Bye-bye, lone wolf
And very, very alone.
That was me several years ago. It was a time of incredible pain and darkness—my lowest of lows. I didn’t have many friends, my family lived far away, and I was going through an extremely difficult time. My few pathetic attempts to reach out for help had backfired. Floundering and feeling very much solitary, I was treading water, passing time.
An old friend from out-of-state told me her honest perspective: I’m a lone wolf, the kind of woman typically apart from the “pack,” who goes it alone. And that, more than anything else, was making my difficult current situation especially hard.
It hit home the second she said it.
She was absolutely right. And naming it—that missing piece, that way I’d always felt like the proverbial square peg—became a game-changer.
The term gave me a sorely needed perspective on my dark time. Eventually, as life shifted toward normalcy and I again stood on solid ground, I began to seize on that solitary image of myself, began to somewhat enjoy it. I’d always been a lone wolf. As a child, I’d been bookish and shy and sensitive and took everything way too seriously. Couple that with lots of moving around and, by the time I was 18, I didn’t have a “tribe.” I didn’t even have a best pal. The pattern continued in college; super-driven, I packed my schedule too full for deep friendships. I waited tables 10 hours a day three days a week but didn’t really socialize with my coworkers. I went to school full-time four days a week but didn’t really socialize with my classmates. Even after I had kids and made a few mom friends, at the end of the day, I never let anybody in completely.
It was basically me, myself, and I. And my books. And God.
I had succeeded at keeping everybody in my world at arms-length distance.
My friend had me pegged: I had “lone wolf” written across my forehead like a stubborn, party-of-one tattoo.
I decided to embrace my lone wolf status. Who needed people? Friendships weren’t essential.
Or so I thought.
Fast forward two years, when I was in the midst of a long bedtime talk with my preteen son about how the right choices in friendships could keep him on track. I was thinking of him, thinking along the lines of wise choices about drugs and good grades, of resisting temptation, but as we talked, it hit me—the words coming out of my mouth applied just as much to me as to my son.
Was being a lone wolf really a healthy choice for me?
Perhaps not. It’s a no-brainer that influences can be hugely powerful. Aren’t I a far nicer person when I spend the day with positive, cheerful people versus Debbie Downers? Aren’t I kinder and more inclined to think of God and His commands when I read His word and spend my commute listening to Christian radio?
Deep down, I knew what I had to do—just as my son was cementing friendships with his crew of nice guy friends, I needed to follow suit. For the first time in my life, I needed to make real friends ... friends with whom I didn’t always have to be the perfect version of myself, friends to whom I trusted enough to tell my worst stuff, friends who knew the real me. An inner circle.
Slowly, I became part of a small group at church, and that’s when things really began to change in my life. It wasn’t the most comfortable thing for this sensitive introvert to do, but it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made: to intentionally surround myself with kind, Christian, authentic friends who want me to be the best version of me possible, the sort of woman God intends me to be. To surround myself with friends who keep me accountable as a mom, wife, sister, friend, and child of God.
As soon as I let those walls fall and let people in, I discovered the walls had been pointless to begin with. They’d been blocking out so much of the good life and the lessons I needed to learn.
Now I meet friends everywhere I go. The lady who did my mammogram the other day was so sweet and funny and we hit it off so well that I’m considering inviting her for coffee. I’m gathering pals and throwing mini parties... just because.
See, it’s fine to be a lone wolf. But life is richer, my faith walk is deeper, and I’m a better person because of the accountable, loving friendships I nurture and prioritize.
Sayonara, lonely lone-wolf version of me. God has a better plan, and you can bet I’m all in.
Jessica Brodie is a Christian author, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach.