Remember when you were a small child and how easy it was to make friends. You could go to a play park, to school, or maybe even the grocery store with your parents and just start playing with random children that you had never seen before. When you're young, you have less inhibitions, less self doubt, and less influences about who you should interact with, in general. As we get older, though, we tend to be more guarded. We become more concerned about how people view us and therefore we make less friends and even when we do, it is hard to let people past certain barriers or layers.
In my experience, people generally fall into two categories. The first category are those who make friends easily; surrounding themselves with a large circle of friends that they like to chat with, hang out with, and do activities with. The second category are people that may choose their friendships quite selectively; keeping their circle very small and intimate, rather than a large group of friends. The difference is, the people with more friends are usually the most guarded and closed off of them all. These people are full of many layers, like an onion, if you will. More often than not, this group has maybe only 1-2 good friends that actually really know them for who they truly are, and many times they don't even have that either. What's interesting about that first group, though, is that their large group of friends think that they know him or her so well. However, in reality, they may have only gotten past the first two layers of their personality.
I have been thinking about this concept all week. If you were to ask anyone who knows me, they would say that I am a social person that has many friends. While this is true, I do have many friends all over the world, a husband, and a large family. Despite all that, I don't think there is actually one person who knows me completely, like authentically 100% me. This is not anyone's fault nor is it because I don't want to be out there in the open. I just honestly, am a very closed off person. The idea of being 100% unveiled makes me extremely anxious. All that runs through my head, is that if I reveal certain things about my personality or myself, even if they are minor, they may have people running for the hills. I guess what scares me most, is that if I am truly me, then people won't like what they see or hear, and then I will be alone. What's ironic, is that I give the impression that I am an open person. I share many details and many stories with my friends and even strangers at times. I like to think I am a very personable person, and I love to listen and help people with their problems and conflicts. When it comes to me, though, I just like to keep select details about myself private.
The older you get, and the more experiences you have with relationships and friendships, the harder it is to let people in. Some time ago, I thought I had made a very good, lifelong friend. I started revealing more of myself, slowly getting to a place of sharing and openness that was way past my comfort zone. I let some layers peel away and exposed things, private things, things that made me vulnerable. Then, exactly what I was afraid of, that person hurt me, and all I could think about was because they were starting to see the real Jen, #JustJen and they did not like what they were seeing.
Imagine if we could all be like those little kids again, and be open to anyone or anything despite any differences, and not have to worry about what others were thinking, I bet we would all have a lot more close friends.