Katie Morford and I have never met. It’s possible I’ve seen her, probable in fact. But she’s an introvert, and I’m an introvert, and we’ve never had an actual face-to-face conversation. That said, Katie is one of the people I consider a friend. We’ve worked on a project together, I’ve seen her work on others. She’s funny and interesting, and every time we chat online, I walk away thinking she’s someone I want to know better because she has integrity. When I asked her to guest post for me, Katie was in immediately, and she sent a lovely long-ish post accompanied by some of her photos (do visit her travel blog. She has a great eye). We chatted and agreed to feature her today and Wednesday. Thus, today, is part one of 5 Ways to Cultivate Authentic Friendships, from my globe-trotter friend Katie. She’s a lady who’s had to work at it. Read on, and you’ll see why.
by Katie Morford @KLMorford
I believe we live in the loneliest generation the world has ever known. We are more “connected” than ever, but only on the surface. We crave true friendships that last a lifetime. To be seen. Known. To reveal our real selves and cultivate authentic friendships.
If that’s you, you’ve come to the right place. Sit down. Let’s have a chat. If you want more real friendships in your life, the first thing you have to do is…
Gulp. This is the point where most of us stop reading, get up to brew our morning coffee, start spring-cleaning closets we haven’t touched in years—all to avoid the single most frightening—and most important—aspect of any relationship. We want to be known, but are afraid to reveal ourselves to others for fear of rejection. We are all too aware of our own faults or inadequacies.
Here’s the deal. There is no real relationship without a real you. It’s terrifying, I know. But you can do this. And being brave enough to reveal the real you—even for a moment—is usually the key to discovering a depth to your relationships you never thought possible.
Don’t believe me? My turn to be real. I’m a media missionary living in England who travels the world writing and producing incredible stories about what God’s doing in places I can’t begin to pronounce. Sounds glamorous, right? Right.
So, I’m talking to friends or family back home and inevitably this question comes up: “How are you doing? That sounds amazing.” Now, it’s decision time. I’m a people-pleaser. I know what they expect to hear. And believe me, I’m tempted to take a pre-packaged spiritual answer and slap some details on top.
“Oh, it’s great! Amazing people. Amazing experiences. It’s a joy to serve God and do what I love.”
That’s the truth. But it’s not the whole truth. The whole truth is that my dear friend is dying of cancer and I can’t be there because I live on the other side of the ocean. The whole truth is, I’m 27 and can’t get a driver’s license because I can’t be without my passport for the time required to apply for the permit.
Real life is messy. But remember—there is no real relationship without the real you.
Extend the hand first.
One day it dawned on me that relationships don’t magically appear. Growing up, friendships develop naturally through school, sports teams, or neighborhood play dates. But as you get older, these pre-packaged opportunities to develop friendships tend to fall into the ditch beside the highway.
I began to realize I would have to “extend the hand,” as it were, and initiate a relationship.
Yikes! Is there anything more terrifying for an introvert? The very thought of inserting myself into a circle of conversation at a social event makes me break out in hives. But here’s the deal. If everyone waits for the other person to make the first move, you’ll spend your whole life staring at each other when you could be experiencing a genuine connection.
I’m not saying to walk up and introduce yourself to a perfect stranger (though, by all means, go for it). Start small. Bake cookies and take them to your neighbor. Write an encouraging note and leave it on a co-worker’s desk. Smile and attempt conversation with the waitress at your favorite coffee shop.
We can’t all be Miss/Mrs. Popular. But we can all smile and say hi.
Come back on Wednesday to see the rest of Katie’s post.
Katie Morford is a globe-trotting missionary journalist and travel photographer who’s secretly a homebody, fiction writer and book nerd. She travels the world creating short documentary videos with a Christian media team. You can follow her adventures on her travel photography blog.
In her spare time, Katie writes space opera and action-adventure novels (pick up her latest release, Kenan, under pen name Karis Waters) and is an editor for Crosshair Press. Once a month you’ll catch her on the CP blog, waxing eloquent on life, travel, and living a great story. Katie lives in northern England despite disliking both rain and milk in her tea.