Wilbur was merely suffering the doubts and fears that often go with finding a new friend. (from Charlotte’s Web by E B White)
I’m an introvert. Shy, really. I’ve never thought of myself as being particularly good at making new friends, and a luxury of growing up and going to college in the same town is not having to make a lot of new friends. Or, rather, not needing to make new friends. I made new friends often throughout my life, but I never needed to because I always had friends. This was both a strength–it enabled me not to be needy or anxious while getting to know new people–and a hindrance–in college, while all of the other new freshman were scrambling to make friends, I was comfortable only making a few. More than that, though, I never really cultivated a talent for getting to know people. I never figured out exactly how that worked, because it always felt like my relationships with people developed almost by accident.
So, imagine the anxiety I felt about moving to a new place where I would not have my comfortable system of relationships to rely on. I was superbly blessed that two couples I was friends with in Abilene also moved to Boston last summer, so I didn’t have to start completely from scratch. But I’ve been making new friends at school, too, and it’s been a really interesting experience for me. Making new friends is a sort of dance. It’s a series of negotiations and adjustments in which you try to figure out how to be yourself while also avoiding anything that will make you seem strange or ridiculous or childish or like one of those people. You doubt the things you say and do, and fear that you’ll make the wrong impression. And you don’t know about the people you’re making friends with.
But in the midst of that, there’s also something very special in those early moments in a friendship, when you make real, meaningful connections with another human being. Something deeply life-affirming. This week, I’m especially thankful for those early moments, those first glimmers of relationship. And I’m cherishing the memories of other first moments gone by, and the relationships that came from them.