Seriously, I’m asking for a friend… and that friend is me
Have your friendships changed? Do you feel as though as you are getting older it’s harder to make new friends? I feel it and it’s lame, frustrating, and sad. Let me explain myself a little bit here, but first, can we all agree that being ‘friendly’ is different that being a ‘through it all friend’? Both are valuable and make the world a better place.
I grew up in a small town in southeastern, Ohio. I felt like I was pretty much friends (or friendly) with everyone, but sure, I had a core group I spent the most time with back then. By and large though, it was an inclusive situation in which almost everyone knew everyone else. I still communicate with many of those I grew up with and I still know they care about my well-being. However, do I see them regularly? No. Am I getting calls, texts, messages, etc.? Not super often. You see, we pretty much all flew the coop when we graduated and got the heck outta dodge, if you can relate. We’ve all had a lot of life experience in the last 20 years growing us into new versions of ourselves. We respect and care for one another, but many of us don’t see each other much or at all (Facebook doesn’t count here).
My next home became Cincinnati, Ohio after graduating from Miami University. Cincinnati was definitely big city for this country raised girl, and I loved it, making it home for about 7 years. I made a lifelong friend through work and reconnected with some college friends. I met new friends through those friends and through grad school. It was a great time of life. Ultimately, none of us had major commitments outside of our jobs. If we wanted to meet up for a beer on a Tuesday at 9pm, we did (and we did often, ha!). I could call up a friend at 5pm and at 5:15 we were out for a run, walk, shopping, watching TV, etc. We built really strong bonds over that time period. We knew each other extremely well and counted on one another a ton. This was a time in which we were truly learning about ourselves and what we wanted. We were questioning so much about life experiences and trying to help each other get some answers. I had found my tribe. We are still very much in one another’s lives, though from afar. About once a year, we are able to see each other and reconnect face to face and it is amazing when that happens.
My next home became Charlotte, NC. The first year I was there was rough as I missed my Cincinnati friends SO much. I was in a relationship that was somewhat tumultuous for the first year and it kept me slightly closed off from investing in life there. After ending that weird relationship, I ended up living there for nearly 8 years and met a lot of friends from work or through Ohio connections we both had. I instantly became close knit with several friends. Again, with low commitment levels to much aside from work, we had time to randomly meet up. I had friends I ran with, friends I went to concerts with, friends I shopped with, friends I drank or ate with, friends I went to church with, etc. With all that time together, we got to know each other and one another’s lives very well, and quickly. I loved getting different groups of friends all together for events, parties, happy hours, etc. I had found my tribe and it was made of several smaller tribes. I still see these friends from time to time when I head up to Charlotte, or randomly when they pop down here. It is awesome to have time face to face even if it’s only a couple times a year.
Now, here I am, in Columbia, SC. Life has changed drastically. When I first moved here, I was a couple months pregnant and we had 2 weeks until our wedding. I couldn’t meet people the way I used to, it’s not like I was inviting coworkers out for beers. I didn’t want to join a running club while pregnant. It just felt like I was stuck. My time wasn’t mine anymore (and neither was my body, but that’s another post). It has been hard to feel super connected or to say I ‘found my tribe.’ Ultimately, at this point in life, I have a family and most of my friends here have families too. Working out schedules around work, kids, husbands, chores, and trying to stay on top of your health… well, it is h.a.r.d. We try as a family to regularly hang out with friends and we are blessed to have friends with children roughly the same age even, but it is really tough to make it happen. Even when we are together, it is largely interrupted by the needs of our kiddos. So, how do you find or create a group of friends who all equally want to invest in time together when they are already pulled in so many other directions? I don’t know, you tell me. Face to face time is so hard to orchestrate.
Maybe in this season of life, the tribe I’m meant to focus on is the one made of me, my hubs, and 2 small, hilarious, momma-lovin’ boys. After all, they do take the largest part of my mental, emotional, and physical space. However, every once in a while there is a longing. A longing to have that group of women who consistently invest time, effort, and love into one another. While I have wonderful friends in various locations, it’s tough to feel like I’m still getting to know what my life in this ‘new’ (I’ve been here 5 years) town will be.
What do you think? Have you found your tribe where you live? What tips do you have for creating a strong, consistent network of friends?