I was going to write a post on 5 ways to make new friendships, because if you immigrate you basically start all over again. But then I realized, it is not about making new friendships as much as it is about deepening and nourishing superficial relationships we all already have.
The neighbor down the street or in your class who we politely smile at, or the girl at Starbucks who knows what you drink because you are there ever-single-day.
Making the move to America was hard on me because I always felt like I never had any history with friends. All my longtime high school friends in the Netherlands; we all had memories and stories and that is what made us so close.
We all crave deep, true friendships; hearts on the table, fighting for each other and encouraging one another is something rare now a days. I hear it all the time ''Girls are mean, I'd rather hang out with boys'' and while yes, technically that could be true. If you truly find a good girl-friend, there is no one else who will understand your period struggles, husband struggles, kids struggles and other feminine struggles more than, you guessed it; another woman.
So here we go, 5 ways, that I myself need to listen to a little more, to have deeper friendships.
1 - Understanding that we are all just human.
I am an introvert. I pose as an extrovert sometimes, but there is nothing more in the world that I love more than being by myself; doing absolutely nothing. But the truth is; I am human and as a human, I crave relationships. Relationship with my husband, my dog and friendship with other woman; to be understood, loved and challenged. This is because we are made for relationship.
That is why even though there is so much divorce, people still try marriage. Even though ''girls are mean'' we still try to make new friends.
The first thing to acknowledge when you feel insecure in a superficial friendship you are trying to deepen is; this person wants deep relationships just as I do, because she is wired just like I am. And that gives me personally so much ease, because you have this desire in common; and you can meet each other desires.
I have to remind myself of this every time I feel uncomfortable or awkward talking to someone that I have a superficial relationship with. Which leads me to my next point;
2 - Don't be afraid for the awkward phase.
As a kid, I don't even remember ''having to make friends'' I just had them. You walked up to someone and just starting joining them in what they where doing.
If I would do that now, start reading next to someone who was reading at Starbucks, this person would think I was crazy.. But why..? We are so afraid of another person thinking we are weird or crazy, that it keeps us from the things we really want. Deep friendships.
I am not saying, walk up to a random stranger and start mimicking them. But I am saying; don't be so afraid to put yourself out there. To go through the awkward silences, the ''uhms'' and the ''nice weather huh?'' To get to the real conversations that we all enjoy so much. I have a really close friendship that started that way and all I wanted to do was run from the awkward, but my friend seemed to not care and now we laugh about those times. In the end, we don't remember the awkward stuff as awkward; in the end they are what makes your relationship so special.
3 - Be vulnerable
This one is hard for me. I want other people to share their struggles with me, but it will take me a long time to share anything with them. But I've noticed, that if there is 2 people that are like that in a friendship, the ship isn't going anywhere. So start opening up or ask the hard questions to have them open up.
Sharing your heart is the ultimate way to a quality friendship, but that is the hardest thing to do for most of us. It is all about making a conscious decision, ''today I will be vulnerable and I will allow others to be vulnerable with me.'' -- what is the worst that can happen?
4 - Listen and engage
We probably all think we are good listeners, but if you'd ask our friends and family what would they say?
This one is so simple; but so hard. We all want good and pleasant friends, but that starts with being a good and pleasant friend. To be someone a person wants to tell their struggles to and share their heart with, starts with listening.
Nothing makes me feel more loved than when my husband truly listens to me. Nothing makes me open up more, than feeling loved and feeling someone is engaged in who I am as a person. Listening is not only nodding your head, it is engaging and asking questions like ''How did that make you feel?'' or ''So then what happened?''
Don't be so quick to change the subject, or to project what a person is going to on yourself and in this way make it about you. Be a pleasant friend and just listen and engage. This is something that takes being selfless, something that is not talked about enough in this world. We live in a world that tells us to think of ourselves first, because if we don't no one will think of us. But I am telling you, selflessness is a gift, and goodness will follow you if you practice it.
5 - Be proactive
Make dates with your new friends, invite them to your birthday, a dinner party or plan a coffee/shopping date. Text them just to ask how they are doing.
Know that you can deepen relationships, but don't be afraid of the work; to go through the awkwardness and to be selfless and to be vulnerable.
So many people have said to me; ''let's have coffee'' and I've said ''sounds great.'' -- Only to never have that coffee. What I should have said was, are you free next Thursday morning? But I wasn't proactive, I was to scared for the awkwardness and too selfish with my time.
Now I wish I worked for that friendship, because a year later I would have loved to have seen where that one coffee would have bloomed.
6 - This is a bonus point, but in my opinion the most important point.
I'm a huge believer in prayer; God knows your heart, and He knows who else is desiring a friendship just like yours; He is the best 'matchmaker.' I know this because He matched up my husband and I. If he can do that, with seas in between, He can do that in friendships as well. So I would encourage you to pray, to ask God to give you vulnerability and to show you who desires a deep friendship just like you. To lead you to that person who you could have a lifetime of friendship and encouragement with. Remember God wants to give good gifts to His children, you just need to ask.
I just want to add this on real quick; the things I talk about that you should do are about your character, not your personality. Don't change who you are just for a friend to like you.
If you have any other tips for me that can help me deepen friendships. Let me know in the comments!