The Friendship Dilemma.
To be honest, I don’t have many friends. Despite my bubbly, evervescent personality during diabetes meet-ups, I’m typically very shy and hesitant around people I don’t know. Some people interpret that as bitchy, which only makes things more difficult. Growing up, I never had a lot of friends. In elementary school, I had one best friend. In middle school, we incorporated two more girls, which included K. Then in high school, a split high school campus during freshman and sophomore year threw my friendship squad out of alignment. It was difficult and I spent many a lunch alone or trying to squeeze myself into the popular girls table. When one girl I’d known since kindergarten asked me if I was new, I knew that my chances of becoming BFFs with the popular kids was slim to none.
During sophomore year, I became classroom friends with Julia. Julia and I sat next to each other, whispered during class and gave our English teacher hell. At the start of junior year, I meekly asked if I could eat lunch with her. She said yes.
Julia was the glue that held our social circle together. She probably wouldn’t like me saying that, but I think it’s true. I’m not a social butterfly and I’m not much of an organizer, actually. I want to be, but it takes a lot of work and effort and I end up being terribly afraid no one will come. While our entire group, which was a nice mix of boys and girls, liked each other, Julia was sort of the ringleader in planning our weekend activities, which included a healthy dose of costume parties, late nights at the diner drinking milkshakes, and trips to downtown Portland once we secured our driver’s licenses. There was the usual high school drama, but it was never very persistent and all it really did was make things interesting.
College was different. My emotional ups and downs in college were about as chaotic and frequent as my blood sugars. I spent the entire time trying to integrate myself into some kind of group – first, with OSPIRG, the environmentally-friendly vegan hippies (which my penchant for chocolate and chicken really couldn’t tolerate); there was Campus Crusade for Christ, my foray into the Christian community as a newbie follower in Chris, which also didn’t go very well due to my constant questioning and complete and total fear of evangelism (it’s difficult to teach something that you’re still learning about); and finally there was Annie, my college best friend who I met when we lived in the same boarding house together. Annie and I were very similar, and we spent much of junior year together.
It didn’t last long. I had boy troubles, and coupled with an intense dislike of the town in which we lived in, I decided to spend a term in Portland. It all but ended that friendship. When I returned for Spring, Annie had moved onto a new group. They included me on activities but they were always Annie’s friends, I just happened to hang out with them.
I thought moving to the East Coast was going to solve a lot of my problems. Big city, lots of people, right? But I ended up living in a small suburban Jersey town where most of the people were thirtysomethings with children. I was lucky that I did know people with diabetes in NYC, which gave me some sense of community. But I spent many weekends alone during my first year here, struggling to find a way to meet people. The convenient thing about school is that you are friends by proximity. The campus traps you, but in the real world, co-workers can commute over large distances.
I joined meet-ups. They helped. But no best friends. A few random meet-ups, church outings and babysitting jobs filled up my weekends, but still, most of my time was alone. It wasn’t until I joined OKCupid and began dating Erik in December that I have consistently been with and done something on the weekends.
This might sound strange, but now that I’m in a relationship, I feel even more desperate to have girl friends. I am attending a couple weddings this summer, and with that come thoughts of my own wedding – namely, who, if anyone, would be in my wedding party. Is it possible to find a husband but not a maid of honor?
This past weekend, I went to a meet-up of girls who live in my town. They were nice girls; most of them are older than me. Erik asked me if any seemed “friend-worthy” but I think it’s too soon to tell. I certainly want to go to more meet-ups with them, see if anything happened.
I used to feel an anxiety about falling in love with someone, holding hands, kissing, spending time together. Now I’m feeling an anxiety about finding someone to hang out with, go shopping together, talk about boyfriends and parents and all the things I can’t blog about! Erik is good for most things, but alas, he is not a girl. Not that I’m complaining. I like his boyness.
My blog readers came through with flying colors with the recommendation to join OKCupid last fall, so I’m wondering if you will also be able to help me expand my social circle. It’s nice to know that I have so many good friends across the country, but I’d also like some friends in my own backyard. I’d like to meet girls who are my age and share my interests, not just my disease.