There’s an episode of Seinfeld where Elaine is dating a jazz musician named John. After she shares some of the more juicy details of their encounters with Jerry, Jerry runs into a member of John’s band and tells him that his friend Elaine and John are, “pretty hot and heavy.” Later on, Jerry relays the details of this conversation to Elaine and she’s horrified. She tells Jerry, “What if he tells John? Then John’s gonna think that I think that we’re hot and heavy. I don’t want John thinking that I’m hot and heavy if he’s not hot and heavy!”
Obviously this is an exaggerated and fictional scenario, but I can relate on so many levels, most of them not at all romantic. I was talking with a friend recently about how strange it is that we meet people all the time, yet it’s rare to actually make a connection with someone. Even when it seems like we’ve made a connection with another person, it can feel tenuous and we’re afraid to embrace it, because, ‘I don’t want them to think that I think we have a connection if they don’t think we have a connection!’ This feeling, this sort of fear of being rejected, is something I think more of us can relate to than not.
I must have used the phrase, “I don’t know how adults make friends!” at least a dozen times over the past several years. It’s so easy in school, where we have something in common with everyone – even if it’s only that we walk down the same hallway as one another on a regular basis. I had just as many eccentricities and peculiar interests in high school as I do now, perhaps even more – but it was still easy to relate to others. As we grow older, however, we develop our own private lives and don’t necessarily share anything with others on a daily basis, so it takes real effort to reach out and find people we can truly relate to. To find friends. To find your niche.
Despite the challenges, I found a way to make connections in my first several years outside of school. I met people through work, I met friends through other friends and connections were made while enjoying live music, art, or martinis. Motherhood, particularly stay-at-home motherhood, however, has been a total game changer and I’m just beginning to adjust to it. I am finding that the more I let go of the fear that others will think I’m nuts, the more I’m able to freely connect. That all started, of course, back in July with my parenting declaration of independence. The old cliché that you “have to be a friend to make friends” certainly seems to ring true, and I’m finding that the more I offer myself to others, the more connections I’m able to make.
How have you gone about finding your niche? Do you feel that motherhood makes doing so easier, or harder?