This morning I have a work/friend date. Is it a long work meeting preferable face-to-face or are we finally transitioning into actual friends outside of work? The fact that I don’t know speaks volumes about how complex it is to navigate forging adult friendships. I know some people are social butterflies who start up a conversation at school drop-off or luck out clicking with the neighbors. I’m not one of those. My introverted nature means I’m highly unlikely to approach a stranger, even a seemingly friendly parent of another student. My lingering adolescent insecurities give me pause, urge me to ask myself if anyone would even want to be friends with me.
While friendship is a reciprocal relationship, over the years I’ve had too many friends become former friends, drift off into the oblivion of I-wonder-what-happened-to-so-and-so. Enough of those and one begins to question self. What’s wrong with me that I’m so forgettable, so unnecessary? Then it’s the struggle between settling for a version of friendship-loneliness or fumbling awkwardly toward friendship. It’s trying to identify who might be interested in a new friendship, who seems more willing to chat a little extra, who laughs a little easier, perhaps throws out a tentative idea to meet up sometime.
And here I am now, wondering and hoping with a similar nervousness to a first date even though I’ve talked to this woman nearly every day of the past few years. Will we bridge the chasm between professional and personal? I can sense my own anxiety in this waiting period. My instinct is to draw inward, the cliche don’t try so you can’t be hurt, can’t be made to feel foolish. But that’s the lonely, cowardly move. I need to practice bravery and vulnerability. If I’m open, hopefully she’ll be open. We can be two women trusting the human process and the way we’re all looking for connection, and then perhaps there’s a chance at something real.