I have a surprising confession to make: I have no close friends. I mean, I’m close with my mother, sisters, and my boyfriend—but outside of family members and the person who plans to spend his life with me? I have no one I could truly call a close friend. Being friendly and bubbly has always come naturally to me, but creating genuine, meaningful close relationships has challenged me since childhood.
You see, I have ADHD, and as a result I’ve always been a little “too much” in one way or another—too loud, too hyper, too talkative, too spacey, too late—you get the point. From a young age, I internalized the idea that even if someone seems to like me, they actually are simply tolerating me. In turn, a deep-seated fear of rejection was created in me that has carried on into adulthood. Putting myself out there more than one time in an attempt to create a close friendship is the most terrifying thing on the planet for me. Rejection (real or perceived) feels like a death, and it takes me a while to recover. Another lovely aspect of my ADHD is obsessive thinking, and I will think about it and analyze it constantly before deciding that that person just doesn’t want to be my friend.
One more confession I believe would be shocking to most everyone who knows me: I’m not the extroverted life of the party I pretend to be! Sure, I can mingle with strangers and make a good first impression, get up in front of a large group of people and give an entertaining performance, and fulfill a social leadership position with no problem (this leads people to assume that I have tons of friends). What you don’t see is the amount of anxiety that precedes these events—or the crash afterward. I genuinely love people, but I vacillate between being charged up by spending time with others and desperately needing to withdraw from the world. I’m what you’d call an “ambivert.” This is just one more aspect of my personality that makes a friendship difficult, and another reason I’m not the easiest person to befriend.
When I moved to Tennessee from Florida last year, I immediately began attending a church (in which I’ve become very involved) and joined a couple of different women’s groups. My expectation was that I’d make at least one close friend through all of this. It’s now a year and a half later, and while I’ve met some wonderful women, things have just never progressed beyond acquaintanceship.
Being a mother to young children adds an additional layer of difficulty in building friendships. As any mama knows, our time is scarce and we are often frazzled. Making the time to invest in others feels next to impossible at this stage of life. Oftentimes, we might not even be as dependable as we’d like to be because—simply put—the kids come first, and they still need a lot at this young age.
Friendship is hard, and motherhood can feel lonely. I long for the type of community and close-knit relationships that others seem to have, but I feel as if maybe it’s just not something I’m good at. Is it me? Is it just this stage of life? Will I have these types of relationships one day? At this point, I’m just not sure about any of these things. However, I can say without a doubt that despite my quirks, I possess a remarkably resilient spirit that will never let me give up on the pursuit of the real community that I crave.