It turns out that every woman has days or years when she feels like the new girl. No matter how long we might have been at that church or that school or that camp, there’s a new girl in each of us as we constantly try to navigate new situations that arise and new decisions we have to make and new people we meet and it can paralyze the most outgoing of us.
Newness takes time to wear off. It takes shared meals and text messages and laughter because you forgot a name you really, really should know by now, again. It takes willingness to walk down the block to the neighborhood cook out or bringing a dish to the church potluck or showing up for the gingerbread house-making afternoon with your kids. Being new takes time. Literally. And it’s easy to become impatient and frustrated. Even my seven year old could tell you all about the excruciating pain of sending notes home with a friend, trying so desperately to schedule a play date, and then hearing nothing but silence in return.
But my seven year old is teaching me persistence.
Because every afternoon for weeks after he climbed down off the school bus in our new neighborhood he would ask me, “Did they call, mom?” And every afternoon I’d have to dread saying, “No.” But he just kept asking. He just kept prodding. So I tried all different kinds of ways to get in touch with the parents of the new friend he was determined to make. We sent written notes with our contact info and we asked his teacher to pass a note along until finally we had an email address we could write to directly. We put ourselves out there. We admitted our newness and we vulnerably asked for that play date.
So the silence that came back and that stretched out for weeks wrapped itself around my chest and whispered, “It’s not worth it.”
But I have a seven year old who never gave up. And the day we got an email back, the day we got an explanation about crossed wires, was the day I told my son with totally legitimate tears in my eyes that his new friend was dying for him to come over for a play date on the spot. On the spot, man! Once we figured out how to get in touch and once they realized we hadn’t received their initial reply, once we all moved past our awkward beginning, we landed in this sweet, sweet spot of a brand new friendship right down the road.
Because my kid wouldn’t quit talking me out of my own insecurity as the new mom. Because my kid kept believing the best of his friend and their family. Because my kid was determined, determined, to connect, he never stopped hoping. Never stopped persevering. Never stopped believing. Not once.
So we’ll start hosting a home group in our house even though we’re the newbies and my laziness is constantly in a headlock with my deep desire for friendship. But my hunger for connection knows that showing up is the only way to finding my way into community, into those late nights where it’s safe to cry and freak out and laugh and snort all within the same ten minutes. I want that. I want that when I’m the new girl and I want that for the new girls I meet.
So I’m going all in.
I’m going to keep showing up and going first and telling my embarrassing stories because I’ve learned that it’s when we let people see the un-photoshopped parts of our lives that they’re the most comfortable. I want people to see my dust bunnies and my doubts, my broken washing machine and my pretty new counter tops, my most recent battle with lice in all three of my kids’ hair as well as my delight in our bay windows.
All of it.
I have to be willing to share all of it if I want to begin the process of chipping away at the pretend surfaces of being new and find ways to let people into all the places where I am the most real.
This is an excerpt from Lisa-Jo’s new book – Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships. You can pre-order it here.
Click here to watch our friendship confessions. Because you’re not the only one who has worried about fitting in. Not by a long shot.
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