A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” ~Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV)

Growing up and through high school, I was very shy and insecure. Somehow, I’d gotten the impression that others would reject me if they really knew me. That it was better to stay quiet and out of sight on the perimeter of the crowd than to be singled out for attention.

I remember my mother quoting the first half of the above verse many times. My heart longed to have friends, but fear held me back. Instead of being friendly and reaching out to people who probably felt the same fears I did, I withdrew into myself, filled my journal with angst and bad poetry, and tried to be content knowing I had one Friend in Jesus who stuck much closer than my often bratty, younger brothers.

Until I packed to go away to college. Something clicked in my head and heart. If I was ever going to change the perceptions of others, it was the perfect opportunity to start fresh. If I was ever going to show on the outside the person I’d become on the inside, it was time to take the risk and be friendly.

Be friendly. Two extremely hard words for an introvert. But I tried. I made eye contact. I asked about the people I met. I made a point to remember their names. And in the chaos of moving into dorms, lots of other people were doing the same thing. Before I knew it, I had a host of friends. And (shocker!), they actually liked me and my sometimes-quirky sense of humor. I gained confidence through those friendships and returned home from college a changed person.

It’s a life lesson that has stuck with me ever since. If I want to have friends, I must be a friend. Take the initiative and reach out. Because, very likely, the person I approach might just be too shy to make the first move.

What about you? Do you find it easy to make friends? Or are you the shy-type who struggles in a crowd? What does “be friendly” look like to you?

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Making Friends
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