with? No, I couldn’t do it. I was not going to match on an app with my next girl friends. It had to be organic and easy, that’s what friendship’s all about, right?
In a frustrated act of self-pity, I texted my best friend from college for help.
No one here likes me, I don’t like anyone here. That’s it, we’re moving.
Before I dug further down the rabbit hole, she stopped me.
Why do you care so much about making friends? Is it really about being lonely or being accepted?
Well.. come to think about, I wasn’t lonely at all. I have an amazing husband who I love spending time with. I see my family all the time (maybe too much). I travel often and have really good friends all over the world who I talk to daily.
Released from the pressure of acceptance, I used my energy to focus on myself. Improving my skill sets for work, developing my side hustle, training for a half marathon, reading, learning new recipes, spending time with the people I love. All the energy I had wasted on feeling sorry for myself was now moving me forward instead of holding me back.
I still see the friendly faces and I still smile-nod-hello, but I’m no longer anxious about turning every acquaintance into a friend. I continue to work on my being the best version of myself and letting my ambitions drive me.
Now, I have my routine in my new city. I have my successful career. I have my go-to restaurants. I have my favorite boutiques. I have my used bookstore. I have my YMCA. I have my peace and my comfort.
It’s from this place of security and confidence I have found my people.
By Sophie Bauer