I Found My People*

Nine years ago I wrote a post about girlfriends… and how I felt like I was still searching for a group where I fit in. I vividly remember the night that I wrote it–I was feeling lonely and didn’t feel like I really had anyone nearby I could call up and talk to or go out with. It was shortly after we moved to a new city, and I knew very few people where we lived. I opened up about my feelings, and it seemed to resonate with a lot of people. It’s one of the posts that has been searched and read most often, and I received a ton of comments and messages from other women who felt much like I did then.

It’s been nine years, and I finally stopped moving. I’m happy to report that we’re still here, and I finally found my people.

The past year or so has been amazing. My word for 2017 was “Brave” and I focused a lot of energy on being brave with my friendships. I tried to stop focusing so much on fitting into what I thought other people expected or wanted from me, and adopted a “this is just me” attitude instead. It was liberating. I just decided to be unapologetically me, step outside of my comfort zone a bit and see what happened.

Over the past two years, I’ve been able to reconnect with my childhood girlfriends from up north. I was added into a Facebook messenger thread for a Christmas gift exchange, and to be totally honest, I was so shocked and touched to be invited to participate. At the time I had lost touch with many of them, and it had been years since we had seen each other. Well, two gift exchanges and tens of thousands of messages later, that thread is still going. I feel like I’ve been allowed back into this incredible circle of women, and while I can’t make up for the years lost, I’m just so happy to be reunited again. They are honestly some of the best people I’ve ever met, and have always accepted me just as I am. Even if we all now live far apart, I feel pretty dang lucky to know them.

I’ve also really been able to get to know some women here in my church community. Over the years we’ve lived here, casual “hellos” at church have blossomed into park playdates, late night food and gab fests around dining room tables, “Ladies Night” dinners out, shoulders to cry on and the people we celebrate our lives with. They have seen me through some of the highest highs and lowest lows of my life these past few years–one friend in particular was a lifeline for me when I was quietly struggling through Post Partum Anxiety for the year after P’s birth. We can’t always get together often as life is busy and we all live in different neighborhoods, but we get together when we can and when we do it’s like no time has passed since our last night out.

For the past year I have also been trying hard to get to know people in my neighboorhood. This was daunting for me. In situations where I don’t know anyone, I tend to shut down and am very shy. Every morning when I rolled my jolly green giant stroller into the school yard, I would see these groups of mom friends laughing and smiling together as they dropped of their non-crying children. They all looked put together and well dressed, and, quite frankly, I felt like a hot mess most of the time.  They looked like they had known each other for years, and I always wondered, “How on earth do I find that?” I tried to break into some of these groups a few times and make small talk, but never really had much success.

So, rather than give up, I kept trying.

I began pushing myself to talk to moms I met at the park. I started going with S to birthday parties so I could meet the parents of the kids in her class. I made more of an effort to chat with other moms I saw walking into the school yard the same time I was. And I said yes to almost every invitation to meet at a park or have a playdate, even if I didn’t feel like I knew the mom well enough to “hang out”. By the time school ended in June, I had met three awesome women that I enjoyed spending time with. We met regularly over the summer with our kids, and they have now become some of my favourite people. On Friday night we all got together with our kids and went for a swim at one of their homes. They BBQ’d for us, and as I sat around the patio table laughing and thoroughly enjoying myself, I suddenly remembered that post I made nine years ago… and I was so grateful to have made the friends I have over the past few years. I feel surrounded by wonderful people, and I cannot begin to tell you how much I love having amazing people right here in my neighborhood. It’s beyond lovely to bump into people out on a walk, or be able to get together and hang out without needing to coordinate a ton of schedules and commutes.

For the first time in a long time, I no longer feel like I’m just an outsider on the fringe of a group of friends. And even though it probably makes me sound like a bit of a loser, I don’t care. I’m happy… and it feels good.

If you are someone who is feeling like I once was, don’t give up. I believe you can find your people too.

 

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