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Making friends has never been easy for me. As a young child the friends I had in preschool were largely the same people that complete high school with me. That’s how it is when you live in a small town. When I left the comforts of my hometown, I started to struggle. I was very self conscious and while outspoken in general, when it came to making any serious friendships I struggled. I can say now I really felt that no one would want to seriously be friends with “the fat girl“. I always sat or stood in a way that attempted to physically minimize the space I was taking up. It’s only after losing 100 pounds and catching myself subconsciously engaging in the same behavior that I could even acknowledge what I had been doing for years – and things began to make sense.
As an adult with children, I wanted to have friends. I made a few very dear friends but I can remember saying to my husband when we moved to the Midwest from Washington DC, “I really wish I had someone I could call, just to talk.” Then one day he came to get me from work and said, “guess what?? I met a friend for you!” And he proceeded to tell me all about the mom on our sons playground. She and I did become friends. Then we moved again.
Moving to a new country is completely overwhelming in tens of ways. I have been so so fortunate that I’ve met several other expats in Marrakech. I have a have a weekly standing lunch date I with some. Another is my mani/pedi buddy, while another lives further away but is my go to girl when I need to pick up the phone and just talk. She gets me, I get her. I can’t put into words how important this has been. Really, when I think what my life would be like without having them there, I seriously doubt how happy I would be here.
Recently, my kids were invited to the birthday party of our neighbor. She’s a young mom, probably close to me in age. When I was coming home one evening she was outside and our kids were playing together. I went through the customary greeting and then it hit me. We would never be friends.
Because our ability to have a conversation ended as soon as my darija dried up. A million emotions came over me as it became so obvious that I lacked any Moroccan friends who didn’t speak English. All of my feelings of self consciousness bubbled up.
How could I ever imagine them wanting to be my friends?
Won’t they just laugh at my child level Arabic?
No, they couldn’t possibly just want to be my friend.
As much as it hurt it also gave me more resolve to become functionally fluent. I want Moroccan friends, so I am going to work even harder to speak well.
Have you ever been in a similar situation? Any tips for moving past it?