Since beginning this Post A Week Challenge, I have received updates with ideas for blogs. Normally I just skim them, then do my own thing. But this week’s got me thinking: How do you decide who to be friends with?
It’s an interesting question. When I think about the people I actually consider friends, the list is relatively short. Part of it is that I suffer from social anxiety (a diagnostic way of explaining shyness). Parties and social gatherings make me extremely nervous and I deal with that by either talking about things in my comfort zone or avoiding talking at all. Now I can focus on my kids instead of making awkward communication. If there’s a dog, I’ll spend time with it. This gives the impression that I am cold, detached, or snotty. Most people leave it at that.
People who end up as my friends do so because they are patient. My husband once told me that he always knows my friends are worthwhile because it takes me so long to warm up to people. By his estimation, if I have warmed up to someone and they have taken the time necessary for that to happen, they must be good people.
I don’t really decide to become friends with people, at least not consciously. Rather, if there is something about the person that intrigues me, I might let them in, little by little. What engages me is some level of intelligence, a sense of shared values (not politics or religion, but values), and a sense of humor akin to my own.
Like most people, especially in the social networking world, I have a large number of acquaintances. Colleagues, ex-classmates, ex-students, family, other wives and mommies–these are people I know and can talk to briefly about the limited things we have in common. My true friends can be counted in the single digits. I am an only child so perhaps that is why I am fine with my own company. I don’t fear being alone. And I have little patience for spending time with people who are not worth my effort. If I spend extended time with people, it is because they are able to make me forget my anxiety and be myself. With that comes loyalty and complete acceptance (even, or especially, when I disagree).
I’m a prickly pear to be sure. So to answer the question of the week, I decide who to be friends based on who can stand the thorns.