Waiting to exhale
I immediately exhaled a sigh of relief the moment we were all together. Tears welled up in my eyes, as I finally felt at peace. My best friends and I don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, usually once every other year. We live in different states, have different family situations and have totally different work schedules. So scheduling time together is always a feat, but a necessary one. The three of us have been best friends since college and have been through hell and back. The funny thing is, we very rarely talk on the phone. We don’t know what happens in our day to day lives, but the moment we are all together it’s like we were never separated. And this trip was no different. I flew in to Colorado on a Thursday night, while Nissa drove in from Minnesota, and arrived at 1am. You’d think the time of day would have deterred us from talking, I mean come on, we’re old, we need our sleep. But it didn’t. We ended up talking till 3am and only forced ourselves to shut up so that we wouldn’t be completely exhausted the next day. The next morning, we drove 2 hours to the mountains. We literally never stopped talking the entire drive. (actually, we never stopped talking the three days we were together) One of the questions we kept coming back to all weekend was “why are we friends?”. I mean really, have you really tried to figure out why you are friends with your besties? The three of us come from completely different backgrounds, we had different upbringings and live totally different lifestyles. And yet we have this bond, this absolute respect for each other that keeps our friendship going. After our trip, I kept asking myself another question.
I’m just going to lay it out. What the actual fork? (I think you know which swear word I’m trying to use). I mean seriously! Why the fork is it so hard to make friends at this age? I’ve never actually had a hard time making friends. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been in the popular group, but I’ve also never been a loner. So, I’m completely at a loss as to why, at this age, I’m having such a hard time forming lasting friendships. I figured, by 42, I’d have this shit figured out. I figured, when we were moms, the cliques would stop, the judging would stop, and we would all be friends because we were grown ass women! Boy was I wrong! Why?!!! Why is the judging worse? Why are the cliques worse? What the hell is up with mom shaming?! And seriously, there’s still a “popular group?”! Come! On!!!!
Since entering my late 30’s and early 40’s, I’ve wondered how to make friends at this stage of life. I don’t know why, but making friends now seems much harder than it did when we were younger. Why is that? What makes a good set of friends? As much as l love my best friends from college, I need to have other friends to turn to who are a little more local. I need to have girls to go get coffee or a glass of wine with. Girls that I can talk to about the craziness of raising children, without the judgement and the mom shame. I want to find a group of girls who I know won’t talk about me the moment I get up from the table to go to the bathroom. But how? Why is it so fucking hard?! Why does it seem like so many moms are judging each other instead of listening and raising you up?
Here’s the funny thing. Every mom I talk to wants the same things. They want a group of friends to laugh with. To commiserate with. To hang out with without judgement. And yet, we all feel that we are being judged. So why is this? Are we judging each other? Is everyone talking about you? No. Yes. Both. Here’s what I’ve discovered. Yes, there are absolutely the moms out there that will judge you. They will talk about you when you leave the table. And they will mom shame you. BUT, and this is a big but, that is a small handful of moms. I know it feels like most moms out there are judging us, but the more women I talk to, the more I realize that they are just like me. So how do we find those women? The non judgers? The ones who will walk into your house and see a sink full of dishes or a house littered in toys and not give a rat’s ass? The one’s we can exhale with. I think it goes back to the basics. Finding women who have similar interests. When we were growing up and in high school and college, we met our friends through sports, clubs and the classes we were in. We had those similarities. Once we met each other, we had to build trust. We slowly lived life together and showed more and more vulnerability. If our friends were receptive, we became closer and eventually became best friends. I mentioned earlier that my college friends and I have been through hell in back. When I say that, I mean it. We have been there for each other through divorces, miscarriages, births, broken hearts, deaths and traumatic events. Never once did we question each other and never once did we think we were being judged. We showed up when needed, even if it meant flying across the country. And honestly, I know I may never find a group of women like them, friends that I can exhale when I’m around and just breathe. I am so grateful to have these ladies as my best friends.
In her Netflix documentary “The Call to Courage”, Brene Brown discusses shame and vulnerability. She states that “to love is to be vulnerable. We’re hardwired for belonging. The opposite to belonging is fitting in. Fitting in is assessing and acclimating. Here’s what I should say. Here’s how I should dress. Belonging is belonging to yourself first. Speaking your truth. Telling your story and never betraying yourself for other people. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are. It requires you to be who you are.” Ummm, hello!! Go back and read that. Like really, read it and think about it. Are you trying to fit in or are you trying to belong? Over the last few months, I’ve come to realize that I don’t want to “fit in”. I want to belong. So, I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is to figure out who you are first. What are your values and beliefs? What are your boundaries? What brings you joy? What type of person makes you feel valued and seen? After you figure these things out, you know what type of friends you want. You know what your interests are, and you will find similar types of women when pursuing those values and interests.
So, for all the ladies who are worried about making friends, I’ll tell you what I tell my step daughter that just entered high school, “don’t worry about it. It’ll happen in time, as long as you are being yourself”. And to all those women who are judging other moms. STOP IT!! JUST STOP! We’re all doing our best to raise our children and most of us are already judging ourselves enough. We don’t need you judging us as well.
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I'm an average girl who has discovered her passion for self-development after warrioring (yes, it's a word) through 6 miscarriages. I took that passion and applied it to helping others find their passions through High Performance Coaching. Boy mom to two "energetic boys" and navigating the art of being a step mom to a teenage girl, all while working daily on maintaining an authentic relationship with the best husband around. Sometimes mindful. Sometimes a runner. Always a little crazy!