I Carried A Watermelon

How do you make friends?

That’s a genuine question. Social situations (at least for me), are like watching cricket: I’ve learned to clap in the right places, but sometime I still haven’t a clue what’s going on. I’m getting better, but I struggle.

Where do people learn to do this stuff?  Smiling and breathing and talking, all at the same time. Putting jokes in appropriate places.  Making the right noises.  The fine head angle between ‘I’m interested’ and ‘I’m a stalker’. Learning how to insert and extricate oneself from human clumps.  Remembering to check your teeth for spinach  and wait..WAIT before jumping in with your own story about howyouboughttheyoghurtthatdaywhenyouwenttotheshops.

Some folks make it look so easy – they assimilate at parties like a waft of delicious perfume:  drifting easily from one delighted nostril to another and creating  mexican ripples of appreciation and admiration.

Others are more like faint pongs.  Embarrassed, we congregate in corners and wedge ourselves into tiny spaces.  We choke on canapes and punchlines. Miss our cues and blurt out secrets. Then spend the rest of the evening, replaying our gaffes in glorious technicolour.

I guess it’s got a lot to do with expectations.  Mainly my own.  I forget that other people are just well, people.  They’re not film stars and this is not an audition.  They’re human and they’re flawed and guess what, they have hang-ups too.  They don’t need me to entertain them or to apologise or put on a mask.  I can be myself and they can be themselves and sometimes that’s messy, but sometimes it’s actually really cool.



8 thoughts on “I Carried A Watermelon

  1. Emma, totally with you on this! I still feel I haven’t a clue about how “the rules” of conversation and social interaction work — I feel like most of my life is taken up with observing others and listening to them to see how it’s done. And then the odd time I give it a go and it’s so exhausting I have to retreat after a few minutes.

    Thank you for this perspective. How good to know that among the people of Jesus we can own up to this and be ourselves without fear of humiliation — for our life flows out of *His* shame and humiliation.

  2. I’m pretty sure nearly everyone feels this way, but not everyone wants to admit it…relating to people is H-A-R-D! And somehow it’s getting harder. Before I had kids I was fairly sociable, but now I feel I have nothing interesting to offer, since my kids are my family, my job, my hobby, my mission field, my life…They take up all of my time and brainspace, but apparently they’re not as interesting to other people as they are to me. Who’d ‘a’ thought?!
    It’s what is SO great about Jesus – knowing He knows me – all of me – and still wants to be near me :)

  3. I think ‘making friends’ and ‘social interaction’ aren’t really the same skills. After a lot of practice at university I got better at the ‘social interaction’ a bit, mainly by cracking lots of jokes. It makes meeting people easier, but if anything it just gives you a facade to hide behind and prevents you getting to know people properly and becoming real friends.

    I wonder if people who don’t necessarily perform the best in a social context, end up being better friends to people because they actually connect with them as a real person.

  4. You can have all the social skills in the world and still totally miss genuinely connecting with anyone – it can all be ‘nice’ (to refer to an earlier Emma mailing) and entirely superficial – just like clapping at a sports event, or, far worse, totally delusional (like the pharisee who ‘saw’ himself as not like others). It’s far better to be sober about what we see in the mirror and to be ourselves before others – sinners, saved by grace. It’s in our weakness that there can be ‘room’ for real strength. Real friends really know you, and still love you.

  5. Hi Andrew – yes, it’s incredibly liberating, not just to be among a broken people, but to have a Saviour who also understands our struggles.

  6. Thanks Sarah. It’s good to be reminded that, whether mums or medics we all struggle – but we’re also loved – for ourselves- by Jesus. What a relief!

  7. Great point Jon. As you’ve highlighted, social confidence isn’t the same as friendship – though I often conflate the two.And in fact, being socially awkward can even be an advantage, as it can make us more compassionate and real.

  8. Sinners saved by grace and able to be ourselves before others. Praying that I will remember this Howard.

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