I never really had friends growing up. In fact, I can’t think of one name that comes to mind when I think back on my childhood, including high school. I really wanted to write this for the women out there who truly struggle with building relationships because there are so many benefits of having friends. We are such good mommies and spend the majority of our time happily with our kids. But Mommies need friends too! I think for us, it’s about finding time and balance---but friendship is still definitely needed.
As an adult, I can look back and clearly see how not having friends has affected a big part of me and there are many benefits of having friends.
As a child, we were always moving. Every year we were in a new house and I was at a new school. I was ALWAYS the new kid. By the time I got to high school, I already knew I wouldn’t be there long and there was no reason for me to even try and meet people. I was right. I attended six different high schools.
I remember wanting to go to my high school prom so badly or have a friend to celebrate with on our graduation day. It was little moments like this that made me long for someone---anyone.
I didn’t get a chance to know what it felt like to have a friend to laugh with but I always missed that feeling and I still miss it for my younger self. How could I miss something I never had? Because we are all designed to have personal connections with people. As an adult, I miss not having a friend who I could share childhood memories with.
I developed some habits and carried on a few things into my adult life that were unhealthy.
I was always super shy and insecure. I didn’t know who I was…ever. I always felt lonely and left out. As I got older, I found myself holding me back from relationships because that’s what I always did.
I met someone who I shouldn’t have right after high school. I started working at a restaurant and he was the first guy that showed me any attention. A boyfriend was something I always wanted---so I took the bait.
This is a separate blog post but the point of this is I was so desperate for a personal relationship with someone that I spent my twenties in a physically and mentally abusive marriage. He ended up passing away from a rare health condition. That’s also another blog post.
At this point, I was 29 years old. I moved back to my old town with my children and started a new life. I got remarried to a wonderful man who loves my children as his own. We also had a child together. We are now complete.
One day, my husband asked me who I go to when I need to talk. I said, “You honey.” That got me thinking… I wanted to make friends now.
I started meeting other moms at sports practices, ladies at church or neighbors---but there was always something holding me back from truly getting to know them.
Up until that point, I thought my husband was all I needed. I would tell myself, “He is a good listener and gives great advice. Why do I need friends?”
That’s when it hit me. I didn’t actually think he was all I needed. I still felt that void in my life for a friend. I was self-protecting myself from past insecurities.
Now that I had identified that truth, I couldn’t ignore it. I was starting to see all of the benefits of having friends. I didn’t immediately start looking for my tribe. I didn’t want to force it. However, I was taking the initiative to meet new people.
I spent time praying that God would send me exactly who I needed to come beside me and be a part of my life. It didn’t happen fast---but it happened. Now, I have the most amazing friends I could ask for. They are truly my tribe and I am so thankful for them.
In social terms, a tribe is a group of people with similar values and interests. They are there to support you. They are loyal and trustworthy. They are always there when you need to talk. You can be your true self when you are with them because you know they will not judge you. They encourage you to be the best you can be.
The trick is finding your tribe. We are constantly in contact with people. We all have several people we would call our friends but not everyone will be our tribe. That was the hardest part for me to learn. There is a fine line between your friends and your tribe. You can have many friends but you only have one tribe.
It doesn’t matter the size of your tribe. Quality over quantity is what I like to say. My tribe consists of three people. We are all unique and different in many ways and that’s what we love about each other.
When it comes to overall health one aspect gets pushed to the side. Social health (a.k.a. your tribe) is just as important as mental, emotional and physical health. It is proven that social health can impact a person’s overall health and well-being.
Benefits of having friends include but are not limited to:
If you were like me and didn’t think you needed a tribe, try changing the way you see it and focus on the health aspect of it. Maybe try looking at it as you would exercising or eating healthily. It’s a win/win situation! Health benefits as well as having people to share life with.
This sums it up better than I could if I were trying to explain it.
Who came to your mind when you were reading this? That is your tribe!
There is something special about coffee time with friends. It is a chance to get away and breathe for a couple of hours. You can talk about anything and everything. It’s a place you can go to fill up your cup so you can have more to give to your family.
I realize it might be easier said than done. If you are that mama who hasn’t connected with anyone yet, keep looking. Try joining special interest groups, get involved in a small group at church, volunteer or invite someone over for a playdate. Also, find someone in the same season of life you are in. It helps to have friends who are sharing the same experiences as you.
There have been things I have personally learned over the years. I wish I could go back but of course, that can't happen. All I can do now is to teach my children what I wasn’t taught and that social health is extremely valuable and having at least one good friend who they connect with is one is so important.
Thank you for reading this blog. My name is Sandra Tanner (I'm the one in the middle with my tribe) and I am a wife, mom, and blogger for Optimized Life. I would love for you to take a look at more!