Saturday, September 13, 2014

Struggles and Lessons Learned Through Making Friends

Hey There!

Guess what, y'all....I've finally finished my fireplace that I've mentioned, I don't know....a hundred times.  I have been working on it for a year....I'm so excited that it's all done.  How sad is that....a whole year...anyways, I'll have a post about that for you pretty soon.  (See the fireplace here) I wanted to take pictures of it today, but it has been dreary and rainy all day and the light wasn't good enough to get any decent pictures....instead I thought I would talk about something that has been on my mind lately....The art of making friends...I'm going to get a little deep and pretty personal.  Be forewarned.

I'll be the first to admit, I was somewhat of an ugly duckling.  I was pretty cute (I think) when I was really little...and then...I don't know what happened... part of the story has to do with my somewhat traumatic childhood.  Wish I could share that story with you guys, but you know....it's not just my story and I'd hate to share things that others involved wouldn't want me to....it's too bad, though, because it's a good one ;).  Let's just say that I was left with a very low self esteem and self worth.  It was kind of pitiful actually.  

I'm the one on the left, with my mom and my sister.

with my Aunt


And oh this pitiful creature in blue is, yes...myself along with my two sisters. 


I had sisters growing up.  I also had a step sister that isn't pictured here, but she was raised in the same house as my sisters and I, so there were four girls.  My first sister, my step sister and I were all within three years of each other, so for a long time they were my friends.  I didn't need to find any others...and when I did, they were usually very shallow friendships and with some questionable characters, I recall.  I can remember my "best friend" in the fourth grade stabbing me in the leg with a pencil....for no reason....just because she felt like it...and I didn't do anything about it.  Low self worth.  
We moved constantly during my childhood.  I think we moved on an average of every single year.  Two times we lived somewhere for two years and then other times we lived places for only six months.  So as I went on, I made very shallow friendships, and then my sisters were the only constant.  It went on like that until high school (when we finally stayed one place for four years)....I had one dear sweet friend in high school.  She was the one who introduced me to my faith, my husband, and absolutely changed my life, to which I am forever thankful :) She will always hold a place in my heart and my life  



She graduated early from high school and went away (far far away) to college, got married and stayed out west. And although we visit each other here and there, we aren't really in each other's lives anymore.  Throughout high school I felt like my whole identity was "Sacha's Friend" so when she left, I had to try and find friends on my own. It was really hard for me when she moved away.  This was also the time when my VERY best friend (my sister Megan, my sister just under me pictured above) passed away... (a whole other story).  Now two very huge crutches in my life, when it came to friendship, were all of the sudden gone.   All I ever knew was how to make a very superficial "acquaintance" type of friend....and then I would get my feelings hurt so badly when they wouldn't reach out to me to do things....or leave me out of things.  

This continued into my adult years.  I always felt as though I had no friends.  Sure I knew a ton of people, and I think most people liked me well enough (I guess)...but I always had this feeling that people didn't like my personality, or that I just plain didn't have one.  I never reached out to others, but always got my feelings hurt when nobody would reach out to me.  I guess I was just afraid and intimidated by other women.  Too afraid of how I might be judged to let the real me shine through.  Also, I might add, confidence is the most attractive thing to people, and I had none of it.  The sad thing is, that I know that there are so many women out there that feel the same way.  People have different ways of covering their insecurities and getting along, all the while feeling less than on the inside....and this is the reason I'm sharing this story.  

I managed to make another good friend after we both left our mutual job at the same time...and stayed in touch.  She has been one of my very best friends for the last 13 years. I know I said I felt like I had no friends, but I can't count her out!  She has seen me though some major major things :)  


We weren't super great friends at the very get go.  We got along great, but the real friendship took time to blossom.  One of the important things she has taught me is that deep friendships aren't made over night.  You have to let things take their natural course and grow slowly.  I could never imagine being as at ease with a friend as I am with her....that only comes with time and investment...something I knew nothing about.  

Although I did have one very good friend, I still felt like people in general didn't like me.  I didn't have a "group of girls" like I see in so many people's social media, etc., and I had always wanted that.  I would get really down on myself about it. I have literally thrown birthday parties for myself where nobody would show up....I'm not making this stuff up, Y'all.  I would think that "acquaintances" were pretty good friends and the other person would be like...huh?  I don't really know you that well....it made for a lot of awkwardness.

  I am at heart a super super super extroverted person.  I am at my happiest when I am socializing....and my dream would be a neighborhood where all of the houses back up to each other (think backyardigans) and they were all filled with my best friends and family....and we would take walks together and hang out at night after the kids are in bed....my heaven. I never get tired of "people."  

It wasn't until I was sitting in church one day and the lesson was on this talk by Dieter F. Uchtdorf. (really...follow the link and go read it....seriously) The lesson was all about judging others....and he says, simply "Stop it!" ...I was really turning inward while listening to this lesson, trying to think of how I could apply it to myself.  I kept coming up blank because I really don't judge others.  It's always something I've thought of as a virtue of mine, I'm not judgmental, I like everybody.....then I thought, if only others would stop judging me...and then it hit me, BAM, like a ton of bricks!  I AM judging others, by assuming that they are judging me (getting deep here...).  Why must I keep such a negative image of myself in my mind that I refuse to give others the benefit of doubt that they aren't thinking bad things about me?  We do this way way way too much ladies.  It was such a revelation.  After said revelation had struck me, a lady in the class made a comment...and let me tell you, this changed my life forever.  She said that even though she may have this fault or that fault, her friends and sisters in our church "love her anyway."  It was such a simple thing to say, but it struck me like a lightning bolt (which, looking back, was clearly the holy spirit enlightening me).  I suddenly realized that people don't have to like every little tiny thing about me....and that's OK!  I'm not perfect and neither is anybody else.  I thought about how I felt about people that I really admired.  Are there things about them that get on my nerves...sure!  Do I still love and admire them....absolutely!  I thought about how I felt about people I hardly thought of....do I still love and admire them?  Why yes!  If I felt that way about others, then they must feel the same way about me.  I don't have to be perfect or even un-annoying for people to love me! I just have to be me and not afraid of friendship. 

 From that day forward I have been a different person.  I have no issue making friends.  Some of them come and go, some stay. Some have started to grow into really deep, long lasting, meaningful friendships.  I realized that you have to take responsibility for the life you want to have and take action to make it so.  If I want to hang out with someone, well....then I had better ask them!  You can't expect other people to think of you first, you have to reach out to them.  The best is when you find someone who also "gets it" and then they do reach out to you back.  You just can't sit and wait for it.  Never assume that people don't like you, or that you aren't even noteworthy enough for them to take notice and seek you out.  It simply isn't the case.  People generally are just into their own thing.  If they aren't seeking you out, it's because they are busy thinking about what they've already got going on....which has nothing to do with you!  

We all need to just stop trying to guess what other people have going on in their minds....and be okay with the fact that they typically aren't thinking about you.....oooor.....that it might even be something negative about you....heck I think critical things about people I love, value and cherish all of the time.....and I know you all do it too, admit it...  I wouldn't say those things out loud, of course.  But, guess what... it doesn't matter, because I love them anyway!  

I'm happy to report that I now have so many friends that I find it hard to maintain a relationship with them all because I don't physically have the time.  I have been freed from this life long issue of mine and I hope this post finds it's way to others that may benefit from this advice like I have.  

Some of  my friends!!!!



This was for my birthday...my good friend threw me a birthday brunch :)



Love to you all
Anna 

Shared with: 
sits girls


17 comments:

  1. This is such a great post! Spoke to what I have been struggling with! I move so often that its really hard to develop those deeper friendships that I crave! And it doesn't help that I am terrible at reaching out to people!

    I am going to try letting go of my worry and just try!

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    1. awesome! That's right...just pick somebody you like and make a date, easy as that! There's no need to stress over it. Good luck!

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  2. thanks, Anna! You have helped me a lot today. In tears.

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  3. What a great post! It is so true. I struggle with always thinking I said the wrong thing and I really shouldn't. Even if I did say the wrong thing most people don't remember it. Friends are awesome and we need them in every stage of our lives :)

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  4. Dear, dear Anna. I LOVE YOU so much! First of all, you look ADORABLE to me in your kid pictures! Second, I am so sorry I didn't keep in touch better when I left for college. Third, I still count you as one of my bestest best friends for my whole, whole life. Also, I watched the Trek video the other day...Nick made it digital. It brought back so many memories and just that feeeeling of being with you. I miss you tons. Do you want me to send you a copy DVD? I love you friend. Miss you.

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  5. Love it! So real and so true! While I do have several truly good friends, I was never seeing any of them! I've made a point of being intentional and now I see them much more and our friendships are continuing to grow!!

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  6. That's the way I felt all through high school. It wasn't until after I graduated and realized that all the friends I had in High School were not my friends anymore that I realized I need to start over and only keep those who really mean something to me and I to them. I also made more of an effort to make new friends and come out of my shell. Though I don't have that many close friends right now, I have a handful of awesome ones and that's what really counts! Love love this post!

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  7. I am practically in tears over this entire post. My experiences with friendships are very similar to yours. I pretty much have a miserable time making real friends. I'm social and nice and funny (I think!) and I make fast acquaintances with just about everyone I meet, but I never know how to make them blossom into true friendships. This was fine before I moved, because I had my few close friends nearby. Now I'm hours away from everyone I know, and for 2 years basically I've gone without friends. Anyway, your post gives me so much hope that maybe I can really reach out and find a group of ladies around here that can become my people. I really need it.

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  8. Makes me realize how lucky I am to have the girlfriend that I do. The 4 of us are family and I know that I can count on them no matter what.

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  9. Anna- I love that talk! Definitely one of my favorites. I really identify with what you've written here. I was pretty geeky growing up but always had my geeky friends. Still, I always care more about other people than they do about me. Always. I am finally learning to open up to different types of people to find true friendship- they don't have to be my age, or in the same life situation. I would say some of my better friends are old enough to be my mom! I'm glad you are finding good friendships too.

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  10. This is such a great post. Friends are really important in life and I think as long as you have good true friends you can almost face anything life brings you.

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  11. Love the old family pics! And I have the same problem with you. I don't judge people but I judge them for judging me, without really knowing if they do or not. And even if they did, I'm not to judge them. Thank you for the post, it really spoke to me.

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  12. I LOVE the old photos! You are so lucky to have such good friends. :)

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  13. I think friendship can be complicated. I know that I have a few good friends from high school now but so many others I haven't kept in touch with. I love that talk by President Uchtdorf. I think he has so much insight and we do sometimes unknowingly make judgments of others all the time (sometimes it is knowingly too). Thanks for such a vulnerable post!!

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  15. I can relate to so much of what you wrote. I've never had loads of friends but the few I do have now took a while to find, and they are amazing. I'm glad you had your revelation and have found great friends too.
    Thank you so much for sharing at Project Inspire{d}!

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