Updated: May 8, 2021
“What am I doing?”
In summer 2018 this was exactly the way I felt. I felt—stuck. Unfulfilled. Empty.
I had been enjoying the company of several friends for the last couple of years, but something just didn’t feel right anymore. One of them kept making fun of the south. But I was Southern, and the way the comments were phrased just felt insensitive. Another one wouldn’t stop complaining. Everything was so negative. Had the comments always been this bad? What was different about it now? I didn’t want to be around someone who dragged the group down. I never liked hanging around complaining, so why was I accepting it? The world deals us enough hardship without us making it worse.
Thank goodness I would be leaving in the next couple of months. Is this why I felt so disconnected from my friend group? Maybe so, but a distinct gnawing in my gut told me that it was time to leave not only my location, but my friends as well. Not that they were bad people—but I just wasn’t growing anymore. I’m not sure I had grown with them at all, actually. Sure, I had some fun. But I also felt like I was swimming in a dirty pond of stagnant water that had been dammed up. There was no spring feeding into the pond, nothing to give the pond life. No vegetation, no wildlife. The group felt satisfied with mediocrity, but I wasn’t.
"...a distinct gnawing in my gut told me that it was time to leave not only my location, but my friends as well."
In July of that year, I packed up my car to the brim and drove south to Louisiana, the home of my grandparents and ancestors. I instantly loved it. The food, the weather, the friendly atmosphere. It was everything I had dreamed it would be. The last three years of my life had been rough at times—I lived a life that fit little about me. I overworked myself, fighting traffic in a big city and cooped myself up most nights in my room binge-watching TV. I held too many jobs and too little friends. When I met people, I didn’t see them enough to stay in touch. Those I did stay in touch with often turned out to be toxic and used me as a sole anchor to combat their loneliness and suck what little life I had left after stress. Gossip and negativity filled my ears and lips and the choices I made in confidantes were questionable. But with so few good friends, I had no kind advice or merciful arms to fall into. Rather, coworkers scoffed with harsh criticisms and roommates looked on with questionable eyes. Only my sensible sister warned me what I was doing with my life. Even then, I didn’t listen.
Then without warning, a lingering illness brought me to my senses. With the influence of my cousins and the help of a gentle therapist, I began to live life differently. I was determined to live differently when I moved to Louisiana. This time, I would not end up friendless.
September 14, 2018. I had been living in Louisiana a couple months. I had signed up for a church newsletter for this “young person’s church” and soon heard about a community night happening on a Friday. I emailed the lady who was on the brochure. “The girl singing tonight is about your age,” a nice lady wrote back. Sweet. At least there was one person in their mid-late twenties in Louisiana besides me.
At the community night, I stood awkwardly making small talk as I clutched my drink. The lady I had emailed came over and introduced me to the singer. She was tall, had long black hair with purple ends, a nose ring and a loose-fitting black dress.
“Hi I’m Krista!” she said eagerly. “Hi,” I replied. We shook hands. “There’s a bunch of us that go here and a lot of us are going to the Grass Room later; do you want to come?” With excitement and borderline aggression, Krista asked me different versions of this same statement/question about three times. I couldn’t tell you the order; what stuck out to me was her joyful, friendly nature. “Am I too much; I’m probably coming on too strong,” she added more than once.
“No, no, it’s good,” I said, and I meant it. As a newly realized extrovert, I was overjoyed to be meeting a new person who could give off as much enthusiasm as me. Krista instantly gave me her number and the name of the place. I knew that I had to get up early the next morning for work, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t passing up any more opportunities to live a life with all work and no play.
Later that evening, I ran into Krista at the Grouse Room (not “grass room”, apparently) with two other friends. One of them was Amber. Amber too was welcoming and gave off a kind and calming presence. She described the friend group as good people but not stuck up. It sounded exactly like what I was looking for. I met two of the guys that night as well, both equally as kind and friendly. Later that night, Amber asked if I wanted to come to a festival the next day. Of course. Once again, it was time to say yes.
I went home that night feeling that something important had happened. Already, I’d learned these new friends loved Harry Potter, Cajun culture, and personality types just as much as I did. We had favorite Disney princesses and Disney movies. We just—fit. As time has passed, more people have come into our group as I first did—eager and excited to be part of something special. And that feeling—the empty one that I felt with my old friends, of being in a stagnant pond—is gone. Hanging out with my Louisiana friends brought me life and growth; the pond grew into a lake and the dam has been destroyed. Now, the water can flow freely over the wounds of my heart. With this group, I have laughed, cried; there have been hard talks and lost tempers but also good tears and warm hugs. In each other’s presence, we learn to forgive and to let go. We consider the other’s feelings and personality when speaking to their heart. We are not perfect, but we always strive for love. We cherish each other’s differences; laugh at the eccentricities. Thanksgiving may have passed, but I remain thankful for these friends that have become some of the best.
"...my Louisiana friends brought me life and growth."
Here at Friendship Explored, we’re excited to be a part of your journey to finding and cherishing authentic friendship. As the Holidays approach, don’t forget about those friends that don’t have families to celebrate with this season. Reach out to that person that seems quiet, awkward, or even a little mean. You never know what kind of treasure lies beneath the surface. Send a card or text to someone you know going through a hard time. If you’ve ever seen the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” you know what difference a few kind words can make. This Holiday season, remember Clarence’s words to George Bailey: “No one is a failure who has friends.” Each of their hearts are more than worth exploring.
"We're excited to be a part of your journey to finding and cherishing authentic friendship."