From Tracie: Personality and Making Friends

Monday, June 26, 2006

Personality and Making Friends

Recent events mixed in with a conversation with Jessie have had me thinking, and then Pamie wrote something that made me think about it some more---"It takes a very certain kind of person who can just decide complete strangers at a coffee shop are now going to become her friends." She expressed it so well - that is the kind of girl that I was always jealous of.

I will never forget in seventh grade I switched schools for the first time in my life. The first day was so strange for me. The new school was so different from my old one and everyone seemed to have known each other for years. I felt like such an outsider.

Well, I decided that this was my chance to start over and be whoever I wanted to be. To pick out new friends that didn't have any pre-knowledge of me.

But instead of walking in that school and just making friends, I decided to wait it out and watch and see who I wanted to try to make a connection with, and figure out a way to get accepted by them and be part of a group.

Of course that didn't work out too well.  Instead I just didn't get up enough courage to talk to anyone. And once I did decide who I wanted to be friends with I couldn't think of anything to say to start a conversation (and when I did have occasion to talk to one of them, I spent the rest of the week over-analyzing what I said and how stupid I was for saying it...and it probably was stupid, because I had a whole week to think about it since that person wasn't having any more conversations with me) and by the end of the first couple of days everyone had established their friend groups...

.......and I was on the outside watching. Trying to figure out how all of these people seemed to instinctively know how to start conversations and be immediate friends with each other. That has never come naturally to me--it might have in the pre-sexual abuse days, but I didn't seem to carry that knowledge with me.

I finally did make friends that year....and eventually some pretty good ones, but in the back of my mind with almost every relationship/friendship I have ever had I felt like the second guy in Pamie's
coffee shop experience "that means this girl sat down and made some people change their plans for the day to become temporary friends. Or maybe not. Maybe the guy who isn't a waiter can't believe how lucky he is that this girl started talking to him. Maybe the other guy is jealous that he's mostly listening to the conversation. Maybe he wishes he could go back to his book." Of course, sometimes that book really is more interesting, but when I am honest with myself, usually, that book is just safer.


  1. Great post! As a recovering wallflower and natural introvert, I can totally relate to this. It is hard to put yourself out there and be the person to reach out to others sometimes. I try to do that more than I used to, but it's still hard. I think it's the fear of rejection that gets me. But usually when I DO reach out, I find that people are receptive. I just need to do it more.

  2. You know, I am like Janice. I am a total extrovert. And if people don't talk much to me, I always feel that they don't like me...strange! But growing up is much more painful not making 'friends' quickly. Everyone is in a clique and it is hard to be one of them...I am glad you had made friends.

    BTW - why don't you join us next week to tackle a project...It is kind of fun...especially when it is have a big 'ah' effect...

  3. Oh, my. I hear you, Tracie. I too have always been jealous of that person who can just decide that these strangers are going to be her friends now. It's a little easier to introduce yourself online, but in real life...? It's hard!

    Thanks for visiting me today!

  4. Extrovert here also, but I wasn't growing up by any means. Sometimes things change as we get older, thank God.

  5. Thought-provoking comments. I made a major move in 7th grade too and had "someone" tell me I should just change from being an introvert to an extrovert, be a whole new me. It didn't work, but I made good friends that I still have to this day. Ironically I married an extrovert and have extroverted kids. Guess God knew I needed a whole family to keep me from living among my books and scrapbooks. As much as I love alone time and quiet time, I need the excitement of the extroverts in my life!

  6. I think I reinvented myself when I took art class instead of home ec in high school. But I also had different personalities when I was around the different groups I hung out with - the art crew, the brainiacs, the drama club, and the newspaper. Michele says hi.

  7. Ha, as someone who works at a computer company I can definitely relate to this post. Being surrounded by socially awkward middle aged men makes me feel like an anthropologist at times:P

  8. Oh, this brings back memories for me too. I moved to a city school from a country school in grade six and I stuck out like a sore thumb. The experience did change me though. I'm an introvert on the inside and an extrovert on the outside. But it would be so nice if someone else would make the first move though. Why is it ALWAYS me?? So I guess I'm more of an introvert... just trying to fit in.


  9. Neat how you remembered that experience like that one. I was very shy and had to start high school in a new town at a big school and remember how intimidating it was to make new friends. Thankfully I had many I made through my youth group at church. Oh, I am also a Tackle It Tuesday person and come join us next week! I just saw two of my tackle it buddies who left comments.

  10. Hi Tracie, and thanks for stopping by my site today! I can totally relate to your post. I'm usually the one that would rather pick up a magazine in the grocery line than strike up a conversation, but recently I have to say I am more and more realizing that I could be letting some wonderful people be totally unknown to me only because, as you said, the magazine (or book) is safer. Here's to meeting wonderful strangers , like you, today!

  11. So nothing's happened since Monday? lol. Michele says hi.

  12. i just like to read blogs and assume the blogger is my immediate friend. heh heh

    hey you don't suppose i could borrow 5 bucks could I?

  13. Great post! I tend to be different people at different times. SOMEtimes I'm very extroverted and can be just like that.... but I have to be in the right mood. And it's MORE likely to happen if I'm in a place where I MIGHT never have to see those people again - if I so choose! But when I start a new school, or a new job - then I tend to be a little more cautious -- I think it's in the knOwing that you have to continue to be around these people for quite some time in the future - and you don't want to look like a HUMONGOUS idiot right off the bat! ;)

    But now I have to run back over to Wendy's - cuz I'm not quite DONE making a fool of myself over there yet! See ya there!

  14. I have very few friends, but the friends that I do have are dear indeed. I choose to have a small network: I don't have the time to maintain a large one. Shallow relationships - and people - bother me. I don't have the time for them, either.

    That said, I have a huge network. I know a lot of people through work and through life in general. And everyone knows who I am - partly because I've got a really unique name, and partly because I work in a higher-profile sector.

    When I travel to conferences, I build instant rapport with my travel-mates, and I often keep in touch with them afterward. But nothing comes close to quiet time at home with the only folks who really matter. When push comes to shove, I hate being "out there". I'd rather keep things quiet and close.