I don’t know about you but the more solidly I get into my 30s, and I am SOLIDLY in my 30s (35 this Sunday, actually!), the harder it is to make friends and even harder to feel connected to something bigger like a community. We’ve been in Atlanta just over a year and are just now finally starting to feel like we have a few friends and a greater sense of belonging. It took a FULL YEAR!!
As a grown-ass woman, I think it’s important to have friends and activities that are separate from your mate and that bring you in contact with other women. Having your own thing going on gives you a sense of independence and also lets you hear different female perspectives on your own experiences.
But finding a community doesn’t just happen to you. You have to work for it. And that’s the lesson I’m learning at this age. Here are some of the things you can do to start bolstering your friendships and building a sense of community. These ways to find community are working for me (finally), but I would really value a few other points of view from you!
ACCEPT INVITATIONS, EVEN IF YOU’RE SCARED
As I’ve met people in a new city, I will sometimes get asked out to do things. I haven’t been great at accepting invitations, but I am working at getting better at it because if you don’t say yes, people will stop asking. I think it’s driven by a little social anxiety – What will I talk about with this stranger? What if I can’t find a parking spot? What if we don’t like each other? SO WHAT? Then you don’t have to go again. But for goodness sake, don’t miss out on a chance to get to know a potential new friend!
EXTEND INVITATIONS, EVEN IF YOU’RE SCARED
The above goes in the other direction too. To get friendship, you’ve gotta give friendship! I’ve realized recently that I’m a passive friend. I don’t go out of my way to make a lot of plans or to check in with people to see how they’re doing. I’m more of a ‘we’ll just pick up where we left off when I see her next’ kind of friend. I’d like to change this because I love it when people check in with me or think to include me in something. I want to make others feel that way, too!
JOIN A GYM OR A BOOK CLUB OR A WOMEN’S GROUP OR…SOMETHING!
I recommend this partially so that you have something to do and somewhere to go but also because you have a better chance of feeling connected when you are surrounded by people who like to do the same things you do. I’ve met some pretty fabulous women who are teachers at my gym who really care about their students in class and get to know our names. This makes me feel like I belong and also makes me excited to go back to class and do it all over again.
PAY IT FORWARD
I can’t stress this one enough, especially as a blogger. Support your friends and acquaintances in their hobbies and hustles – you never know when you will also need them to support yours (and like I said in my recent post, you gotta have a side hustle!). Attend events that your friends are hosting, even if you want to stay home or it’s raining or there’s traffic. You’ll have a great time and you might even meet a new connection. Plus, you’ll also need to call on them to attend your events in the future (bloggers host lots of events haha).
ENGAGE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
We go out to eat at the same places in our neighborhood a lot. Partly because we are lazy and don’t want to drive anywhere, but partly because it just feels good to see a face that recognizes you when you walk into their business to eat for the 400th time. We also have met people out walking our dog that we say hi to now when we see again. These aren’t destined to be close friends by any means, but by saying hello and smiling at people we see in the hood and by spending our money in Cabbagetown establishments, we’ve developed a sense of neighborhood pride. It feels kinda good.
Speaking of bloggers – these pics show some of my favorites! I had the absolute privilege of brunching with all these gals a couple weeks back which is exactly what inspired me to write this post! In fact, the five of us beautiful ladies below are launching a giveaway soon, so stay tuned. Pictured left to right: Sarah of Pretty Little Lists, Cait of Cait’s Cozy Corner, me!, Ashley of House of Dorough and Shelby of Shelby Tenelle.