Friends as family

I’ve made a new friend and it’s rather lovely.
My new friend is helping me to make the cakes for the twins birthday, she’s invited me over to her house as hubbys is away this weekend. We’ve had a few drunken nights

376080_10151639478473690_329376159_n.jpg (the only way to bond really) and a dog walk and we chat happily at school in the morning.  Yesterday one of my closest friends from South Africa emailed m to arrange a girls weekend, we’ve decided to go to the coast and spend two days on the beach drinking cocktails and just chilling together.

As an expat, friends are the lifeblood of living abroad; with husband’s often away, families distant and the unusual a facet of daily life, friends keep you sane. However, *dirty secret alert* I’m not really good at making friends….
I grew up abroad in lots of different countries and we moved around so much that I didn’t have many friends as a child, preferring instead to play with my brothers. In my early 20’s I was one of those awful girls who ‘really just gets on better with guys’.  In reality my social skills were so lacking that the easy friendships others seemed to gather eluded me and without any childhood friends I fell back on flirting as a means of communication.  As I got older I began to suffer hugely with social anxiety, the fear of social situations meant that 99% of the time I was lubricating events with liberal helpings of alcohol…which as we all know make us bubbly and funny for the first half and utterly deranged for the second half (not so many friend made in those dark years). In fact it was becoming an expat that helped me open myself up in a non alcoholic, non flirtatious way to people… after all if I didn’t make friends, I didn’t have anyone other than my husband to talk to.
Over the last few years I’ve made some wonderful friends, some of the best of my life.  People that I’m comfortable enough with to have a coffee one on one, go to the beach with for a weekend, go for a run with …simple activities that no one would think twice about but at one time would have me wracked with worries.  Being an expat is about putting yourself out of your comfort zone and recognising that people have different comfort zones.  Moving house is apparently only of the most stressful things you can do, but not to me, I love it! At the same time a coffee morning with the girls is supposed to be enjoyable, but the next time you see someone looking a little uncomfortable or left out (or adding to their coffee from a hipflask – something I’ve never done I’d like to add) maybe wander over and strike up a conversation, after all it could be the beginning of a beautiful new friendship.

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