Saturday, April 18, 2015

Reader Question: Tips for Finding Friends as an Adult?



I was asked this question in January on Tumblr, but I come back to it a lot, particularly because I've been down that road and managed to emerge from the other side.  Tonight, I thought I'd refine that answer and share it with my readers here.  Some of it coincides with my introductory post on how to connect with the Kansas City pagan community, which you can find here.

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Q. Hi, I was wondering if you had any tips for finding friends? I recently lost my main group of friends and have been desperately trying to find people to befriend again. Apologies for bothering you, it's just you seem to be very content with the people in your life and really happy. - A

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My heart is broken for you, A.  It may surprise you to learn that I've been in your predicament a couple of times, so I can honestly and truly relate to what you're going through.  As we grow, we may find that the people around us are not growing in the same direction.  Sometimes we can reach over that disparity and find our way back to one another.  Other times, you've become too far away to reach one another.  The friendship is lost.  And while mistakes may be made, I don't believe that either party is at fault.  It's simply a part of adult life.

Oh god, I need an adult this morning.  ... What do you mean I am an adult?  ... Crap.
It's also perhaps the strangest part.  As a kid, you make friends because you see the same people every day.  It makes it so much easier to form bonds when you're forced into the same place often enough to do so.  As an adult, you have to maintain contact manually.  With jobs, family and general adult responsibilities, that becomes an increasingly difficult task.  And while maintaining contact may be hard, finding brand new friends can be even harder.  Particularly if the friends you've lost were once childhood, college or work friends, you may find that locating places for new friendships to blossom is a struggle.

If you think my current group of friends and I are close and happy, picture something very different in early 2014.  I had recently split from my first circle and found myself feeling rather alone.  My previous group of friends and I had met through work - once again, a circumstance where bonds are formed through repetitive contact.  However, I had since left the standard workforce for a more unconventional freelancer life.  My job has me traveling from party to party, rarely ever with coworkers, and more often sitting in front of my computer at home while my husband is out at work.  It's a very secluded position.  Having a chronic illness compounded the issue, as I rarely had the energy to go out and, when I did, my introversion made spending that energy that much more complicated.

Bah humbug.
If, through all of this, I could find such an amazing group of friends, you can too!

My first step was to reach out to groups that shared the same interests I did.  I specifically searched for pagan groups and found the Kansas City Witches Meetup at Meetup.com.  There were so many options for events I could attend, but I intentionally decided on a small event that was only a few miles away called the Liberty Coffee Coven.  There, I met my friend Kolika with whom I immediately connected and is now one of my closest friends.

I mustache you a question.
I also met the Liberty Coffee Coven co-coordinator Emily, who is currently a guest member of CF and has a wonderful dog named Courage that my familiar Artie loves!

Chillaxin'.
While I found a friend through a pagan-related group, it doesn't have to be religious!  I'm also a member of a sushi group and a crafters guild, all of which could produce more connections if I were to attend them regularly enough.  That's the most important part: Attending a group often to form bonds.  Just like in your childhood, where being in the same place at the same time over and over formed connections, you can mimic that through groups you're interested in.  So don't just join - go!


But being an extra body at an event isn't enough.  Silence won't open you up to the possibility of friendship.  When I left my last circle, I found that I no longer had sabbat photos to share.  While I started attending Liithi Lushede public rituals through KCWMU on Samhain the year before, by Imbolc, Liithi Lushede was the only ritual I was attending.  It made me take my camera so I could share something with my readers.  By taking my camera and blogging about the ritual, it made me more involved with the community.  Until I started taking photos of public rituals, I don't believe anyone else was blogging about these events.  I saw a need and I filled it!  And the fact that Liithi Lushede often recognizes me for my hard work with camera and word means that I'm not just hiding in the crowd - I'm an active participant.  The more you participate, the more people can get to know you.  And the more people can get to know you, the more likely you are to find friends.  It was through my blogging about these events that I met many of my current friends, including Kira and Phaedra!


But groups and events aren't the only way you can form new connections - you can also take a class!  Classes, particularly ones that may last several weeks, once again mimic scenarios where you're more likely to create friendships by putting you in the same place at the same time regularly.  Even more so, classes force you to participate so you can't just hide in the group.  They combine the best of both worlds!  In fact, it was a runes class where I met Jessica.


You may remember Jessica from my former circle, but without her, I wouldn't have formed Circle of Fountains!  I've also made new connections and formed stronger bonds with existing ones through exercise courses (if you haven't tried Zumba, you should!).

Seriously.  Zumba.  It's a thing.
Another option for meeting new people is through volunteer work.  I use VolunteerMatch.com to find volunteer work in my area of expertise and interest.  I don't have a lot of experience with making friends through volunteer work because the stuff I tend to do is rather solitary, but if you can find something that will get you involved, you're sure to make some new acquaintances!

At very least, volunteering can be a wonderful distraction!
Finally, never discount getting your friends and their friends together for something fun.  Many of my circle members didn't know each other before joining Circle of Fountains.  Today, I'm sure that they couldn't imagine not knowing each other.  We've become incredibly close just through creating something new together.  And if it weren't for the circle, I don't know if they would have gotten a chance to meet my "brother from another mother" and roommate, Tony...


... or if I would have gotten a chance to meet Kira's close friend Laura.  The circle gave us a chance to connect with each other while forming deeper friendships.  Sharing the group of friends makes the individual friendships that much stronger!

All of that being said, the best part about getting involved in a group, class, volunteer organization or whatever you choose to do is that it keeps you busy.  Even if you don't immediately click with anyone, you won't feel like you're wallowing in your own isolation.  It's easy to feel alone if you spend most of your time alone.  It makes it impossible to cope.  The only real way to cope with friendship loss is to get back out there, make connections and try again!


My final advice is to give it time.  Don't expect to make immediate connections.  Good friends don't magically happen overnight, as much as we may wish they would.  You might find that other people have walls because we’re no longer the carefree children who make quick friends.  In fact, you may now have walls from your own personal experiences.  So it could take one or two or ten classes or events to find the kind of connections you're looking for.  It might take even longer to cultivate it into a full-fledged friendship.  Goodness knows it was a long journey from the moment I noticed Kolika had cupcake frosting on her upper lip that first Liberty Coffee Coven to us creating Sims characters of each other...

I don't care if it takes me an hour. I have to get the hair just right, dang it!
... buying matching coffee mugs...

I didn't choose the mug life.  The mug life chose me.
.... and crashing at one-another's house for the night.  But don't let that long journey intimidate you.  Trust me when I say that every step is worth it.


Best of luck to you, A.  My heart is with you.

7 comments:

  1. Nifty! It can be hard and scary sometimes but it is so worth it.
    Huggles!!

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    1. It was positively terrifying for how introverted I am, but you're absolutely right: It was so worth it! <3

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  2. I found activities and friends of like-minded people at Meetups online in my area. It worked magically for me. I have activities, groups and now friends.

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    1. That's exactly how I started off! Meetup.com is a pretty amazing tool. Congratulations!

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  3. I am such an introvert and I have two chronic illnesses so it was really nice to hear someone else gets how much that can impact ones social life! I get a lot from all of your articles but this one hit particularly close to home so I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to write it.

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