Stressed to Impress

I’m a little weird. I don’t advertise that, but if you’re around me for more than a few days, you’ll begin to notice the quirks. I don’t always think the same way others do, don’t typically react the same way others do, and in general don’t get phased by what goes on around me.

I was not always comfortable with this.

Back in the DAY (sorry, I totally did that to embarrass my kids); I had some serious issues about my weirdness. I couldn’t understand what it was about me that made me seem “off”.  Why couldn’t I be more like Girl X or Y, or for heaven’s sake, even Z?  They seemed to have it all together. And I wanted to be near them—to be like them—because of it.

If you’re like most women, you’ve had your days of chasing the “girls” you’d like to be too. You may have tried to squeeze your way into a group in which you clearly didn’t belong. Or, you may have lamented why certain friendships seemed unattainable to you.

As all wise women testify (and we’re all wise, Mamas, claim it), life becomes a lot easier when we become comfortable with ourselves. When we quit worrying about whether or not we fit in, and instead consider whether or not we really want to fit in.

As I look back on my teenage years, and watch my own daughter enter into hers, I can see with clear vision now that those girls I so strived to be like were actually nothing like me. We had zippo in common, and our friendships would never have survived past graduation. Looking back, it seems to me that what I saw in them that I wanted was their ability to be comfortable with themselves. The fearless ability to be okay—even in their weirdness.

I can’t really peg the day that I decided I was okay. But, I’m pretty sure it was close to the day that I realized that God saw me as “okay” too. It took a huge burden off of my shoulders to realize that someone not only appreciated me and my quirks, but that He planned them to be there—like, on purpose people.

If you have a child who is struggling to make friends, maybe it’s not an issue of friendship, but one of learning to be themselves. And while this in and of itself is hard for any of us; it’s immensely easier when we (and they) realize that everything about them—EVERYTHING—serves a purpose for God.

And while we weren’t necessarily made to “fit in”, we are all certainly in need of likeminded friends to join us on this journey of being different—this walk with Christ.

Do you have a child who struggles to make strong friendships? Do they seem to long to be in a crowd that doesn’t make sense to you? Do they struggle to connect with anyone?

Try these talking points with your kids to help them ease into being themselves around others:

  • The other kids are just as scared as you are.
  • Being yourself around others give them the confidence to be themselves too.
  • Humor is the quickest road to friendship.
  • Don’t stress over popularity. Most adults can look back on their high school years and agree: the most popular kids didn’t always finish well, later in life.
  • When you go into a room, pick out someone who seems the most like you in some way. (See list below)

Help Your Child Narrow Their Friend Focus

Have your child run through this exercise to help them pinpoint possible friendships that have a lasting strength:

  • Make a list of 10 things you like about yourself.
    • Beside each item you like about yourself, list another person that you also admire that trait in.
  • Make a list of 10 things you like to do, or would like to learn how to do.
    • Beside each item you like to do, or would like to learn to do, list another person that already does that or also has an interest in it.
  • Make a list of 10 things you look for in a friend.
    • Beside each item you look for in a friend, list another person that shares that trait.
  • Take the 3 lists and circle any names that arise more than once. Those people whose names appeared multiple times, are a GREAT place to start when looking for friends in which you can be yourself.

 

Over time, your kids will learn to be who they are, where they are, all the time. Building friendships, builds confidence. Give them lots of grace as they learn the best way to connect. But, remind them always, that they are perfect (and purposed) just the way they are.

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