Last week I emailed a friend of a friend that lives on the Eastern Shore. I was so awkward. “So….Um…if you want to and if you have time…could we…like…um…hang out? I know you’re busy…but…if you want…maybe…you want to…uh…be…friends…?” Obviously, I didn’t write that in an email, but that’s how I felt. Like a stuttering sixteen year old boy asking a girl to go out with me. She responded, by the way, and invited Gregg and I to attend church with her family. Woo Hoo! We’re in! They want to be friends!
Making friends after college is quite the challenge. There’s no sororities or clubs or weekly get togethers organized by someone older than you to force you into friendship. So, after college I have ended up being desperate and brave. I’m sure there are other reasons why friendship becomes harder as we get older. More responsibilities and commitments. Grown-up concerns like bills and budgets and marriage. Do we become less brave as we get older as well? I’m not sure. I think that when I was younger, I used to be more friendly to strangers than I am now. I’m not sure all of the whys, but it does seem to be more difficult.
I just thought of another reason! Different life stages. In college, everyone (mostly) is single. Everyone is at the same place in life, talking about the same things, thinking about the same things. End of story. After college, people start to get married and have babies all at different paces. I think this makes friendship more difficult. I’m still not quite sure how to be friends with a mom with three kids, even if she is my age. She probably doesn’t know how to be friends with me either. We CAN be friends, but isn’t it easier to have friends with people in your same life stage? I think this life stage difficulty is true for new friends, whereas with friends that have been around for awhile, the life stage doesn’t matter as much.
Not the church we visited.
We were invited to a Baptist Church. I never thought “Baptist Church” and “Gregg and I” would be used in the same sentence. There was Sunday School for young adults and a Baptism (5 to be exact) and a Church Lunch. Everyone was just as friendly as the members of the other church we visited. There were a couple of differences though. It was packed. Maybe because of the baptisms, but there was hardly an empty seat in the house. Also, there were “young adults.” After Sunday School, we got to talking to a few of them, but then we got separated before we could exchange any contact info. Please let me make a friend today, I was thinking.
From Sunday School, we moved on to the worship service where the baptisms were taking place. During the Baptism, the floor of the altar opened up to reveal a tub of water under the stage. The pastor and the baptisees were waist deep in the water with only their top half exposed. We were in the back of the church and couldn’t see a thing. I have to confess. (Maybe I should save this for Wednesday.) During the Baptism, I was getting kind of woe is me. I was missing our Knoxville church and our Knoxville friends. And, (getting very honest here), it seemed like every woman over the age of 25 had a baby or two or three. Woe is me. Gregg encouraged me to stand up and watch. Guess what? I got out of my woe is me thinking and listened to the stories of those getting baptized. Amazing that thinking about other people can get me out of myself.
As church was ending, I stole a pencil from the pew ahead of us. I was determined to get some digits from some “young adults”. We were off to Church Lunch. And we were off to making…friends! For Gregg and I, there were definitely some awkward moments when we found ourselves standing against the wall and looking around wondering what to do next. But, we had some lovely get-to-know-you conversations during lunch. We even got to talk to the pastor. And, as lunch was ending, I was handed a piece of paper with two phone numbers and an email address. I could just cry. Not really. I provided my contact information in return and left Church Lunch walking on air. I even returned the unused stolen pencil to the Sanctuary. I had used my friend’s pen to write down my contact info.
P.S. On the Eastern Shore, everyone is connected. Everybody knows everybody. For example, the woman that conducted one of my interviews used to babysit Gregg’s boss’s daughter. Here’s another one. Gregg’s boss’s wife is best friends with one of the greeters we met at church yesterday. The greeter is the mother-in-law of the friend that invited us to church. Do you like how I’m not naming any names?