I did a Facebook live on this awhile back but if I’m being honest, I was totally in the moment and don’t remember exactly what I said, but apparently it was good… (according to some of my friends)
As a young child I had some “friends”… they were the people I did life with but to be honest I never felt I actually KNEW them nor they did KNOW me. I always felt super out-of-place and alone. Sure I saw them at my different activities but unless it was an event, I didn’t hang out with them.
Growing up I had my family and my cousins. We always had fun. My free time was filled with sports. In high school, I remember going to ONE high school party my senior year and shortly after arriving called my parents to pick me up because “they” were drinking. I didn’t want to be apart of that and get in trouble. Yes I know I was a goody-two-shoes, but I absolutely love that about myself and wear that badge proudly.
Fast forward to my 6 seasons on Charger Girls and it was a lot of the same. Sure we were friends and teammates, but if it weren’t for the mandatory practices, games and promotional appearances we probably didn’t hang out. It made me sad and disappointed. I had my family but I was envious of the RELATIONSHIPS I saw other women have and always asked, “What’s wrong with me?” Why don’t I get invited to the fun dinners and GNO?
To make myself feel better about myself, I just chalked it up to, I didn’t need them in my life. I’m just different. And so I went on living without one thing I desired, friendships. If I’m being honest, I don’t think I have ever had deep friendships. Not because I didn’t want them, but because I simply didn’t know how to have them.
But the older I got the lonelier I became. I was isolated more than ever and unfulfilled even though my schedule was jam-packed from sunrise to sunset. I knew something was missing but I didn’t know what exactly… Fortunately, I was on the road to self-growth and I was actively seeking the missing link in my life.
It started with developing a relationship with God. I took a step into a place I had been avoiding for 17 years, church. There I started meeting people. The story I had been telling myself my entire life was that I don’t fit in anywhere, especially here. But with an open mind I continued stepping, not knowing where it would lead me.
Months passed and I was comfortable in the church. I knew enough people in the church to not feel like an outcast. I still did not consider myself a believer but I enjoyed the women I was meeting so I took another bold step. I joined a small group. For those of you who don’t know what happens in a small group, imagine it as a glorified book club. We read books and talk about them in relation to our own lives. It became a safe place for me to “unload” my feelings knowing that I would not be judged.
As time passed I learned something about relationships, sometimes you have to give first. I always wanted the relationships to come to me. Putting myself out there with every fear of acceptance, doubt of being good enough as well as the potential judgement that could be made against me scared the living you-know-what out of me. There were times of shame, utter embarrassment, and most of all it simply challenged me to get out of my own way.
I kept telling myself what I had learned in my exploration of faith, “I am enough and I am loved”. Slowly but surely I found deeper relationships, I began to trust others. Over the course of a year, I went from tiptoeing into a small group with my guard held up high to creating my own. With the knowledge that I may be judged and I may not be accepted but at the same time those thoughts pop up in my head, my heart tells me that I am enough and I am loved.
Having good friends is not about what I receive from others, it has become what I can GIVE to them, it is simply BEING the good friend. Becoming the person I needed in my own life has become something I cherish ever-so-deeply. It is something you do without the expectation of receiving it in return. But I can tell you when I became the good friend, I had the good friends. I know that I am not alone in having felt alone, so these days I’m in constant search for those women who want the relationships but are scared to be rejected or unaccepted. Maybe I was hurt at a young age, I don’t really know why I put up a fence around my heart but the deeper I dive into my faith the more I realize that there is more. There is MORE for all of us. But in order for us to HAVE MORE, we simply have to GIVE MORE. More of ourselves, first. Take the step and trust.