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Natural Friendships: Are There Any Really Out There?

Cassie and Shelby playing

Natural friendships: are there any really out there?

Cassie and Shelby playing

A friend you do irrationally foolish things with.

You know those friends you could just hang out with forever when you were little- you had a common interest or your personalities just clicked and you were perfectly comfortable, doing NOTHING together for endless amounts of time? I feel like now a days relationships can feel so forced. I wonder if it’s because we’ve set up so many formalities or hoops to jump through in real relationship, to get together with someone you a) always seem to have to be doing something, be it getting coffee, shopping, coming over for dinner, and you don’t just kick it– Walls down, chillin’ out, you get pissed at each other, then you move on, but those friends you could confront, duke things out with, cuddle with, and if you WENT OUT and actually did something- it was a blast. I remember running around with my friends at their little brother’s baseball games, and what a blast we’d have running around, getting snacks at the concession stand (which was one word, by the way, back then. Concessionstand; no 9 year old knows what the heck a concession was; I don’t even think I know the appropriate definition of a concession today. One of those words that’s up there with the Pledge of Allegiance- “for Whichitstands”– I used to think that was one of the states). Running into other kids, kids older, younger or the same age, each interaction was always exciting.  Now days to “run around” with your friends and attempt to feel care free feels either a) like your a wanna be hippy running from reality b) your highly exclusive which wasn’t the original intent of running around or c) your off in your own world in a negative-impact sort of way.

I guess what I’m trying to ask is are there still natural friendships occurring? Do you have any we-naturally-liked-eachother-and-clicked-and-how-we-hang-out friends? And if so, are you also married, and/or have babies? Or toddlers, kids or teens for that matter… I’d love to hear some other people’s experience with this realm.

Socializing is like a Muscle

Yellow Stretch Truck

Socializing is like a muscle. Let me demonstrate.

When Jason and I lived in LA and I began pursuing modelling, I understood that a huge part of our success was my ability to keep in touch with the people I need to be connected to. Calling my agent, calling the other in-house agency, confirming go-see appointments, calling and texting other models to prepare rides to and from events, calling my agent after an appointment to go over how a casting went, receiving emails, responding to emails, talking to casting directors and having mini-interviews, around and around again.  As establishing active communication as a key element, I mentally prepared myself every day, and “lived” towards communicating each day, if that makes sense.  I wasn’t flustered or caught off guard at phone calls, I had people constantly in my mind for what I was working with them to achieve, and I could handle much of any social situation thrown at me.  In that industry you had to always be on your “A Game”- putting your best foot forward in impressions, interviews, interactions.  This industry HINGES upon your ability to leave a positive imprint on a person or group of people in about 20 seconds or less.  So I worked at it and it became normal for me.

After a turn of events we left LA and moved up to Redding, California, a small town known for it’s various natural attractions, salmon-fishing, trail walking, etc.  We moved out onto a ranch out of town where we take care of horses, work outside often, and the daily interaction with people consists usually of Jason and I, maybe one of our landlords, an email from a business client and perhaps a phone call regarding business once every two weeks or so, 4-5 text message conversations with friends about plans for the week, and a phone call from my family around once a week.  So we went from non-stop inter-connected life style to open space, nature, and slow paced remote life style.

Yet after a few months of this relatively distant living what began to happen? My perspective of phone calls, correspondence became a nuisance, a taxing interruption, an inconvenience to our own time and world, and to reach out and call someone or connect becomes a chore, and yet- less than 5 months before I was the Queen of Connectivity.  What happened?

Yellow Stretch Truck

We went from this

Breakfast with Royal and Vegas

To this.

After having enough time analyzing myself into analysis paralysis, and I was almost on the verge of labeling myself socially inept so I could embrace my recent behavior as newly attained personality characteristics, I realized, I’m not drastically losing my touch socially and withering into a hermit; I’ve just been out of shape socially!

Socializing is like a muscle.  The more you do it, the easier it becomes. The less you do, the more difficult it is and more resistance you feel.  And like a muscle- if you went from being REALLY strong in it to taking a long time off, coming back into it may be discouraging at first (it may feel daunting or scary), but realize you aren’t defined as a “weak” socialite. You haven’t become “shy” if socializing used to be easy but now you have a difficult time; your just warming up!  Your getting back into the groove! So don’t be discouraged if you feel “out of shape” socially; remember that socializing, being connected, being outgoing and all of those extroverted qualities is a muscle, and it gets easier and easier the more you do it. You’ll get a better grasp on it, learn how to operate optimally and get a real groove going in no time.

How to Talk on the Phone

Unsuccessful in Life

Talking on the phone.

It seems simple, and pain-free, right?

Wrong.

Talking on the phone is one of the most difficult, scary things for me to do in the whole wide world lately. I suck at talking on the phone these days.  I learned how to do the quick uppity-“Hey! Just wanted to figure out x, y and z! What works for you? Okay great, z it is. Perfect. How’s Y? Good! Good. Alright, well I will see you at x, I’ll bring the Y, and we’ll do z! Awesome, Okay… See ya soon! Bye!!” -click-

I got that. Calling to clear something up- and being excited. I can do that.

But what about calling friends and family just to chat? How do you talk on the phone to just spend time with someone your unable to DO something with? How do you have a nice, comfortable conversation that is fluid and relaxing and enjoyable for both parties?

I’ve been trying to muster up the courage, the “zing” to call a dear friend whom I love VERY much from back in LA for MONTHS, and tonight after getting the ball rolling (Yes, I have a ball I have to get rolling to be able to make phone calls, even to family) I felt accomplished from the previous conversation so I dialed her number before I could doubt myself out of it. So we chat, and it’s so wonderful to see how she’s doing, what’s going on, we’re on phone with for over an hour, we hang up and I walk into the living room where my husband has been sitting in earshot and I am beaming, heart full, accomplished, connected, encouraged–  and walk into his matter-of-freaking-fact comment: “You talked the whole. Entire. Time. I’m amazed she even got two words.” And I felt like a pin was shoved through my heart and I was placed on a wall, along with the other insects of the insects-who-suck-at-talking collection.

What the heck just happened? Why did that comment hurt SO bad?

I realized it was the truth. Dammit.  I am absolutely horrendous at keeping a conversation ANY WHERE. I do not know how to speak and have a legitimate serious grown-up conversation. I always go off into comedy, say nonstop filler words “Like, uh, and stuff, or something, ya know, I’m not sure,” and I strip myself of any confidence in my statements. I get scared in conversation, afraid of running out of things to say, that things will get awkward, that what was meant to be an enjoyable loving experience will feel uncomfortable, forced and painful.  So after recognizing WHY those words stung SO BAD, I realized the reality that I have horrible conversation skills. Needless to say that makes me feel like an absolute IDIOT, I’ve always seen myself as someone who is confident in my social abilities, if you know anything about Myers Briggs personalities I claim to have the tendencies of an ENFJ and yet I nearly have a panic attack when it comes to talking. What the heck is that?!

Well, I think it’s a number of things, which I’ll get into in other posts but what I’d like to share in this post is what I’ve found to help with articulating via phone conversations.  Some helpful hints to help ease your fears of talking on the phone. Though the first article is geared towards how to talk on the phone with a boy you like, I find it works well towards anyone you want to have an engaged conversation with.

You can read the original article  here.

1. Before calling, think of what you can talk about. What does he like? Did you do anything with him today that you can talk about? Anything he should know? You can even write down a list of topics to go through, but don’t read off of them like a script, make it casual and impromptu.

2. Once you have an idea, take a few deep breaths. Don’t just call him if you have nothing to talk about. It will most likely annoy him.

3. When someone answers and it isn’t your guy, ask for him. And make sure you say something like “Hi, this is ______. May I please speak to _______?”

4. When he says “Hi” or “hello” do not start off with something like “Whatcha doin’?” start off with “Hey what’s up?”…stuff like that.

5. Avoid asking questions like what color do you like, what is your favorite food.. that type of question is really common. Try to be a little more innovative and interesting.

This one I have a little difficulty with because somewhere along the course of my life I picked up tendencies of wanting to know funky quirks about people so I seriously enjoy learning about what people love, even the little things. So it may seem childish and I’m not sure where to put that trait and how it fits in relationship to “mature” conversation, but I enjoy it…

6. Get in a conversation. Try asking him something about school, or sports, or anything interesting.

7. Find a good excuse to call that person you like. Ask him a homework question or if he wants to do something. But make sure it isn’t a stupid excuse because most guys do not like that.

I think this is a great tip- think of a way that person can look like a genius through you asking for their expertise. Everyone likes to feel powerful and knowledgeable; what better way to have someone share their thoughts with you and open up than to ask them about a subject where they are strong.

8. Once you get into a conversation, there is nothing to worry about unless you somehow insult him, but that’s unlikely, and easily fixed if you somehow manage to.

9. If you get his cell phone answering machine, then leave a cool and goofy message. Guys think that’s really cute. It’s cute if you like laugh at something during your message. Like a cute giggle. Unless your guy is serious, then he might find it annoying.

Not sure if this is relevant at all, but hey if your looking to chat with a guy, perfect.

10. Play a game. If you just met him a good game to play is 21 questions or LoL. Ask him questions to get to know him. That will keep up a good conversation and you guys would probably even feel more comfortable around each other since you probably got to know each other better. Take turns and don’t just throw questions at him but ask some good and interesting questions that you would like to know and would also be fun to ask and get the answer to.

I think this one is great and overlooked– if you just have a friend your wanting to connect with- why not go on some sort of exploratory conversation journey and find out interesting things about each other! Sounds like a great opportunity for personalities to really show up.

And this one tid bit from <a href=”http://www.esquire.com/features/phone-etiquette-tips-0110&#8243; title=”another article” target=”_blank”></a> that’s helpful:

11. Don’t be afraid of brief silences.

-sigh- My biggest fear. I have this lie I’ve been believing that when there’s silence in a conversation, it’s like someone is going to realize I’m not good enough, or I’m not all that interesting. Complete b.s. lie, not true at all.  Brief silences should be welcomed, non-threatening signs of enjoying yourself and the moment. THAT’S a good perspective to see it through!

12. Say goodbye decisively. Don’t ramble.

I think I’m a rambler. I excessively look for ways to “humor” and “connect” with someone. KISS. Keep it short and simple, you don’t have to over-do it to be viewed as valuable or precious.

Alright. That concludes this episode of Shelby’s freak out moments turned into life lessons.  What is talking on the phone like for you? Have you ever encountered these strange, erratic phobias of talking with other human beings?