Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

Once upon a time, I was a very social person.

I was not an extrovert, per se. I was never the life of the party, the reason people showed up to the cookout. But I appreciated a gathering of human beings, and I sought out relationships with a notable gusto.

I was also an open book. If the Walmart cashier asked me how I was doing, by golly she was going to find out. “So, anyway, if I had it to do over, I would’ve left the banana bread in another five minutes or so . . .” you could hear me say as I gathered my bags and the cashier stared at me blankly, having just heard an entire rundown of my week in the six minutes it took to ring me up.

Way back in high school, I was involved in the clubs and sports and went to most of the events. I was even on homecoming court if that counts for anything in your mid-30s. (Spoiler: it doesn’t.)

This character trait stems from several things, namely, well . . . I don’t know really. My mom is a self-proclaimed anti-social homebody, and she has the lack of social media to prove it. Maybe I get it from my dad. But he was a total no-show since childhood so who’s to say? Maybe he had too many social gatherings on his calendar to jot me in.

RELATED: Check in With Your Extroverted Friend, She’s Lonely Too

Regardless, for most of my life, I have been quick to agree to get-togethers and have filled up my days with play dates and coffee dates and Bible studies. I sought out people’s stories, and I am a great listener. When we lived overseas, our house helper joked that sometimes she didn’t know if she worked at a house or a hotel because we had so many visitors. (At least I think she was joking . . .)

Yet somewhere along the way, something changed.

I could say, “Well, you know, COVID.” But that isn’t it. It was a soul-weariness that I couldn’t shake; something internal that shifted pre-pandemic.

After some soul-searching, I finally realized it stemmed from a lot of pursuing and very little fruit for my labor. I was socially spread a mile wide but only an inch deep. I was drained and had nothing of substance to show for it.

So, I decided to pause the pursuit.

I am learning to say no when I need to and yes only when it is life-giving.

And it is freeing.

Because seasons change and what used to be energizing is now exhausting. If I’m honest, I don’t have the fortitude to start from scratch right now.

Adult friendship is hard work.

It’s not like when you are a kid and you meet someone on the playground who looks to be about your age and you ask if they like dolls and they say yes and so you play Barbies together and suddenly you are BFFs.

It’s more like, “I’m free Tuesdays after 3 p.m. but before 5 p.m. and every third Thursday of the month but only before 1 p.m. and next January I have six slots open, but they are filling up quickly so let me know ASAP.”

*Slow blink*

I know this is not unique to me. I hear other women talking about this longing for true friendship and this elusive pursuit for our people. I also hear about the discouragement that comes when it just isn’t happening.

RELATED: Life is Too Short for Fake Cheese and Fake Friends

I don’t believe this phenomenon is anyone’s fault. The good Lord knows it’s not for lack of trying! I would offer that the culture cultivated in America over the last century that rewards work and progress and downplays rest and relationships at the expense of everyone’s mental and emotional well-being has contributed. But that is a separate blog post.

Nevertheless, I am resting from the pursuit.

As an adult with growing kids and a spouse whose work schedule is whack and with a homeschool curriculum judging me from the shelf in the corner because I skipped two days last week and soccer practice and #life, I don’t have a lot of energy left for the effort required to build the foundation of a solid friendship. At least not the ones we fantasize about from movies where they’re living their excessively busy lives but somehow still manage to have Saturday get-togethers and girls’ nights on the reg.

So, I gave myself a break from friendshipping.

(Friendshipping, Verb: the pursuit of new friendships. My name is Ashley and I invent words.)

It doesn’t mean I am giving up on friendship altogether, but simply pausing the pursuit of those deeply longed-for relationships I haven’t found quite yet. I am choosing to invest my time in my kids, my husband, myself, and the friendships I already have even if they are from a distance. For now, that is all I can do and still maintain my sanity.

And it is enough.

If you feel overwhelmed by the quest for your people, consider this your permission to hit pause, too. You can try again when you’re ready.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Ashley Whittemore

Ashley is a recovering people pleaser, former ex-pat, and writer. Married to her high school sweetheart, together they have three children whom she homeschools while trying to drink her coffee fast enough since they don't own a microwave.

I Can’t Be Everyone’s Chick-fil-A Sauce

In: Friendship, Journal, Living, Relationships
woman smiling in the sun

A couple of friends and I went and grabbed lunch at Chick-fil-A a couple of weeks ago. It was delightful. We spent roughly $20 apiece, and our kids ran in and out of the play area barefoot and stinky and begged us for ice cream, to which we responded, “Not until you finish your nuggets,” to which they responded with a whine, and then ran off again like a bolt of crazy energy. One friend had to climb into the play tubes a few times to save her 22-month-old, but it was still worth every penny. Every. Single. One. Even...

Keep Reading

I’m An Introverted People Person

In: Friendship, Living
Two friends talking

“I’m not a people person.” I’ve said that my entire life. I’m very much an introvert. I’m content with time alone, and that’s what rejuvenates me. The thought of being with a lot of people at once is exhausting. RELATED: I’m Not Stuck-Up, I’m Just Socially Exhausted But you know what? My husband made an astute observation recently that restructured my thinking on the phrase I’m not a people person. “You’re not a crowd person, but I think you’re a people person. You have a heart for people,” he said. OK, I would agree with that. “When you are one-on-one...

Keep Reading

Good, Long Distance Friendship is Hard But So Worth it

In: Friendship
Woman getting into car

I cry every time she arrives, and I cry every time she leaves. Because each time I see her, I feel a little more like myself, and each time she leaves, I feel like a big piece of my heart drives away in her car. Because one of my very dearest friends lives far away. And it’s just hard. We can’t just hop in the car and meet for coffee. We don’t make weekly shopping runs to Target when we both need to get out of the house, and I can’t run her over a plate of cookies when she...

Keep Reading