Finding My Belonging

I think it’s time for another Sluiter Nation Recruit.

This week I bring you Brittany of Mommy Words.

I don’t even know how I met Brittany, to be honest.  She just seems to be someone that was always in my twitter stream, always in my facebook newsfeed (well, her blog). Her cute little smile pops up at just the right time.

Her blog is a fun mix of personal stories, strong opinions, and awesome DIY tutorials.

Seriously, Brittany is the full package!

I am so honored that she is here today sharing such a close subject…finding friends.

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I watch my children when they meet someone new.  I see the spark of excitement and the moment of nervous energy that vanishes the minute they find the smallest similarity with this future friend.  Without hesitation, they approach and make an introduction.   They are so young.  They have no fear of being rejected or ignored.  It only takes one shared interest and they are off with a new friend.  I am always impressed and proud and wishing it was still so easy to fit in anywhere.

I remember my childhood and all of the friends I had over the years.  We moved quite a bit.  I introduced myself many times.  I had no trouble fitting in somewhere.  I loved theater and soccer, so I had an easy team or cast to join.  It was simple to belong. Even aside from organized activities I was lucky.  I knew who I was and I had no trouble finding my people.  I kept myself busy belonging and along the way I made a few very close friends. Those few friends were the most important part of my life.  I still have them.  But they are far away.

By college I knew that I was different than the girl of just a few years before.  Even then it scared me.  It is so easy to belong when you are joining groups and participating in activities.  It’s much harder (at least for me) to find a best friend.

‘m a best friend kind of girl.  Somehow, over the years, I went from being fine with being good friends with lots of people to needing deep friendship.  I tend to share a lot of myself and want friends who aren’t afraid to talk about the good and the bad.  Laughter and tears and hugs and a deep understanding.  That’s what I crave.

Over the years I have found very close friends.  When I have one, I am happy.  I feel good.  I belong.  When I don’t I feel lost.  I feel afraid.  I feel lonely, even in a crowd of wonderful people.  Maybe one of them could be my friend?

I wouldn’t know because for the last few years I haven’t tried.  I worked 80 hours a week when I graduated from college to pay off my tuition.  My friendships suffered, and I wasn’t making any new friends sitting at my desk while the rest of the 20 somethings I knew socialized.  When I got pregnant with my 2nd child, I left my job.  I thought surely it would be a cinch to bond with other mommies.  You know, like we would all walk on the playground and bond instantly because we all had offspring.  Yeah, I thought that.  I never found the right moment to dive into really meaningful stuff so I tried my best to become besties over discussions of diapers and dinnertime.  It didn’t work.

When I had my second miscarriage I felt like there was no one I could talk to.  None of my old school best friends have kids.  I grew up in New York and the first of my really good friends is getting married this summer.  I just didn’t know how to share my loss.  So I went online.  I found a wonderful group of women on a pregnancy loss board.  Months later, I started my blog.  I started sharing my life with strangers and I began to feel whole again.  I shared my heart and I was blessed. Because in time they, no YOU, were not strangers.  You are friends. My online friends who I hug the living daylights out of when I see you, because you saved my life.  Because you love me.  And I love you.

Still, my blog tricked me.

I forgot about my real life and I need to get out there and be a friend.  I need an offline bestie to find where I belong.  I need to find a real life sidekick chick.  She must be out there.  I am scared, but I watch my kids and I know that the heart of a child is inside of us.  We all want to find where we belong.  It may be a bit more complicated as big ol’ grownups, but it is certainly possible.  The good thing is, I still know who I am.  I like myself.  I love my family.  I have all of your support.  I know I can do this.  I just need to introduce myself, start talking and steer it away from bowel movements and pre-school for long enough to start a conversation between two women.  And see where it goes.

Wouldn’t it be nice and easy for us online girls if we could go all dating site style for this?

Gal Seeking Gal:  34 year old woman seeking new best friend.  Big fan of wine.  Huge fan of long conversations about everything from politics to personal life to parenting. I get deep yo! Loves to read great books only slightly more than romance novels.  Slightly obsessed with DIY projects, power tools and throwing parties.  I can’t sew.  I want to learn.  I’ve got a blog so sometimes I talk about it.  I’m okay if you tell me to shut up sometimes.  I like to keep it honest.  In the spirit of honesty, sometimes I cry when I am talking because I get so upset or I am so moved.  I’m okay, it’s just the drama in me.  I am liberal. I’m not a fan of handguns.  You can be conservative and have a gun and we can be besties, I just thought you should know because here in the south that really bothers some people. I have three kids and they rock my world. Sometimes I want to talk about them and sometimes I need to talk about anything else. I know the words to every song in hundreds of musicals.  If you do too the rest might not matter.

Sadly, I fear this will not work. So…

I’m going to make an effort.  I’m going to bury my fear and step out of my shell.  I’m going to find a friend close to my ‘hood.  Maybe on the playground.  Who knows? Am I the only one who finds it incredibly hard to find a kindred spirit as a grown up? Am I the only gal who longs for one?

I am really just trying to find where I belong.

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About Katie Sluiter

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a high school English teacher, college adjunct instructor, freelance writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. I’ve been so very fortunate in my online world to have many people I count as friends. People I can talk to, confide in, trust.

    In my offline world, friends have come and gone. The number of friends on my Facebook friend list is deceiving. I’m lucky if I can count 10% of them as true friends. But true friends I do have -they all just live so far away! But I’ve been lucky the past 2 years – I met a wonderful friend, a mother of 2 boys (both of which are close in age to mine) who lives just down the road, who doesn’t mind taking time out of her busy life to meet once a week, where we talk about everything.

    I hope you find that friend too, Brittany, because you so deserve it.

    • I/m so lucky to have you as a friend Alison. I have many friends too and I know I am lucky. I just want to find that same neighborhood friend you have!

  2. Thank you so much for recruiting me! I don’t remember how we found each other either but I am so glad we did! Now to find a way to meet you. I am lucky in friendships both online and in my life, just feeling a real lack of local love these days. It helps to write it out and commit to making a change!

  3. Ditto to everything you said. Reads like it was coming out of my own head. I hope you find what you’re looking for.

    • Thanks Jaime! Me too. It’s hard being a grown up in a town you didn’t grow up in :) So many people already have their friends!

  4. ME TOO!!! I haven’t had a best friend since college and it’s really starting to take its toll. What’s worse is that my husband keeps trying to “set me up” with his friends’ wives trying so hard to help. He knows I need someone to confide in and be silly with and call when I’ve had a good or bad day. He is happy to be that person, but he knows I need someone else, too.

    Most women I come in contact with seem to have enough friends already and aren’t looking for a best friend. So they become acquaintances and OK friends. But I need more.

    And when you do seek them out, what do you say? I’ve always felt awkward every time I meet a new woman thinking, “maybe this is the one! I really like her!” But then I know she’s probably not looking for more, so we say goodbye and I never hear back. I never want to be too clingy but I know I need to make an effort.

    It really is like dating. Which I was never good at.

    I SO wish there was a dating style site like this…We should start one!! I’d be willing to bet there are many more of us out there :)

    • Oh the friends’ wives. I get it. Too much. And I totally get the girls you meet already having their group. Been there. Done that. Too many times! We will find people! It might just take some time!

  5. Brittany, I feel the same way and wrote about it recently myself. Since then, I’m trying to put myself out there and meet people. It is like dating and I feel awkward and weird, but I’ve realized it’s what I have to do if I want to make friends.

    • KeAnne – what is the link to your post? I would LOVE to read it! It’s hard to get out there but I am doing it too. Slowly but surely I know the awkwardness will go away. Right?

  6. Oh, how I adore and relate to this post. This is part of why I turned to the online world. I was feeling so very alone in real life. I love your idea for a personal friend ad. I would totally call you up. :)

  7. I know exactly how you feel! My old best friend and I broke up almost two years ago now and it was really difficult for me. It really is like losing a boyfriend. Maybe even more difficult because she and I were closer than I have ever been with any guy because I told her things I never told any of my boyfriends. And ever since then I’ve been looking for someone to take her place, but what do I say? Where do I go? When I was in school everyone was too young because I was a returning student. In the workplace everyone is either too old (horrible of me to say, but it’s true) or a guy. I don’t feel like I fit in with my online friends because I’m not a “mommy blogger” since I don’t have kids. When I do put myself out there and get shot down for whatever reason, or worse, ignored, the rejection hurts so badly I just give up. Why is it that it’s so much easier to meet a guy than it is to make a new friend?

  8. Yeah, I feel the same way. I’m not married or have kids, but I graduated college so I’m out of the partying all the time phase. I stayed in my college city, but a lot of my college friends have moved away. My best friends from home are my FOREVER girls, but they live in Boston, 1000+ miles away :( It’s a tough time!!

  9. It is so challenging to find grown up friends, especially as a mom. I love your Gal seeking Gal pitch. I think this could make for a fun blog series. Everyone pitches themselves and maybe their general area and maybe some online besties could become real life besties too.

    Great post!

  10. Brittany, this is a fantastic piece. You are not the only one feeling this way, which is why I was so happy to get together the other night for wine and good conversation! I tell my husband all the time I want closer friends, friends I can talk to about all the deep stuff, and he’s all, “Well, most people just want to talk about pleasant things.” Which is great, but some of us also need that (not to sound all Meredith Grey) *person* to talk to about the deep stuff.

    It’s so much harder as an adult. Even making the time for those kind of friendships when you’re married w/kids is difficult.