I am the friend who pops in and out of your life. I’ll respond to messages (usually), but may not reach out to you on any kind of regular basis. On the surface, it appears that I am simply a flaky, bad friend. Maybe I am. There is more to it though. Being social does not come naturally to me, and isolation appears to be my default setting. If I’m not actively making an effort to combat it, isolation wins every time. Even though I was shy as a child, I made dear friends when I was younger and managed to step outside of myself completely during my teenage years. Over the years though, I seem to have regressed to the very young child I once was, who had trouble with most social situations. Trust me, I don’t like being this way.
It’s Not Just Me Anymore
There is now an additional challenge. You see it’s not just me anymore, I also have a daughter who I love fiercely, who is just like me: shy, painfully so at times. I no longer just need to find the energy to help myself, I need to find the energy to help her. The last thing I want is for her to be socially isolated because of me. I know firsthand how important it is that she makes an effort to make good friends. My friends were my lifeline growing up, and I want so badly for her to have the second family that friends become.
My daughter is a four-year-old bundle of energy. She is smart, beautiful inside and out, caring, hilarious, and so much fun to spend time with. However, when others are around she often retreats into herself. Hanging out with other moms and kids is often difficult, especially in large groups or with new people. My daughter clings to me and sometimes does not look at others or speak. I know she wants to play with the other children but is too scared to do so. I want to chat with the other parents, but am often unable to do so as Eva plays alone and does nothing without my full attention.
My daughter’s shyness and reserve are two of the many things I love about her. She wouldn’t be who she is without them, and she is perfect to me. However, I know I need to help her step out of her comfort zone at times, so she can make close friends, have fun, and let others see her true self. I want others to see the girl that I see every day. Recently, she has made great strides in one-on-one situations, and I hope she will be able to do this in groups as well. I will continue to encourage her in social situations, offer unconditional support, and speak with her about her self-consciousness and anxiety.
I am not writing this to complain, or make excuses, but rather to share my hope. I see a bright future for my daughter, a path which with my help, will hopefully be smoother than my own. Along our journey, I plan to be accepting many more invitations and even extending some of my own. Please understand that if I do miss events, it is not because I don’t want to be there. It is not because my daughter doesn’t want to be there. It is a lot to ask, but please don’t stop inviting us. We truly want to come, and the invite means more to me than you know. And I promise you, I will never stop pushing.