I used to find myself thinking about this question a lot. Especially as I moved back to the UK at the age of 20 and had spent my prime ‘friend-making years’ on the other side of the world.
After all, it’s not like when you were a kid and could just walk up to someone in the playground and say ‘hey, wanna be friends?’ (I mean you could try, but don’t be surprised if you get looked at like there’s something wrong with you).
Even when making friends at work, I never knew whether we were ‘friends’ enough to actually hang out outside of work, there was always that awkwardness of ‘am I crossing a line if I ask them to go for lunch this weekend?’.
I would see the quote “Surround yourself with people who get it” and I had a love/hate relationship with this quote.
I loved it because it made so much sense and I knew that surrounding yourself with good people who had similar interests, passions and ambitions as you could only lead to good things. But I also hated it because, well… where they hell were all of these people?!
I’d made friends online through different groups and online spaces, but the geographical difference meant I was really missing that in-person connection and left me feeling very alone (read that as ‘like a loser with no friends’).
After some time, I realised that I wasn’t getting anywhere fast by sitting on my ass and feeling sorry for myself.
At the time, I was reading a book called ‘Light is the New Black: A Guide to Answering You Soul’s Callings and Working Your Light’ by Rebecca Campbell, and a line in that book quite literally jumped out at me and gave me the hit upside the head that I needed…that line was:
“You are here to remind people that it is OK to be whole. It is OK to shine your light. OK to be unapologetically you. In fact, it’s more than OK, it’s necessary in order to thrive. But you must go first.”
But you must go first.
This to me, was a huge wake up call.
What if other people felt the same way I did, but were just waiting for someone to ask?
What if that work friend also wanted to ask me out to lunch but was feeling the same awkwardness that I was?
What if there were people around me who had the same ‘woo woo’ interests that I had, but nobody was talking about it, so they didn’t either?
So that’s what I did.
I went first.
Slowly but surely, I started to speak up about my secret (and somewhat strange) interests. I asked that girl from work if she wanted to get some lunch. I messaged that random girl I’d been speaking to on the internet to see if she wanted to grab a coffee sometime.
I got brave, I got vulnerable and I opened myself up to rejection.
And guess what?!… It paid off!
I found that there are people around me who are open-minded and into the ‘woo woo’ things I’m into.
I found that people thanked me for reaching out and for asking first.
I found that it wasn’t so weird after all to ask another human on the other side of a screen out to coffee.
And now I find myself surrounded… surrounded with beautiful soul sisters and people who ‘get it’.
So it’s time beautiful,
Time to get brave, time to get vulnerable.
It’s time to go first.