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Friendship Made Easy in your 50s

I'm staying home

Published 3 months ago • 2 min read

Call me boring, but I'm giving Christmas parties a swerve this year - opting for the cosy comforts of home over small talk with strangers and the torment of tasty morsels and open bars I can't indulge in.

Besides, I've had my share of memorable parties - although some, like the one in my late 20s with my colleague Denice, I'd rather forget.

Denice was the ideal '+1', with a vibrant personality that people were naturally drawn to, allowing me to tuck comfortably into her shadow and observe.

Growing up shy, I mastered fading into the background at social events. Preferring to sit and listen rather than talk, I was often labelled boring.

I still recall a church elder's sarcastic comment, "Ah, I see Janey is her usual effervescent self." Not exactly a boost to a 14-year-old's self-esteem.

This led me to believe I was inherently dull, with nothing interesting to say, so I often said nothing.

Once I left home, this didn't work so well, so I relied on a swig of liquid courage and tried (too hard) to be interesting.

So, at this party, sitting at a table of strangers, Denice effortlessly engaged everyone whilst I studiously ignored the good-looking guy staring at me despite my engagement ring. (Perhaps he mistook social anxiety for a 'mysterious girl' vibe)?

When Denice excused herself and the table dispersed, I was left stranded in the middle of the room, feeling awkward and self-conscious.

That's when the guy made a beeline for me, and my heart started pounding - not in a romantic way. I had no idea what to say!

I can't recall exactly what I said, but when he mentioned kayaking over the Christmas break, I latched on pincer-tight to that common thread and launched into my recent kayaking adventure in all its blazing technicolour, blissfully unaware that kayak guy was now plotting his escape.

Even as I saw his eyes glaze over and his feet shuffle south, I doubled down with gusto, thinking I had to be more interesting. And when I finally came up for air, he practically ran for the door.

I look back at that moment now and cringe.

Yeah, I was boring, but not because I had sat there saying nothing. But in an attempt to be interesting when I did speak, I hijacked the conversation and made it all about me.

The brutal truth is - the only person really captivated by every minute detail of your holiday exploits, what your dog had for breakfast, or your kids' latest report card is you (and maybe your mother, but that's her job). For everyone else, it's really boring.

I've since learned that to be a good conversationalist, I only need to be interest-ed, not interest-ing, by asking thoughtful questions, being genuinely curious about others, and sharing a 'me too' in the mix.

It takes the pressure off having to perform and safeguards the conversation from becoming a dire monologue - a social faux pas that stunts any chance of progressing beyond acquaintance.

This approach is a magnet for friendship, vibrant personality or not, because you're offering the gift of being seen and heard, which is rare these days.

I've shed the belief that I'm dull and boring, although my life might seem that way compared to my younger days.

And I don't avoid Christmas parties because I feel socially inadequate anymore. I'm just being more selective about where I spend my most valuable currency - my time and energy.

Besides, those parties are full of people I used to be. And well, that really is boring.

So, just like my kayak guy, I'll be making a hasty retreat this Xmas.

Friendship Made Easy in your 50s

Hey! I'm Janey Carr

I'm a friendship enthusiast, creator and connector helping single women transitioning in their 50s to build real friendships for deeper connection. Subscribe to our fortnightly email for thoughtful, no fluff stories, thoughts and tips delivered straight to your inbox.

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