Does anyone else read Post Secret? Post secret (if you don’t know) is a community art project where you write a secret on a postcard – anonymously – send it to this man in MD and he posts all of the postcards on a blog/tumbler. He has published books of them in fact (I have all but 1 I think).
The thing about Post Secret that is so special, is that while I am sure some of these are sent for pure shock value, there is something so amazingly comforting about knowing you are not alone. That someone else on the planet has that same thought you have/had and that no human experience or thought belongs to just 1 person.
I was reminded of this today at the North Star Women’s Conference at FBCW. Jen Hatmaker was the speaker and there was a section where she and the worship leader Janice Gaines were answering questions that the audience had submitted on cards. One card, while not written by me, probably could have been. It was deeply personal and asked what someone should do when they find it hard to make friends and feel socially awkward.
I can certainly relate.
Socially awkward is my way of saying that I am not good with people. Or more specifically – I am not good with new people. Once you get to know me it is better – but overall, I am not comfortable with people until I spend a lot of time with them. And there are people that no matter how much time I spend, I will always at least feel awkward with them. This is exactly why I can get comfortable with people at work (in my office) and have a harder time in social settings (work or personal).
I felt for the question writer because I am so much like that and it hurt to hear that anyone would know the kind of loneliness that comes with that feeling of un-comfortableness with others. I found myself looking around as if a giant arrow was pointing at me saying “Yep – me too!”.
Jen Hatmaker’s answer in the simplest of terms was that you need to find your “tribe” and that will most likely be the people who are also socially awkward. It may mean that you have to look for people that are normally outcast. The ones it may take YOU a while to get to know vs waiting for people to get to know you. There was more to her answer but this really sums it up well.
I need to find my tribe.
And I should explain – it’s not that I have no friends. I have 3 great close friends that I can count on for almost anything. Except for being here. Matthew is in San Diego. Penny is in South Carolina. Sara (God bless her) is in the Annapolis area but in 6 months they are moving (she is a military wife). My sister (my other closest friend) is in Kentucky. And I am here. I have a small band of friends who I love to see and who I know if I was ever really in need, would be there to chip in. BUT, they fall into the category of people who I don’t see enough to really get comfortable with.
So I am tribe-less for the day-to-day interactions. Tribe-less for the “pick up the phone and plan a lunch” kind of days. Tribe-less for things like movies and weekend day trips. And honestly, it is lonely being tribe-less.
I have made a few movements towards finding a tribe. And for now that is an improvement.