I sat on the raft shivering, my arms wrapped tight around my legs. I was a scrawny little ten-year-old, and the icy water of early June had left me breathless. But the swim had been worth it.
I was in my own little world on that raft. I loved staring at the water’s glittering surface as the sun reflected like little diamonds off the ripples. I closed me eyes and listened to the sound of the waves lapping against the shore.
But my solitude was soon interrupted by voices across the water. Water dripped down my eyes onto my blue lips as I squinted to try to see the scene unfolding.
A lady had walked out onto the pier. She was wearing a massive, floppy white hat, sunglasses, and a floral caftan that swirled around her ankles in the breeze. I rudely stared, trying to figure out if she was a movie star. She was waving her arms in exasperation at a stout little girl with frizzy blond hair and glasses. I couldn’t make out what she was saying, but the girl nervously shook her head “no” at this flamboyant woman, refusing whatever it was she wanted her to do.
They both kept looking in my direction, and I slowly realized that this exchange had something to do with me. The woman nudged the girl forward while the girl adamantly shook her head. And suddenly, the lady flashed me an imploring smile.
“Hello! Hi there! Excuse me!”
I didn’t answer. I wasn’t sure what to say.
So she continued, “This is Julie! Can she play with you?”
It was obvious to all parties that Julie was mortified by her mother’s advances. And frankly, I had been quite content to play alone. But what was I supposed to say? This was a day and age when you didn’t tell adults no. And I felt a little sorry for this Julie whose mom was clearly embarrassing her.
So I gave a tentative nod and shrug. The mom beamed in victory.
Julie jumped in, sputtering at the frigid water, and swam out to the raft. She climbed up and sat dripping beside me.
“Hello, ” she shivered a greeting from trembling blue lips.
“Hi.” I answered back.
I wasn’t sure what to do with her. I mean, it was an awkward situation for the both of us. I wasn’t really playing, and I wasn’t sure how to include her in my daydreaming. Yet, I felt responsible to entertain her.
The awkwardness soon gave way to fun.
Before long we were jumping in and out of the freezing water, laughing and daring each other to do tricks off the raft. We pretended we were synchronized swimmers choreographing our Olympic routine. We hung out that night, watching movies with popcorn.
And the day after that. And the day after that.
Summer days and nights stretched on and nary a minute went by that we weren’t at each other’s side. And I never forgot how her mom had pushed her to ask me to play.
Like Julie’s mom, I often encourage my kids to introduce themselves to others when we find ourselves in new settings or on playgrounds. And it never takes long for kids to make connections and get busy playing. But most of the time I notice the moms hang back, not talking to each other.
And one day it hit me, do adults need our moms to do this for us still? Because we shouldn’t.
The first step to friendship hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. It’s actually quite simple.
Ask if she’d like to play.
So often we turn meeting others into some big complicated thing. Too often we stay on the sidelines, hesitant to reach out and introduce ourselves. Settling for loneliness or the companionship of a handheld rather than facing an awkward hello. And I wonder how many relationships are missed when we let fear win and don’t take the simple advice our moms gave us.
The next time we find ourselves on the sidelines, it might be up to us to make the first move. Let’s put ourselves out there. And say hello.
We just might find the friend of a lifetime.
Related: Gift this lovely small ring holder to hold your friend’s treasures and thank her for being who she is — a “lovely friend.”Leave a Comment
heather marshall says
Hello Tammie! : ) Thanks for the push to think about really connecting! ♥ It’s something we all need more than ever! It’s easy to be self conscious and think we’re not cool enough (yes even as adults…!) but what if we are exactly what the other person needs just as we are? Here’s to not letting fear push us around when it comes to meeting other people. Happy Monday!
Thanks Heather. I hope it encourages all of us to let down our guard more often.
Bobbie Jo says
I love this!!! I encourage ladies with this same idea often! Thanks for sharing and reminding us all how easy connection can begin! 🙂
Thanks Bobbie! We make it harder than it has to be, don’t we? Hopefully we all can remember how simple connecting with others can be.
Christina McFarland Hubbard says
Ever needed on the playground, at school events, and especially church. Thank you for the reminder to say hello.
Amen to applying this at church!
Good thoughts, Tammie. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.
SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO true!!!!!! May we all be courageous!
April Del Rosario says
This is so beautiful & true. I love it. I need it.
Liz Cordova says
6 yrs ago this month, a few high school friends who flew out of state, who I was recently reconnected through emails came to visit me. They learned of what horrible illness fell on me. Though I hadn’t seen them for 40 some yrs., they dragged me out of the house to meet up other high school friends. I was so scared because my face was scarred from burns & I looked bloated from all the meds given to me. My eyelids too were burned so had to wear sunglasses even indoors to protect them from glaring lights. I was reintroduced to an elementary classmate whose voice I recognized. I gave that classmate a hug hello despite my fears of being rejected from my physical appearance. Did you know God put that friend in my path to encourage me. We have so much commonality- voracious readers, same profession, practically neighbors, similar moral values,! That same friend took me to many doc appts & to my dad before he passed away. It afforded healing for me through those encouragements. Now I just need Jedus’2nd touch so I can see in a sustained fashion without pain.,,
Thank you so much for sharing your story. What a great reminder to all of us!
Cindy Kempert says
Just entering a new situation, and so needed to read these words today…thank you!!
The simplicity of making new friends simply starts with a greeting…
LaToya Brown says
This was a good reminder Tammie. I’m a mother of three and although I encourage my children. To “go play,” I find it’s still a hard thing for me to do. I thought my shyness would go away when I had kids, but it still takes quite the effort for me to say “Hi, how are you?” I think I’ll make more of a conscious effort, despite the butterflies, to at least practice friendliness.
SO glad to hear this. It can seem risky and vulnerable but you just never know what friendships might result.
Beth Williams says
I used to be super shy and would not introduce myself at all! I guess it was due to my lack of hearing & speech impediment!! It has taken a long time, but now I am more of an outgoing person. We attend a small church. It is so easy to recognize a “newbie” amongst us and I always try to go up and say hello to them. Want them to feel welcome!!
That is so awesome that you take the initiative to reach out to newcomers. Thanks for sharing.
Christy Davis says
Thanks so much for this. ….it’s just what I needed to read. I am the one who talks to everyone but has no “friends” . As a mom I spend all my time devoted to my kids and husband. Well this week I was honest to a couple other ladies at our weekly bible study about just being lonely…too my surprise they had been feeling the same way. Long story short….we are starting a moms night out group at our church! This was just the push I needed and now God has opened up so many other doors just bc I opened my mouth! !#
You are spot on. So many women feel isolated and lonely. How great that you all were just honest with each other about it. Have fun at the girls nights!!
Heidi Buschbach says
I can’t believe you are on (in)courage!! Oh My goodness! 🙂
Leonie Whelan says
Hello Tammie:-) What a beautiful article you just wrote and shared. Thank you so much for the encouragement. I used to be just like that…reaching out and saying hello to everyone I met and getting into conversations quickly, often sharing too much too soon. But I simply loved interacting with people and sharing. Things have changed over the years. I’ve withdrawn a lot and now move around most days on my own. It may have come after great loss in my life, losing the people I counted on most who always made me feel very loved and special and that I belonged. This left a HUGE void and ache in my heart. It was overwhelming to lose so many people who always connected with me, always wanted to see me and made me feel very special. I sometimes asked God why He took the very people who loved me so much and who I loved and cared for deeply. Why, with the sudden loss of my father who was my ‘world’ at the age of fifteen. Why did God take a strong man of 48 years of age who was our provider, away leaving us pretty much destitute. My mom almost became absent emotionally as she struggled with her own grief and being left alone with four young children to care for and little money to survive. Four months later we were on a ship bound for Australia to stay with my Grandmother who wanted to meet us before she passed away. We lived with her in her home and in just 6 months, she passed away in her home. This was a double whammy for my mother who had lived away from her family for more than 18 years. We had to leave that old home as it was to be demolished and find other accommodation. It was hard as we struggled with little money and a mother who lived with depression and suicidal thoughts. Her extended family had basically moved on with their lives and lived in another State and there was not much support for her. My brother and I loathed this new country with people who did not seem to like us and we were constantly homesick for our own country and extended family and friends that we left behind. After my own marriage broke down and the death of my mom, I left Australia with my young son and went back to South Africa where I felt more connected with family and friends. I picked up more energy and lived a great life back ‘home’ being connected with the people I loved. Then the loss of some close family members and friends. My son who was now grown up and married himself, was living back in Australia. He constantly phoned me and pushed me to come back ‘home’ which was back in Australia. He too had lived in other places of the world and only returned to Australia a few years later. I resisted as I had tried returning many times only to go back ‘home’. He finally married an Australia girl and his wife was expecting their first baby, I got a more persistent phone call from my son, begging me to come back and be closer so that we could be more united as a family. I was in turmoil as, apart from missing my son, I had no emotional ties really with Australia and was living in a beautiful part of Cape Town hosting foreign students and meeting people from all over the world. I loved living in South Africa very much and there was always something to do. It was a very exciting place to live and most scenic…a daily feast for the eyes to behold. I was extremely nostalgic about all around me. To cut a long story short, with a lot of manipulation and me feeling guilty for making my son worry about me living in a ‘dangerous’ country and so far away from him (‘who was going to look after me when i became old or sick’?), I eventually gave in and returned. I would go back each year to visit my family for 3 months. This helped me a lot as I felt I could easily get work in Australia, whereas in Sth Africa, with ‘affirmative action’ or ‘AA’ as they call it, you struggled to find work because you were ‘white’ and there was no social welfare that you could get, and I was entitled to, when things became tough or you found yourself without a job. This was some comfort for me and that I finally got the job I loved most, working as a Carer for aged people doing in-home care. I finally have come to accept that this is now my new home and after almost 5 years of housesitting while I worked and saved, I finally have found a small unit of my own that I am now renting out while I continue to pay off more of the home loan so that I can eventually move in myself and afford to pay myself. I just find that I don’t get to see much of my son and his wife and grandchildren. There are few invitations as my d-i-l is very attached to her own family and spends most of her time with her own mother close by. I have met many women in similar situations who have left their homes in other countries or States in the country to live closer to their children, only to find that they hardly get invited to visit and rarely get visits from their children. How sad it is when you are so much a ‘family person’ such as myself and many others, who need and want to be closer to your family or family that enjoy having you around (as did my family back in S.A.) At the end of the day, I live my life over here with a sense of emptiness and sadness that I don’t really feel that same excitement and enthusiasm that I had when in my own home country. Missing all that beauty and excitement around me in a country ever changing. I have lost something great but because of my age, and financial situation, I can’t pack up and go back to live there. It’s far too expensive and there is no financial assistance. I now say “Thank you God for all you have provided me with and for my health and family and my job”. It’s just that I know I have lost that ‘spark’ and enthusiasm/excitement I had, that sense of adventure. I know my son did need me at the time, but now he is always so ‘busy’ literally his job takes up most of his time and my d-i-l, a lovely girl, is really most at home with her own family. We are very different. I just feel that I have become much more withdrawn and as someone once said, a sad person. I love reading all the ‘encourage me’ articles and am very grateful there such wonderful, caring people such as Holley and yourself among other beautiful women with a heart for God and people. Thank you for all your encouraging messages. Hope my story has not been too negative or long, I just felt like talking to you. I see a beautiful soul on the other side of the world and say THANK YOU for sharing and listening. Have a wonderful, blessed day:-) xx