Updated: Jul 8, 2022
For most of my life, friends had come to me.
They were just there, in the seat next to me in class, building on banter at countless jobs, magnetized by potential favor-swapping during networking events . . . They were anywhere and everywhere, effortless and abundant.
Now I lived outside the norm, away from the convenience of forced proximity most experienced through school or work. I had placed myself on a path less traveled, in pursuit of a dream and deeper knowledge of my Self.
Two years ago, we moved to a different state, then the world shut down, and despite a handful of efforts at real connection, nothing really clicked. I was yet to find my people in this new patch of geography, and for the most part, I’d stopped looking.
Sure, I had friends to talk on the phone and text with. Exchange ongoing in-depth convos via audio message. I even had friends that visited from out of town. Plus, the occasional Zoom really did me good. As a highly sensitive, I didn’t need a brimming list of face-to-face engagements. Quite the opposite proved fulfilling. I was nurtured by my dedicated pen pals and almost always empty social calendar. These days, I was alone with my cat most of the time and this now made me happy.
Then someone wonderful showed up. Out of the blue, a kindred spirit materialized in my living room. It was surprising and easy, like an old friend I’d never met before.
It was great.
And then it was over.
I immediately wanted to recreate the eagerness and intrigue of meeting a new human, and getting to know them — through all the firsts. Nerves and not knowing what they’re thinking in any given moment, the exploration of past histories and intimate admissions. How would they react to inconveniences? Were they a good tipper? I couldn’t wait to be surprised.
Could this thing I felt spark up between us survive a different setting?
I didn’t know this person!
But I inexplicably and undeniably liked them . . .
The reason for our proximity was both unexpected and unusual. Propose a friendship? — How? Was it too weird?
Before, friends happened without an ask — just: Hey!, BAM, close now.
Now I was a fish out of water, completely bamboozled by how this was supposed to go down.
Had I never done the asking?
One thing was for certain: I hadn’t asked enough not to dread potential rejection.
Feeling dorky, I drafted a text (with enough planning, I could come across as playing it cool).
Sweetly funny, genuine, honest in a (hopefully) endearing way. A clear ask with an airy, no-pressure nonchalance that (please God) masked my sudden, and quite ravenous, desire for friendship.
Copy. Paste. Eeeeeeekkkk! Doubt-cringe. Send.
Tightness cinched my body. Adrenaline spiking, energy rushing into my throat, pooling in a clog of nervous energy. Regret taking over. Grabbing for my phone every 30 seconds.
Feeling pathetically, breathlessly desperate.
Hours passed and I heavily distracted myself from the response that might never come.
Was I insane?! Had I grossly misread the energy? Would the next time I saw them be painfully awkward now?
Why did I want this so badly?
Why was I holding on so hard?
“I just finished writing my first book, so this is good practice for rejection letters,” I imagined myself explaining with a warm, unaffected giggle when they told me in person why they didn’t want to be my friend.
“I’ve just passed up way too many opportunities to get to know someone,” I’d respond confidently, relaxed yet poised, and unruffled, “so now I just put it out there instead of always wondering.”
This insatiable gal who didn’t care what anybody else thought of her, who laughed in the face of rejection and charged through life with head held high, could be the new me!
I had been mentally prepping for the letdown . . . but maybe I wouldn’t have to.
Maybe it wasn’t so bad. I’d gussied up a little courage, managed an ask, ignored my trepidatious mind for once.
Yeah, I could weather this blow.
And if there wasn’t one?