Friendship is a rare and wonderful blessing. Most of us say “friend” when we mean acquaintance. To find and gain interesting new acquaintances is much easier than finding friends. Acquaintances are fun to have but it is friendship that prevents burnout. Shy, socially anxious, introverted– whatever the reason, for some persons the work of connecting and developing friendships is much more difficult than for others.
Joining a group that shares an interest in common is a great way to expand your circle of acquaintances. Many people get involved up at Church, or make sure they get to all socials connected with work, or they join the Daughters of the American Revolution, or community choir, or Society for Creative Anachronisms, etc.
What then should you do to get to know those acquaintances in the hopes of finding the one or two who might become friends? I really don’t know. I know that keeping busy with things I enjoy doing leads to larger circles of acquaintance and that the larger the circle of acquaintance the more likely it is to produce a friend or two.
Talking helps. Not easy if you are an introvert, or suffer from social anxieties. Arriving early to chat briefly with other persons before the big crowd arrives helps. Staying late if you have the energy helps too, because often the scragglers will let down their hair and speak freely. For me, the practice of being there and listening is part of becoming comfortable with new acquaintances. Moving acquaintance to friendship seems to be a serendipitous event most likely to occur if the pool of acquaintances is constantly being freshened with new acquaintances.
Going to everything that you can stand attending helps freshen the pool of acquaintance with new faces and helps to improve already acquired acquaintance. If your face is familiar, people get used to recalling your name, and gradually the connections can deepen.
These things bring no guarantees. I spent 12 years at the same Church and participated in numerous activities: Bible study, RCIA, choir –for years–, even took time with a lay religious group for formation and recently had to admit I have no FRIENDS. Many acquaintances, but nobody to call to join me for a cup of coffee. I’ve tried inviting people from my pool of acquaintance to join me for coffee and chat time but the lack of success suggests I need to look further.
I burned out. If I had some friends there perhaps the burnout would not have happened. But all my friends with whom I share the Faith live in other cities. So, I stopped all but Sundays and re-assigned that social energy to expand my circles of interest and freshen my pool of acquaintance.
I am putting in time with our local Society for Creative Anachronism. I enjoy it. I like the people in general. Intelligent, creative, interesting people and we share this fun activity. Have I made any FRIENDS? Not yet, but I am gradually building my circle of acquaintances with many persons I enjoy. I like these people, and they seem to like me too. Will a friendship grow from this? I have no idea. It might.
I must admit that my best friends are either from childhood or University or from Dog Training. I hope that I am able to transfer that ability to find friends and create friendships in a different venue!
Dear Lord, thank You for my friends. Bless them please. Thank You for new acquaintances and the opportunity to discover another person out there who can be a friend with me. Bless my acquaintances please. Please help me to recognize persons who can be friends when I meet them. +Amen.