Monday, October 10, 2005

Making Friends 101

Saturday afternoon found me in the kitchen, cooking up a storm (and making a mess). I was trying my mom's award-winning recipe for BBQ beans (she won first place several years ago in our hometown "Bean Days" contest--yes, my hometown has a summer festival called "Bean Days"; insert your favorite joke here) and testing a new recipe for pumpkin bars (yum). A couple in our apartment complex had sent out fliers about a month ago announcing a neighborhood potluck at the clubhouse. I was really excited for it, thinking it would be a great opportunity to get to know some of our neighbors.

Not so much. The 20-some people there included: the host couple and some of their family members who don't even live in the complex; the bachelor who lives across from us; several people age 50 and over; and Steve and me. So although we enjoyed some good food, the evening mostly consisted of stilted, forced conversation and awkward silences after you've covered the basic questions (where are you from? what brought you here? what do you do?). That and an older lady who, for some reason unbeknownst to us, felt the need to prattle on for several minutes about her collection of dishes that's worth thousands of dollars. O-kay.

So the potluck was kind of a bust. As Steve and I talked later, we expressed our disappointment and frustration with the process of building relationships here in Tennessee. I feel like I missed some sort of class while I was growing up, "Making Friends 101"--or something like that. Those of you who know me well know that I eventually become pretty outgoing and very talkative once I get to know people. (Some of you might even view that as an understatement!) But when I'm around strangers, the introvert in me pops up, and I find myself feeling awkward, self-conscious and unsure of how to make conversation. I want to be one of those people who makes others feel welcome and at ease, and can steer a conversation smoothly. I want to reach out to our neighbors, and build relationships with people here. But I feel like I don't really know how.


Amanda said...

Yeah, I totally know where you're going with this -- and I just moved back to my home town. (Unfortunately, all my home town friends haven't returned!) I've got a couple good possibilities, and plenty of Josh's friends who are sort of my friends...but it's tough.

Jamie said...

Yep, that's me too! Talkative as a clam, until I get to know you, and then just plain talkative! Although, since Mike joined the Army and I HAD to learn to make friends, now I have the bad habit of talking too MUCH when I meet someone new, and saying things I shouldn't...It's a delicate balance! :)