Rebuilding Your Tribe

People always say making friends as an adult is hard. I’ve always had my small group and, as an introvert, I was happy with that. Big groups tire me out whereas my handful of friends made me smile. As I grew older I found that more and more of my friends were from work.

I’m in my 30s now and recently I realized I need a new circle of friends. I still have a few friends from my 20s and from work but lately I’ve noticed how difficult it has been to find people to talk to when I need someone around. Practically all my friends are married and have kids or are about to be married.

A few months back I had gotten really sad about the state of my life. I’d felt like I was behind in everything, like everyone’s lives have moved and progressed whereas I was not keeping up with how fast everyone was going. I’d met up with my oldest friend, Barbara, and we took her son for a walk and I started to tell her how I’d been feeling. I mentioned some of the things that had happened with Matt and her response was, “I thought everything was fine, you didn’t seem to have any problems.” I’m realizing that I do a lot of the check-ins with her but maybe it’s because I don’t have anyone else to focus my energy on. When Barbara told me about major events going on in her life, I’d send an email a couple of weeks after to see how she was doing. And I suppose it was at that time I was starting to notice that people had less and less time for me. That’s ok. I know things change when people marry and have kids but it made me wonder how my best friend could know less about me than my friend whom I’d known for less than a year; a woman who has her own 2 year-old child, a husband, and on top of that needed to find a new job because her contract was ending.

That set me on a path of trying to build a stronger relationship with my other friends. I asked friends without kids (most already in serious relationships) to join me in activities, fun things that would get us out of the house, things slightly more active than just sitting in a coffee shop complaining. So I came up with a few ideas, things like snowshoeing or playing an outdoors mystery game. Friends said the activities sounded good and I started planning. I tend to forget that people don’t always mean what they say because as soon as I put a document together, things fell apart. Suddenly everyone was too busy or had other excuses. Now I not only felt alone, I felt like I’d also wasted my time planning. This is a learning lesson, I told myself. I still cherish these friends but it’s time to find a new tribe.

I rejoined Meetup and found crews with similar interests. I haven’t been to many meetups but I’ve been to a few and I’ve already traded numbers with a couple of women. There are, blessedly, meetups with women who don’t have kids (because I can’t act as a free babysitter for friends anymore, much as I love those kids). I’m still learning about myself and figuring out what I want to do but Meetup has been such a great start and the few events I’ve been to have been great and the people so welcoming.

Here’s a lesson I learned I hope others can benefit from: be the type of friend you’d want and never stop making friends because a lot of them will come and go. Those who stay are gold but don’t assume they’ll be there all the time. And even if you do have a loyal gang, maybe welcome a newbie into your clan. He or she might need a crew too.

successful women


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