I was always the type of girl who was shy in school and I would want to curl up in a ball should the teacher ask me to read something out loud or to make a presentation to the class.
But when it came to making friends I would always feel comfortable enough to go up to someone and introduce myself.
I still have a vivid memory of being in my first year of high school and a new student arrived in our class, I remember being the first to go up to her and introduce myself. I have always enjoyed meeting new people and getting to know different cultures and backgrounds.
Considering I moved schools quite a few times as a child and teenager I learnt to adapt to my environments in order to make friends.
But as I got older things changed, being a young parent meant that I lost many friends as we just no longer had anything in common and I found it hard to be able to do the things they were doing, and there was no longer a connection there.
I found myself feeling lonely and distant from everyone. I always felt that because I was a young mum that it was very hard to make friends, most of the mums I was around in parent and toddler groups already had their own friendship groups and I always felt that I didn’t want to intrude or that they wouldn’t want anyone else joining in on their already establish friendships. And those that were my age just didn’t get what being a parent meant and were on a completely different journey to me.
I have always had a small group of friends and when the kids were younger I would attend events in local parenting groups on my own and I always found it so hard going alone.
My confidence wasn’t great either and I always felt judged by others and so would isolate myself. I always had a fear that if someone got to know me then they wouldn’t like me and so I was unable to make any friends for a long time.
It wasn’t until I reached out due to postnatal depression that I finally met so many wonderful women who I felt a strong connecting with. It just so happened that this is what connected me to a community of women that support me and made me smile again, women who I can be myself around.
I slowly started learning to have more confidence in myself and to be the girl who loves making friends once again.
I think the key to making friends is to find people that you can connect with, people that you feel comfortable around, people that believe in you and that always support you through the good and the bad. Having common interests is a huge part of making friends and it makes it easier to connect to others.
I’m not going to lie it’s much harder making and keeping friends when you’re a parent.
The few tips I would give to mothers who are struggling to take the steps to make friends are:
- Find a group of people that you have things in common with, so this might be support groups, baby and toddler groups, or it can even be classes for different hobbies or exercise classes. This first step will make it easier for you to be able to engage with others as you will have a few things in common with them.
- Be confident in yourself, (much easier said than done, I know that from experience) and don’t be afraid to approach others as they may well be feeling the same as you and might be just as nervous as you about meeting new people.
- This one might sound silly but use your children as a conversation starter, you’ll find you’ll usually have this in common with most people and this will get the conversation going. I always find it easier to start chatting to people about my children than going in and introducing myself (I would probably look ridiculous if I went up to someone and just started introducing myself 😄)
- Think positive, don’t think the worst when going into a new environment. I know from experience how scary it can be going into a new place where you don’t know anyone. But just remember that we all start as strangers before we make friends with anyone.
- Don’t put pressure on yourself to make friends. Your goal may be to make new friends but if you put too much pressure on yourself and go in with high expectations then it will just make you feel more nervous. Instead, take it easy and just go and enjoy your activity and if you happen to start chatting to someone and you feel a connection with them then that’s a bonus.
These are just some of my personal tips that I would use.
But feel comfortable to do what feels right for you and remember that the first step is always the hardest.