Finding Friends Again

I tried to connect with a friend a day for 30 days and here’s what happened.

I’ve spent the past few years lost in my own world, head down deep in my day-to-day responsibilities. Between working long hours, raising kids, visiting aging parents the years flew by. I did a ‘good’ job. I made sure everything was taken care, every school trip form signed, every birthday celebrated.

As my kids got older, and had busier social lives, mine dwindled further. One day an old friend posted that she had moved and I realized that I was in touch with many of my friends only insofar as what I learned on social media.  I didn’t know what was actually happening in their lives and I didn’t share mine. I didn’t get to support them through their life journeys and on the rare occasions when I had an evening to myself, I didn’t know who to call.

Enter a global pandemic. And a withdrawal from social media. We were all isolated more than ever.

I used to think it was not easy to keep in touch with people in real life. You have to drive there, make sure you have someone watching the kids, and even reaching out to call sometimes feels like one more thing on the to-do list.

But I liked it. I like connecting with people and hearing their stories. I like laughing about things only a friend would understand. I like meeting new people and having stimulating conversation. I missed my friends. I also missed me. The me that wasn’t the organized mom or the caring health provider or the loving and dutiful daughter/daughter-in-law. The me who loves to chat, and laugh and ponder about the future. The me who shows up when I’m relaxed and with friends.

Of course, as a side benefit, not only does it feel good to connect, but it turns out that friendships are also good for mental health, longevity and wellbeing.

So, I decided to make a goal of contacting at least 1 friend every day for 30 days. New friends and old. Near and far. If the pandemic had a silver lining, it was that it allowed more frequent connections, even if it was virtual.

REACHING OUT TO FRIENDS

Here’s what I did:

  • I reached out to friends who I love but don’t get to spend enough time with.
  • I contacted colleagues who I respect and want to build a deeper connection with.
  • I called, emailed and messaged family members who have drifted but have so much in common.
  • I randomly reached out socially to friends of friends for no other reason than to arrange a virtual coffee, or in my case, chai – love those spices!
  • I even reached out to some of my husband’s friend’s wives who I had met before, they seemed interesting, but we had never really any reason to hang out.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. It’s easier to reach out to people than you realize. They might be busy, but many times they’re just happy you thought of them.
  2. Virtual chats are super easy to organize and co-ordinate compared to actual in-person events (which I do really miss but aren’t nearly as frequent even pre-lockdown).
  3. Having an online sharable calendar is an amazing tool if you can’t just ‘have your people call my people’.
  4. People are interesting and have many stories to share. They spark ideas, thoughts and inspiration in ways I would never experience going through life alone or with my immediate family (no matter how much I love them). Variety is valuable.
  5. I can enjoy all versions of myself. I’m a better mom, wife, daughter/daughter-in-law when I’m also making time to be a friend and need a friend.

What happened to my 30-day challenge? It’s extended indefinitely. I don’t always reach out daily anymore because, well, life. But I’m reaching out more often than ever and I love it. I’m also creating more relationships, deeper connections and actually building a community of amazing people that fills my cup and hopefully theirs too.

 
 

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