Sunday, November 8, 2009

Let's talk about Social Barriers...

I'm as guilty as the next person when it comes to building and maintaining social barriers. I think it's human nature  to label people. We look at a person, judge them and then put them on their little shelf. It's probably something to do with the laws of attraction.

I'm not really used to cliques. In high school I was the kid who floated from group to group but always had a home base with a few closer friends. I don't like being tied down because it's expected for a person to stay in one category. I don't like being tied down because I like a lot of different types of people and just because someone's part of a certain group doesn't mean I'm going to like them any more or less than someone with another label.

When I got married I was happy to have an eternal best friend. Then I found myself in a new place with no friends but him and a girl needs a friend who she's not sharing a bed with. Category: Newly wed and foreign.

I was very blessed to eventually meet someone else in my exact category at that time and taught her all sorts of wrong American-English.

Then we moved to Rexburg where the main categories involve length of marriage, number of offspring and student status. It was pretty easy to fit in at first because the ward was new but as time went on friends started reproducing and we didn't. People moved on physically and mentally leaving me behind. New people moved in which meant new friends. The longer it went on the more tiring it got but a few golden friendships were made and survived the cold winters. We ended up in the category of Old Timers and I think people automatically thought us, old timers don't need more friends because we've been there so long. That's wrong though.

I've never had a problem being friends with people who have kids. I find it to mean a lot if person with a kid or two will take the time to let themselves be friends with me. It means a lot. It is easier to be friends with people who don't have kids because it's easier to schedule and make plans at the drop of a hat but I like just hanging out. In my experience everyone likes to have fun, I'd like to be put in that category with the rest of the world, no boundaries - well, some because I only want good clean fun.

Now we're in another ward. We're not newly weds, we don't have kids and we're older. I'm hoping to break down some social barriers and become friends with people with kids. We're grateful for the friends we already have who have welcomed us so warmly.

On the sign as you enter our town it says "No room for racism", my sign would say "No room for cliques". haha. That sounded like a political voting speech or something. Vote Laura for Mayor-ette!

What I've learned is this: we categorise people unintentionally but when we don't feel we can fit in we categorise ourselves. If you want to be friends with someone then do it. Don't whine. Just do it.

Here's to pure friendship! Young and old unite!


Brooke said...

Love it! The best way to make friends with a mom...offer to babysit! OK honestly I'm struggling with that here in our ward and we are all in similar situations financially, familial-y, and what not. Isn't it great forcing yourself to get out of your comfort zone?

Chiemi said...

You know what I have the opposite problem in a way. I am of the age of many people in my ward who only have one child, whereas me, I am having my third. Oddly enough it puts me in the old category too. People automatically think I am older because of it. It irks me just a little seeing as I'm 25. Not that old, but happened to start having kids earlier than most. So I guess what I am trying to say is I feel your pain. Wish you were in my ward!

Laura said...

Brooke: It's that first step that's so hard. If it's out of your comfort zone why not bring it back into your zone by having them come over to your turf? Ladies lunch group or play date in your garden? Sunday dinner, Friday night movie? I know you know what to do because you've had the Rexburg practice ;)

Chiemi: It's funny that it's the same problem but the same situation. The fact is that we don't really know what other people are categorising us as. If you feel you're different because you have more kids that could be you categorising yourself. Make it easy on yourself and don't do that - Stick yourself in the "wonderful" category like you are :)

Scott and Stacia said...

I totally agree with your post! When we moved here, I was lost. I had no friends and stayed home 90% of the time. The closest friend I had here (until she moved away in June) was 14 years older than me. Her 3 kids were 11-17 and I was prego with number 1. It is crazy how close you can get to people if you put age aside :)

Megan Marie said...

oh gosh. my mouth is big. and i am glad i was one of your social barrier conquests (considering I am so horribly wicked and hard to befriend). I really miss you, and I've decided to hide in a cave for a few more months and watch what you do to make friends. Then I will copy you. You should write a "how to" book!