The summer between sophomore and junior year in high school, I went to a youth medical conference at Georgetown University. My parents dropped me off at the airport, and before I knew it I was in Washington D.C.! My excitement of being in our nation’s capital was dampened when I realized I had no one there to share my excitement with. I was on my way to Georgetown in a group setting where I knew absolutely no one. How many of us can relate to moving to a new place or being in a situation without anyone familiar? This was truly the first time in my life when I was surrounded by people I didn’t know while I was a thousand miles from home. To keep loneliness from creeping in, I decided I needed to make friends. From this experience, and many more that followed, I found that the best way to make friends was to be a friend. Later, I even learned we gain best friends by being a true one.
What’s a true friend? On this subject, I’ve turned to Sister Dalton:
“True friends influence those with whom they associate to ‘rise a little higher [and] be a little better.'”
“Seeking another person’s highest good is the essence of true friendship. It is putting someone else first. It is being strictly honest, loyal, and chaste in every action. Perhaps it is the word commitment that unlocks the real meaning of friendship.”
True friends are honest. They help us become better people. They are loyal and committed. But all friendships have to begin with us being a friend rather than seeking a friend. So, how can we be a friend to someone in a new group?
Successful Friendly Introductions
1. Smile and introduce yourself.
It can seem awkward and forced to start a conversation. It always takes me about 10–15 minutes to even warm up or feel comfortable with the idea, and I’m extroverted! I know for my introverted friends this can be even more challenging. So, if you can, take the opportunity to smile and introduce yourself to someone new, even if you’re shy. Most likely, the other person will be relieved you got the conversation started.
2. Get to know them and find similarities.
Ask those simple “get to know you” questions: Where are you from? What brought you here? Once you find points of familiarity, let the conversation flow from there.
3. Offer a small act of kindness.
I believe that this is the part of introductions that lead to “friendship” instead of “contacts.” Pick up something they drop, or grab them a glass of water. See what the circumstance presents and act upon your promptings.
4. Don’t lower your standards.
Some friendships aren’t the best. As you try to be a good friend, do not compromise your values. We should be friendly to all, but be sure to build friendships that encourage and strengthen you to live high standards.
The summer I spent at Georgetown was one of the most fun and memorable of my high school years. I made great friends, and years later I’m still in touch with a few of them. Taking the chance to introduce myself and be a friend lead to friendships and a great time. Ultimately, the best example we have of being a good friend isn’t me, but Jesus Christ. He has taught us all how to be true friends through His example as the truest friend.
Post by Rhea Maynes, Teacher of Success Principles