Fun fact about me: I can’t say I’ve lived in one location for an extended length of time since I was eight years old. Extended period being in my case, no longer than three years. Military brat? Hah! As if I’m going to have a simple explanation for my life happenings. No, that would make too much sense. My mom was a traveling nurse, actually, and I spent some time living with my dad too. You would think someone who moved so often would be a pro at making friends and building relationships. And you’d be wrong! I’m incredibly shy and live about 75 percent of my life inside my head. The thought of small talk makes me anxious, and upon talking to new people that I find interesting, I suddenly feel like everything I do is abnormal.
How fast am I blinking? Do people breathe like this normally? WHAT THE HECK DO I DO WITH MY HANDS? THEY’RE JUST…THERE! ARE THEY ALWAYS LIKE THAT? I’m sitting back down.
Do you know what I did when I first transfered to my college? I’d get self conscious sometimes about walking around campus alone, so when someone would come up behind me, I’d start matching their stride so it looked like I was walking with them. Is that as creepy as I’m sure it sounded? I probably should have never admitted that. Well it didn’t last very long so relax! One day I was walking to the student center and this group of I think four guys came up next to me. I matched their speed and walked along with them. But then, from my left I hear, “What what? Yeah! What what,” being mumbled from one guy. Then another one started flicking their hands and flailing to the..just…sorry beatboxing of the other kid. To this day I have no clue what was happening around me. It was only hilarious after a day or two. In the moment I slowed down, let them pass, and just went to a different building, all the while thinking to myself, oh God, what is my life? So that’s how awkward I am when left to my own devices..
Most of my friends had to approach me, and friendship blossomed from there. Well, maybe not right from there. Apparently I’ve made some pretty terrible first impressions over the years. And then they had to weed through several layers of strange to finally see, hey there’s a caring, funny, nice most of the time person at the core of this weirdo. I think I’ll keep her around. The friends that have shared those stories with me of when we first met have ended up some of my closest, so it’s really thanks to the patience of some very special people that I’m not a total recluse.
Of course, I can’t rely on the kindness of strangers all of the time. I have to take initiative and make my own friends at some point. There are a few lovely people I have had the pleasure of knowing that are just beautiful social butterflies, and are really good at talking to people. So much so that, they’ve unknowingly left an impression on me, and I’ve taken what I’ve observed from them and applied to my many moves.
It’s of course obvious to be nice to people. But one of my friends from Florida gave nice a whole new meaning. She moved to Tampa in the middle of sophmore year or so. I took it upon myself to always introduce myself to new students, because if anyone knew how that felt, it was surely me. I knew a decent amount of people in my class, and had a large group of friends but I had been there for two years. This girl practically ran the school in a matter of months, on kindness alone! She is the sweetest person I’ve probably ever met, and everyone just wanted to know her. It was pretty awesome.
Now there’s no way I can exude so much pure joy at every waking moment like she can, she is truly a one in a million kind of lovely. I have that dark edge that often accompanies artistry that I can’t shake. I’m not yet at brooding but I am pretty moody and a bit too transparent. But what I did learn from her that I could do was to get involved in our school. Any club you could think of, she was a member or an officer. She dragged me to a lot of meetings but I couldn’t keep up, nor did I see the difference it made at the time.
When I moved to California during my junior year, I was inspired by my friend to join some clubs. I joined a bunch and even started my own knitting and crocheting club. I made a lot of friends, and I have some amazing, close friends that I would have never met had I not gotten involved in school activities. Like Agent M! I taught her how to knit back in high school. And we became besties thanks to that crazy club. And I made some great friends by going to football games at school too, something I never had any interest in doing until my friend from Tampa asked me to go with her. So yeah, I thank her for getting me to realize those things and making me a more social person by just being too amazing to ignore. I mean, only a vegetable would be impervious to her light. I’m obsessed with this Daily Odd Compliment tumblr, and I found this one fitting..
I have another friend whom I’ve learned from. I can’t tell you how we met, because I don’t remember. It was my second semester in college though…or maybe it was my first semester? Third? I don’t even know when. See, he just starts talking as if he’s always known you. It rubs some people the wrong way, but I love talking to strangers, and I don’t understand how to make small talk, so it was a perfect tactic for me! Also, he gives really good hugs, so we got along great. I swear that kid is a social ninja. He infiltrates your social life, and seamlessly assimilates until you can’t remember a time when he wasn’t there.
Something I don’t always realize is that my thoughts aren’t anything novel. Most everyone gets nervous talking to new people. What do I say? What do they like? But really, what does it matter? My friend taught me that it doesn’t. I don’t think I even knew his name for a week or two after “meeting” him. We’d just start talking when we saw each other. And he became friends with everyone around me in the same manner, and we never remembered different.
It’s a rather unconventional approach to friendship, and not everyone responds enthusiastically. But it’s fun. And the relationships that do grow out of those random interactions become the most interesting. Because if someone is willing to just start speaking and joking with you as if you’ve been doing so for years, they’re probably the type of person who’s adventurous and a little crazy. Which just means super happy fun time had by all involved. And many of those times have been had since then. It’s tough to find an Odd Compliment just odd enough to fit this friend, but I think this one should suffice.. Like if you were to sum up all of the conversations had with him and my other friends, it’d probably amount to this.
Well I’ve moved yet again since then, and I’m excited to see what kind of friendships I build here in Philadelphia. My first year at school was pretty busy, but next semester should be more chill, and I intend on joining some clubs, and actually attending meetings for the clubs I’ve already signed up for. There’s even a knitting club here that I’m excited to meet with. And summer break is one ten page paper away, so I’ll be out and about just making inside jokes with random people in the coffee shops I frequent and at all the concerts and festivals I plan on attending. This should be fun. Any stories particularly noteworthy, I’ll maybe share. Yeah..cool things.