I talk to my coworkers while I’m in the office and I talk to my husband at home, but that’s pretty much the extent of my adult in-person interactions. I almost never spend time with friends, not for a lack of wanting to do so, more as a result of incompatible schedules and locations and priorities.

I don’t have many friends, really. I am shy and reserved and I find it hard to accept the inherent vulnerability that comes with friendships and I’m not good at maintaining them and I’m terrible at reaching out and sometimes I wonder there’s something fundamentally broken in me in this regard.

I fill this friend-shaped void with the internet and I don’t really know if that’s sad or sensible, if I’m a pathological dork or someone who’s just making connections where she can.

The last time I spent time with a group of like-minded friends was last summer, at BlogHer. For all the anxiety surrounding BlogHer—meeting new people! Figuring out what to pack! Finding a familiar face in an intimidating conference room!—it was deeply enjoyable to briefly shed my normal life and be a social person, someone who talks with actual out-loud words instead of clattering keystrokes. It was wonderful to step through the computer and actually be with people I’ve only known through webpages and emails.

Unless something fairly miraculous happens, I don’t think I’ll be able to go to BlogHer this year. And maybe it sounds silly or even kind of pathetic, but I am stupendously brokenhearted about it. I don’t care about parties or sessions or keynotes, I just wanted to spend time with friends.


71 Responses to “Absence”

  1. H on June 23rd, 2010 7:00 am

    I am an introvert and my friend (who is one also) have often joked that we should have an introvert convention – and no one would show up! Thank you Shannon C for the book recommendation. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with introverts and I’m really sick and tired of people who consider it a flaw (like my mom!) because that’s just who I am.

    I’m sorry you’re missing out on something that you would enjoy.

  2. Irene on June 23rd, 2010 7:13 am

    I call dibbs on paragraphs 2 & 3. Wow. I feel like that almost everyday but have never said it out loud. Thank you for saying it out loud for me. It’s kinda scary how much you get me haha.

  3. Ris on June 23rd, 2010 7:14 am

    Aww Linda that sucks! I’m sorry you can’t go this year. I hope something magically works out, somehow.

  4. Nicki on June 23rd, 2010 7:19 am

    Count me in as another one who is an introvert and your first three paragraphs hit it right on the head.

    I’m really sorry you won’t be able to go this year. Here’s hoping for a last minute miracle?

  5. Erika on June 23rd, 2010 7:26 am

    As you can see, so many of us relate to exactly how you feel. It isn’t silly or pathetic at all. We understand.

  6. Mary on June 23rd, 2010 7:44 am

    Add me to the chorus of introverts who have a hard time making friends. I tend to think I’m just an awkward oddball and EVERYONE else makes friends easily.

    One of the things I enjoy most about reading blogs is realizing over and over again the commomanlity of our concerns. Online community can be a beautiful thing.

  7. Mary on June 23rd, 2010 7:46 am

    Ha. That was supposed to say “commonality”. Spelling is also a beautiful thing.

  8. Jessi on June 23rd, 2010 7:50 am

    Ditto, all of it. I know how you feel and it makes me sad knowing there are others.

  9. MyFrogs on June 23rd, 2010 8:03 am

    I too am the same way. I live in a city I’m forced to stay in because of kids and my ex. So they can see him. But I don’t have any friends here. I talk to people at work, but I spend the rest of the time with my kids. I do actually wish I had someone to stop by for a margarita and some girl time. My friends all live in Tx. Sometimes I’m ok with it, sometimes I’m not.

  10. Sara on June 23rd, 2010 8:32 am

    You mean the people in the interwebz don’t count as real friends? Well then…I’m screwed.

  11. dorrie on June 23rd, 2010 8:52 am

    Hey, I’m your friend and you are mine. I think the older I get, the harder to make those meaningful relationships with other women unless we go through something huge together. It’s just too hard and I don’t have the time and energy anymore to devote to someone who may or may not work out…also I am super bummed that my bestie of ten years is moving away tomorrow. I can’t explain to my husband how that makes me feel and I just feel so sad about it. Plus, we are totally broke also. But! Okay, still working on the “but”. Stay gold, sister.

  12. Christen on June 23rd, 2010 8:54 am

    It’s never silly or pathetic to miss friends and be sad about the opportunity to be around people who bring out the best in you. Sending you hugs and well-wishes…

  13. Gayle on June 23rd, 2010 9:03 am

    OMG……you described EXACTLY how it is with me. I am older & my husband is away a LOT, leaving me alone much of the time. I, too, socialize with co-workers & neighbors, but honestly don’t have any “real” friends. As for walking into a social situation alone, I simply can’t handle it. Case in point – last week-end, class reunion. I walked in, got my name tag, looked about the room desperately seeking a familiar face and when I didn’t see one, I walked out and left. Yes, I left. Went home and felt miserable about it. My kids tell me I have social anxiety disorder and I’m beginning to believe them. I so would love to have a group of great friends to do things with, share things with, but my situation doesn’t really allow for that. I’m married but alone most of the time, which means I can’t really hang out with married couples & I don’t really want to hang with singles since I’m technically NOT single. I’ve had to deal with this all of my married life and as I get older, it seems to get harder to be without friends.

  14. Deanna on June 23rd, 2010 9:44 am

    You should put a piggy bank on your sidebar for donations. I’d donate a buck or two. I give to NPR and you make me laugh/think just as much. I’m just sayin if I can give a chickfila sandwich to the bum on the corner, I can pitch in to make one of my fave writers happy.

    (PS: Whenever you say you are coming to Ausitn I get giddy of the thought of meeting you but knowing your self admitted shyness -and because I don’t want to look like a total stalker!- I am not sure I would ever approach you to say hi.)

  15. Nicole on June 23rd, 2010 10:06 am

    I vote tip jar as well. We all probably can’t contribute much, but with the number of internet friends you’ve amassed, I bet it will add up in a jiffy.

  16. Steph on June 25th, 2010 3:00 pm

    I can understand this post on so many levels. I’ve never been to a conference but I long to go to one. One day I will!

    Even though I’ve never been to one this post could be written about me. It’s like you were in my sub-conscious when you wrote it!

  17. Amy on June 26th, 2010 4:21 am

    One of the commenters above nailed it for me: once I had kids, I started to make a lot more friends. Especially once my kids hit school age. Just in the last year or two I have finally started to feel like there are friends I could call in my neighborhood (and we’ve lived here for 14 years)…school-age kids brought me out of my shell. That, and being open to friendship with people who are different from me – one of my best friends is considerably older, no kids, but loves my daughter as if she were hers. The other thing that changed my friend situation is that I now work at home, and have more time to get out and meet people (like at the school bus stop). I remember being in your shoes 10 years ago when all my friends from the time moved to other parts of the country to chase their dreams, and I felt left behind. It gets better, though!

  18. Friendships « So Get This on June 26th, 2010 1:19 pm

    […] June 26, 2010 I ran across this excerpt on a blog that I follow recently: […]

  19. Mary on June 27th, 2010 11:57 pm

    I had social anxiety but I didn’t know it too! (My friends were telling me I had it, but I finally got officially diagnosed).

    There are telephone support groups for overcoming social anxiety that I found to be very helpful, they are provided by Social Anxiety Anonymous. **There is no charge for the groups (it’s all volunteer run).

  20. thejunebug on June 28th, 2010 10:18 am

    “I don’t have many friends, really. I am shy and reserved and I find it hard to accept the inherent vulnerability that comes with friendships and I’m not good at maintaining them and I’m terrible at reaching out and sometimes I wonder there’s something fundamentally broken in me in this regard.”

    This describes me to a T. I wish we lived closer together – I think we could be really great friends.

    I’m sorry you can’t make it to BlogHer this year, Linda. :( That sucks huge monkey balls.

  21. zdoodlebub on July 7th, 2010 8:32 pm

    paragraph 2: thank you for that. I have starred it in my reader so that I know I’m not the only one. I try, oh how I try. But the friendship thing…it just doesn’t feel as natural to me as it looks on others. So thanks for making me feel better about that.

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