Somebody new has started coming to the messy play class I attend with Benjamin each week. Her son is only a few months older than Benjamin and she has daughters who are the same ages as Cameron and Carly. I know all this because we sat and spoke for a little while during the class today. However, I would never have had the confidence to strike up the conversation myself. I am always the person to wait for somebody else to speak first, to make the first move. Pair this with the fact that I have what is commonly referred to as ‘resting bitch face’ (yes, totally an actual thing), and it’s really no wonder I find it hard making friends as an adult.
The thing is, from the outside, you would probably assume that I am an outgoing person. I run my local blogging network, the Bournemouth Bloggers, and this involves talking to new people on a regular basis but here’s the big secret, I am confident right up until I meet people in public and then I really struggle. I did an A Level in Theatre Studies and I generally attempt to ‘fake it until I make it’ when it comes to these things. I have actually made some close friends from the network in the last year and it has made me feel a lot more secure, knowing that there are people around me who know how much I worry about the events behind the scenes.
I think a lot of it is to do with my anxiety. I was diagnosed as having generalised anxiety disorder around a year ago and it has made me realise that a lot of the worries and fears I have are down to this and to a certain extent I can’t help how I feel, although I am attempting to work on it during my Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions.
I think one of the reasons I am so scared about reaching out and putting myself on the line is I have been hurt in the past. One of my closest friends, somebody who I had known for many years, since I was a child and who had been there through a lot of my big life events including the birth of one of my children, cut me out of her life for a reason I am not aware of. As far as I know, nothing had happened in the lead-up to this event and it really, really hurt me to know that our friendship didn’t even mean enough to her to talk to me about why she no longer wanted to be friends. I have written about this in the past and don’t wish to dwell on it too much now, but it is always there in the back of my mind, making me scared to open up to new people.
I have been feeling really sensitive lately about people I considered friends who have not seemed committed in the relationship any longer and it has made all those old emotions come rushing back. Did I read the signs wrong? Did I come on too strong? Did I do something to upset them or was I not there for them enough? I recently asked on my Instagram stories whether other people were ever worried that people didn’t actually like them and the feedback was so interesting. I had a lot of messages from other people saying they felt exactly the same. Some of these people said they had anxiety as well, but some didn’t have a history of mental illness and were still feeling this fear. It was comforting to know that I am not alone in feeling this way, but a little sad to know that so many of us are out there worrying about others liking us.
A quick google search on loneliness in younger people and advice on how to make friends as an adult reinforces this. There are lots of people feeling the same way, and it is good to know that it is normal to be awkward and unsure about attempting new friendships at this stage of your life.
I’m going to wrap up what seems to be a bit of a brain dump post, but it’s been good to get it all out. The thing is, I want to make new friends. Being a mum can be lonely, especially when you work from home and your other mum friends are all back at work during the day. I am going to try and talk to the mum at the messy play session next week. The worst that can happen is she thinks I am a weirdo (she would find that out being friends with me anyway), and who knows, maybe it could be the start of a beautiful friendship… You’ll never know unless you try.