By Breena Fain
The hardest thing about developing a new friendship is accepting yourself just as much as you accept the other person. When you’re meeting new people, it can be so tempting to put on a front and be who you think they want you to be. The problem with this is—it never lasts. Either you get tired of being someone else, they realize that’s not who you are, or both.
Of course it’s not always so extreme. Maybe it feels good to be someone else. Maybe you’re testing on a new version of yourself and you’re starting to feel even more like you than ever before. It’s not bad to try on a new you, it’s just good to check in once and a while and ask yourself — who are you doing this for?
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” — Brené Brown
Connecting with new friends as adults can involve as much learning as unlearning. As kids, we didn’t really know how to be anyone else but ourselves. We had playdates facilitated for us. We were curious, explorative, unfiltered. As adults, we’ve experienced so much that drives us to filter ourselves, to keep ourselves closed. And sometimes for good reason. But other times, it’s just scary to know what rejection feels like so we put on a facade, thinking rejection won’t hurt if it’s not the real us.
But this behavior is what will keep you from being happy – and at the end of the day, isn’t that why you want to connect with new friends anyway? To be happy?
Of course it’s so easy to say “Be yourself!” and move on. But if you’re struggling to get started, seek out people who are comfortable with themselves. You can often spot them easily.
Find friends who exude a sense of true vulnerability and happiness. Sure, maybe you don’t have much in common, but that level of exposure to true self-love and acceptance is infectious. If you’re new to a city, put yourself out there and take your girl, confidence, for a spin. If you’re not ready for her full-time, you can put her aside and stay home tomorrow. But do your best to seek out people who make you feel truly happy, who are strong, and who accept themselves as much as they accept you… whoever that may be.
Breena Fain is a content consultant & freelance writer in San Francisco. As an ambassador of the VINA Society, Breena enjoys writing about career advice, love, and personal growth. You can follow her at @breena__ on Twitter or visit her site at breenafain.com
This story originally published on VINAZINE.