By CYN LoPINTO
As you watch young children play together, you see how effortless it is for this age group to make friends with one another. Their natural and open approach facilitates sharing and the perfect environment allowing friendships to blossom. Sometimes these early acquaintances will turn into a lifelong relationship. Consider yourself fortunate if you have this type of friend in your life.
As we get older, it is much harder to make friends. During our school-age years, most of the kids we spend time with are either classmates, teammates or neighbors. They are usually kids who live nearby or members of the groups we belong to. Close friendships can come from this pool of peers and relationships can be even more significant once the college years begin.
As we enter the workforce we realize that the people we associate with at our job, are not necessarily what we consider friends. Socializing and interacting with colleagues is essential at the job and helps to make the workday bearable. At the same time however, a “work” friend might not be a person you wish to include in the happenings of your personal life.
When we marry and have children, our circle of friends become intertwined with our family. Often parents of the children our kids are friends with become our friends. We are all together at the same events, and friendships seem to naturally occur. We are likely to be drawn towards those with similar parenting attitudes, while noticing compatibility taking place between the adults. If you are lucky enough to have this type of friendship, it is a win/win. Both you and your children are happy spending time this way.
It is when the kids move out and begin their adult lives that friendships may change. You may have either left the workforce or changed jobs. Perhaps you are no longer a part of the groups you were once involved with. Maybe the relationships with the parents of your kid’s friends have since fizzled out. You may not be as active in your church as you used to be. It is a strange new period and also a time when your peers are going through their own changes. It could be the first time in decades that developing new friends may take some real effort on your part.
The good thing about this stage in your life is that you know what type of friend you value. There have been those throughout your years that have fallen short in the role of a friend. You may have first seen them as somebody you felt good about inviting into your circle, but then realized you were mistaken. Growing older allows some real clarity in this area. You no longer feel the need to allow people into your life that aren’t good for you emotionally. It isn’t worth it. Friends you chose now need to add some real value to your life.
Try to hone in on the “child” voice inside of you when it comes to meeting new people. It is hard to be vulnerable and put yourself out there. But, what is the worst that could happen? Somebody isn’t interested in becoming your friend? You could handle that. The best case scenario would be you find an amazing person that is also looking for a friend. As young children, we took this chance. We didn’t let the worry about a possible rejection stop us from going forward. Relationships greatly enrich our lives, and this concept becomes even more evident as we get older. You really can’t have too many friends!