I've always been the type of person who has one or two best friends, several good friends, and knows everyone else well enough to be invited to most things. That's been the case pretty much everywhere I've lived that I can recall. I've also had a fairly wide pool of people to find friends in as well, that is, until I moved to Washington.
I moved to the Pacific Northwest from San Antonio, Texas, a city with multiple universities with a high percentage of young people attending church. That meant that in the college group at the church I attended, I had pool of about thirty people at any given time in which to find friends. My county in Washington, on the other hand, is about ninety percent unchurched. Despite several schools in the immediate area, young adults in church are uncommon around here. I've made some good friends so far, but I'm also finding myself expending a lot more effort to get to know people than I normally would, because there are fewer people to get to know.
This has been on my mind lately because of a few people I've found difficult to connect with. Two in particular spring to mind. Neither of these girls are people I would normally find myself spending a lot of time with, but I'm trying to connect with as many people as I can. The first of these girls I've actually gotten a little closer to, and I'm finding that she's just a little more reserved than most of the people I'm ordinarily friends with. She's smart, friendly, and perfectly lovely to talk to. I've just had to put a significant amount of effort into making a connection, but I'm finding that effort to be worth it. It's an interesting experience, given normally I wouldn't have necessarily expended that time and energy.
The second girl, however, is very closed off and responds to nearly every question I ask by shutting me down. I know she's lonely and looking for connections, but at social gatherings she quickly becomes forsaken by others because she won't join the conversation. I have to swim against that tide to keep trying to include her, and it's far more exhausting than I would have expected. I don't intend to give up, but I can't help but realize that in some of the places I've lived with larger groups of people, I may have given up by now. I think that having limited choices in terms of people to meet and befriend has forced me to be more intentional about talking to people.
I may not have found the same types of connections I've had elsewhere, but I'm getting there. It's possible that my time here in Washington will grow my friendships in new and different ways, and I think I've decided that that's a good thing. Time will tell.