I moved across the country 9 months ago. It has been a wonderful adventure and I am happy here, but damn is it hard to make friends as an adult.
("Adult", she types, while wearing her Grinch pajamas).
I have always had trouble making friends, honestly. People seem to have a hard time believing this because I tend to come across as an extrovert, or because I'm "likable" (as some kind acquaintances have reassured me). However, for whatever reason, I've always struggled with it.
I'm sure part of it has to do with my revolutionary communication skills; I'm just a hair below "Plants" in that area (but well above "Inanimate Objects" thankyouverymuch). As well as my tendency to keep things private. My difficulty with, and sensitivity to, vulnerability, skews things I think. i.e. from what people have explained, I tend to think I have been very open when, as it turns out, I haven't revealed nearly as much as I thought. And being an extroverted introvert doesn't quite move things along either. I prefer being alone, I *need* to be alone to recharge with my chronic illnesses, and I'm pretty sure I have a bit of social anxiety (none of which may be obvious to most people).
Back home, it took me 10 years but I made some really amazing friends that I was OK and excited to leave my house to hang out with! So I have been trying to put myself out there a bit more here and meet new people. Because the friends I do have are incredible, and I do enjoy being connected to people even though I'm like, 85% hermit.
Anyway, a girl I met here invited me to go hiking with her next weekend and, aside from my typical anxiety, I am excited! I love hikes. I love nature and adventure. This girl is hilarious and kind and smart and one of the good ones.
But, then I found out that the hike is 6 miles long... I can't hike 6 miles. I can't walk 6 miles. I can barely walk 1.
On a whole, I feel I've adjusted to my chronic illnesses well. I'm respecting my limitations, sometimes I can even appreciate them. And I'm not ashamed of my illnesses by any means, but when I found out the hike was 6 miles, I broke down into big crocodile tears while sitting on my couch.
I know this girl would be totally understanding of my limits. I know all I would have to say is, "I'm not sure I can hike that far" or even go further and explain why. And she would happily find us another, shorter route and it all would be good.
But I don't want to tell her. I don't want to tell her because it's been nice being here and having people see me outside of my illnesses. Of them not knowing. Of feeling well enough I can come across as a somewhat typical 30 year-old extroverted introvert with communication skills that rival ferns. Of feeling like I'm Just Sarah and not Sarah Who Has to Weigh Every Single Thing She Does Every Single Day Or Else.
So, I don't know. I don't know where I was going with this. If I was really going anywhere at all. At least, no where other than it makes me sad. It makes me sad that I can't just go on a 6 mile hike like most people might be able to. It makes me sad that I have to weigh out these conversations with people. It makes me sad that—even though it's OK I have these illnesses, that I am lucky in so many ways, that I CAN go hike—I'm a different Sarah than I used to be.
And, don't get me wrong, I like who I am now. I really do. And it will be better tomorrow. I will process it, I will be able to tell her of my limitations. And it will be a great hike with a potential new friend.
But, tonight, I want to pretend—for a little bit longer—that I'm Just Sarah.