I almost did not hit publish on my blog about finding new friends. I felt like people already had their friends and their tribe. I thought I was the only one who did not have it figured out. The responses to that post were overwhelming, mostly because I realized that none of us is alone trying to navigate friendship and community.
Following that train of thought, as I have only recently forced myself to find new friends, I thought an update on the process was in order.
What do you do once you find these people who you decide are going to be your friends? How do you build your community once you find people you would like to be intricately involved in your life?
1. Be social!
That is a tough one for so many of you, like me, who prefer your own islands. You are good with your kids and your spouse. Family is more than enough. Yet, once you have established that new friends are necessary whether by choice or demand from a Higher Order, you have to get to know them on more than a superficial level at some point. You do not have to do lunch every day, but perhaps leave space once a week for them. Coffee dates do not take up too much time, nor do park dates (especially if you live in the South where it is HOT outside). I LOVE happy hour appetizers and moms night out events. You are more than a parent, spouse, and sibling. You are a person, and you need connection (not in a business sense either). In order to make those connections, you must be willing to open your schedule if even for a bit.
2. Be yourself.
I touched on this in my last piece where I suggested that to find friends you must be open, but people need to see who you are. They do not have time for the filtered, picture perfect you. They need to know all of you – the excited you, the happy you, the sad you, the exhausted you, the overwhelmed you. They need to know you are completely okay overwhelming their timeline with photos that are remakes of what you saw on Pinterest. They need to know you watch reruns of Law & Order and Big Bang Theory, and that you know exactly what is going on in the latest episodes of whichever season is currently running of Love & Hip Hop (except Miami which you think is no good).
3. Be all in
Let go of your reservations. Be willing to give of yourself without expecting anything in return. I read once that if you are doing something for someone, or being something for someone with an expectation that they will return the favor, then you are not being a friend. You are manipulating. Friendship is giving all of who you are to someone else all the time. Building community requires the best you have to offer. Period. You can only control what you bring to the table. Bring it all.
Building a community is no easy feat. Society will convince you to do things only when those things are convenient for you, only when you are getting something out of the deal. There are definitely toxic friendships out there which require some letting go. In general, though, building community involves give and take. Some days you will be the giver and other days the taker. You have to learn what you are willing to give and what you are willing to take. Just recognize that people are people. They need you to accept them as is just much as you need them to accept you…
…flaws and all.
How do you go about building your community?
Join me in my journey to build community.
If you liked this piece, please feel free to share with your friends and family. Also, check out my other pieces on finding friends and finding yourself:
- Finding New Friends When You’re All Grown Up
- Journey to Self-Love: Give Yourself Grace
- Finding Your Purpose – What is Your Why?