Building relationships is hard
Recently, after conversations with friends and a few posts on the internet, I had some thoughts swarming in my head about how I want to guide my girls as they begin building relationships in the world. Even grown adults are trying to figure out how to fit in, make friends, and avoid confrontation. I want to build confidence in my daughters as they walk this path, and let them know that I have their backs.
By no means do I claim to be an expert on building relationships or self-confidence, but I am a woman who has rather successfully navigated thirty-five whole years on planet Earth, so I’d say I have some valid experience.
I landed on these three words as my wishes for my kids when they are building relationships: polite, confident, and realistic.
No matter what you think of another person, be kind and be courteous. Follow that good ol’ golden rule – treat people the way you’d want to be treated. Especially strangers. It’s easy to be nice to people you like, but how you treat those you have nothing owed to or expected from speaks volumes. You may not enjoy, admire, or even want to be near someone, but in order to build relationships, you should be kind to them.
Note: I wrestled with this one. At first I had respect, but honestly, I don’t believe everyone deserves your respect. Respect is earned. Kindness should be automatic.
I hear a lot of people talking about how other groups and people need to be more inclusive: “Welcome everyone,” “Don’t be exclusive,” or “Form a U, not a circle,” as the post linked above says. To a certain extent, I have to say I disagree. I absolutely agree with building relationships by encouraging inclusion and a warm welcome. But I also want to build confidence. I want my girls to know their value and believe in their worth. I want them to be confidence and know: you don’t have to wait for an invitation, go get it, girl!
If you see a group of people you want to make friends with, walk up and introduce yourself. You are worthy of friendship and love just as you are. Be confident in you and your ability in building relationships. Don’t waste your time on people who actively try to exclude you or change you. Know that relationships take a big investment and constant tending to – but the good ones are worth it.
Here’s where I add a grain of salt to the confidence. There will always be circles in your life. No matter how many friends you have, how many organizations you proudly become a part of, there will always be places and circles where you don’t belong. This is not a reflection on you. I never thought I’d be quoting burlesque dancer Dita Von Tesse on a mom blog, but here we are.
Don’t get me wrong. I consider myself fairly confident. I regularly weasel my way into groups I want to be a part of, and I still find myself feeling that tingle of being left out occasionally. In those moments, I try to remember that the group in which I feel this feeling is not where I need to focus my energy. Most importantly, not being included is not a reflection on me or my value.
If you are polite and confident and people still don’t like you, that’s okay. Not everyone will like you. Don’t change for them, they aren’t the people you need on your side. I hope to build confidence in my girls so that they deeply understand the lesson that not everyone will like you. That is okay.
What lessons are you hoping to teach your kids about building relationships?