Saturday, October 1, 2016

Making friends


     One thing I have been blessed with, among many others, is good friends.  I am lucky that way.

     My idea of what friendship means has changed a lot throughout the years. The evolution of my friendships and the different shifts in direction are an interesting thing to look back at.  I was always somewhat of a popular person, courted and granted access into different groups of people. That's a thing I completely took advantage of throughout my teenage years, when I hopped my way around different groups of friends as it suited me... I am not sure you have figured it out from my 'tone', but I don't hold myself in high regards when it comes to my behaviour towards friends those teenage years...

     I was selfish and often shallow, spoiled is another word that comes to  mind... And I have a distinct outrage towards some of the more bullying behaviour I might have had toward some people along the way. It makes me absolutely cringe.

     Obviously I was not the devil... I have had and managed to maintain a lot of good friendships throughout the years. I know for a fact that I was very loyal and dedicated to my friends. I think I was a good friend to most. I know I gave my all to some...

     But here I am slipping too deep on memory lane, so I'll just rope myself back up. What I meant to write about here is slightly different. It's about how it feels like to make friends when you are an adult.  

     When you are in your teens things are way easy... You have a school system that encourages and supports interpersonal connections. From there its not all that difficult to skip through the network of friendships and find your spot...  If by any sort of misfortune you do not manage to bring those friendships along into your adulthood (which, let's be honest, very few people can) (as I said before, I am one of those incredibly lucky people who managed to keep some very close friendships which stared early on in my life), you may find yourself in the position to have to make new friends. But then as a grown-up things start to get tricky.

     You may be lucky enough to make good friends with your co-workers, but this won't always be the case. Most times, we tend to feel less personal, touchy-feely when people from the professional environment are present. You wouldn't want your boss, whom you had to impress with your decent composure and intelligent capabilities at the job interview, now see you jamming on top of the table in a club at 4 in the morning after several shots/glasses/buckets of alcoholic poison entered your system...

      Personal development courses and classes may, however be a good place to make some lasting connections. Whether it be percussion lessons, cooking classes, marathon training or language course, one thing that can help hit things off is that you already have one trait in common. Your interest and passion that brought you to whatever class you are in to begin with. Second, it's most likely that you and the potential friends-to-be, are finding yourself in or around the same age group, which is another major plus. Let's be honest, as hard as we may try, finding common ground with a 16 year old when you are in your 30s is a slim shot at bringing you into your greatest friendship story...

     From the group of friends that I hold so dearly, one I have met early on in my student years, some (including my husband) I have met during an exchange summer semester in the university. The rest I have met exactly through one of those private language classes I mentioned, which I will forever remember dearly, if not for actually teaching me a new  language, then at least for bringing these beautiful people in my life.

     Then as we started getting closer together, I  left. Left everything we have started in Munich and moved our lives to Abu Dhabi. Here's when we hit rock-bottom on the friendships front... After having made such beautiful connections to our friends in Munich and knowing that our stay here would be sort of temporary, we had about 0 interest in making friends... Again!

     The only problem with this  was that our temporary stay was extending (now entering our 4th year of being here) and we didn't quite realise how being a lonely couple would weigh us down...

     What made things even more difficult was trying to find people with a shared interest... I didn't pick up a new job or any classes, my husband was busy-busy-busy at work, we tried the weekend brunch type of people and quickly realised that's not us, we definitely don't belong to the late night club scene,  we even tried the 'we share the same nationality' friendships, but came to the realisation that it is most certainly not enough.  We soon had our first baby, which brought us immense joy, but as far as friendships go, it set us apart in a completely different category of people.

     About a year after having our daughter I have entered 'the mommy group', which I am so grateful for, as it definitely took me out of the rut I was stuck in. We do have major common interests (our babies, duh!) and as far as the discrepancies, they are small enough to be politely ignored.  We go out for coffee, celebrate our babies milestones, cheer each other up, share all sorts of important informations and notify everyone when necessary. It's not only a good, positive friendship, but a functional one as well. I love the openness, the way we celebrate and appreciate our womanhood.

     I am not sure that I fit in perfectly with all of them, sometimes I feel less mature and I don't know... less 'womanly' than they are, but overall it brings me lots of comfort knowing that I have them to bounce off ideas, chit-chat or spend time together.

    We had on and off meetings with work piers of my husband's, which we always enjoy, but never seem to be constant about.

    There is one friendship that we have set grounds of here in Abu Dhabi and I do hope we can take with us further into the future, no matter where we will be...

     In the very beginning, we quickly made a connection with another couple and even though we don't meet on a regular basis, it feels like the closest thing we have right now to a life-long good friendship. They keep things light and fun, conversations are always interesting and easy-flowing and the most important thing is that we can be ourselves completely when they are around. No excessive politeness, no fake smiles, no misunderstandings. That is major!

     Them being slightly younger, there is a great sense of care and a family feel to our relationship. I love that! I love that we can say we have  someone to depend on, as close to us as our own blood. Having them in our lives over here kept us going. Made us see things in lighter colours when we were only seeing dark.

     Recently our network of friendships here seems to start expanding to include another couple of firends who have recently started their journey here. They too make us feel incredibly comfortable and they are so reliable. It's always a pleasure when you hit things off with people and conversations are flowing. I like that a lot.

      I like to think that we made some real connections to our friends in the time we have spent in this part of the world. I hope to continue making many beautiful memories with them and to become closer and closer! I like them, I hope they feel the same way too!

     As a conclusion to this long slide into our social life, making friends is good for you, even when you think you are not in need. Making that extra bit of effort to join a group, go out for drinks or a playdate with kids is going to beat sitting by yourself in front of a laptop anytime! So do it! Go out there, extend your hand and a big smile and jump into knowing new people. Since we are all longing for pretty much the same thing, it shouldn't be hard at all... Be open minded, less judgemental, get to know the people speaking back at you without labelling... Smile, compliment if you really mean it, make people laugh if you can... Participate, conversate, integrate...

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