HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
In honor of Momma’s Day, and living on the opposite coast of mine, I thought I’d share some thoughts for all the kids out there away from their mommies today, on the importance of having a support system. My wonderful mama is still one of my biggest places of support, love and clarity. She knows me—all ages and versions of me—and I am so lucky to have her as my mom and biggest supporter!
Moving away from your friends and family is so tough! After moving across the country (for the second time!), I can confirm that the adulting struggle is 110% REAL. I immediately tried to recreate a support system to mimic my SF gang, when what I really needed were some great new friends to support me right here in the ATL. I realized that everyone, whether they crave alone time or not, needs some form of connection and support in life.
HOW DO YOU MAKE FRIENDS?
I had already planned to share a post about the importance of supportive friends, so when the topic of moving to new cities and making new friends came up at a work dinner earlier this week, it was time! After connecting with one of our New York clients, who is also originally from the Bay Area, we bonded over our new cross-country moves. She also moved for work without knowing anyone in NYC, so she asked me: “how do you make friends?”
Every decade poses new challenges. One prominent transition I’ve noticed among most 20-somethings, is the ebbs and flows of friendship. It’s important to recognize if your social network is growing with you, or starting to hold you back. Don’t beat yourself up over needing to shed some negative influences in your life! Sometimes a friendship detox allows space for new people, who can offer you so much more. Just remember that wherever you are, it’s ok to be there.
In Atlanta, I was lucky enough to meet my boyfriend and join an awesome company with friendly coworkers almost immediately. I know that not everyone is as fortunate to have a good setup in place, and I’m thankful for my unique situation. Don’t get me wrong, I still had to work at building my network, however, and it’s still a work in progress today.
One thing I immediately noticed is that my coworkers were at all different stages of their lives; some married with kids, some already had their friends and some quite a bit older. In order to figure out who to connect with, I started asking myself what I was really looking for: someone to keep me company, or true, genuine friends. Making new, genuine friends in your 20s, or later in life, takes a lot of trial and error, so don’t be discouraged if you aren’t seeing the fruits of your labor just yet. Stay open and positive that the right people are out there to support you! You just have to find them.
Below are some of my thoughts as you embark on your friendship scavenger hunt, whether you are going through some uncomfortable transitions, looking for new friends or feeling like you’ve outgrown some of your current ones (seriously, it happens to everyone). Focus on your emotional wellbeing, invite new people into your life to celebrate the support your mommy has given you, offer a place of comfort for other women, or work on finding your own stability!
Remaining open and completely vulnerable with yourself is super effing hard, let alone sharing your struggles with new people. As difficult as it is, instead of pretending that everything is peachy keen, I’ve began sharing how hard it was to move here without any friends and jump right into a new job. Isn’t it refreshing when someone can just admit that they’re struggling, instead of acting like they have it all figured out? I’ve started to build real, new friendships here, and have discovered I’m not alone in feeling the emotional stress and anxiety of life transitions. And neither are you!
Maybe someone in your apartment complex or neighborhood is also new to your city. Or maybe a coworker feels stuck in her current job and is called to pursue a new career path. And of course, there’s always those endless engagement photos clogging your social media to give you that big confidence boost. More to come on societal norms portrayed on social media, because there’s a lot of QTNA there! For now, just remind yourself that it’s ok to move at your own pace.
Networking is for work, not for finding friends. My first few months here, I treated my friendship hunt like networking. I said yes to everyone, which to some extent, was good to put myself out there, but not when your intuition screams against it. Even though I was going out with these new peeps, they weren’t necessarily adding the supportive and grounding energy I was seeking.
Though you can force connections, it’s better to find people on your same frequency! I distinctly remember coming home one night from drinking with a new gal pal and feeling low afterwards, because I was devoting energy to someone who would never reciprocate my effort in a friendship. That night, I vowed to stop putting energy into relationships that I knew were never going to make it. If I felt like I had to flake or dreaded seeing that person, then it wasn’t for me, and it shouldn’t be for you, either!
MAKE ALL THE FIRST MOVES.
Root down and find your spot. Lotus flowers start by rootin’ down in the mud before they show their beautiful blossoms on the surface. So, like a lotus, whether you’ve found you’re permanent home or not, start thinking of ways to feel more comfortable, connected and grounded in your surroundings. In SF, I loved discovering new restaurants and hanging out at my usual spots, so I started incorporating my love of food into exploring Atlanta.
Coffee shop, restaurant, bar, park, wherever: FIND YOUR SPOT. You want to find somewhere that you feel like a regular. Not only will finding your spot make you feel more at home, you might just connect with other regulars! When a friend visited from out of town, our waiter made our dinner so special, that I kept requesting him whenever I came back (Shout out to Cooks & Soldiers)! After eating there several times, we went to dinner on our own!
My latest adventure is checking out local farmer’s markets to find raw local honey—bee parts, honeycomb and all! Anyone with pollen allergies should give it a try. I love knowing my food origins and connecting with the people who grew it.
Schedule coffee for two. Whenever you get an inkling to connect with someone, I’m challenging you to act on it. I noticed that a lot of women I was drawn to at my new company were moms. They had a very nurturing energy in the workplace, and I appreciated that caring quality in my life, even if they were only a handful of years older than me.
Even if I was shy at first, I started asking the women that I admired around me to coffee. Everyone has said yes emphatically, because maybe they were wanting to ask the same thing! The pressure is off once someone makes the first move, and you can explore the possibility of a friendship. I’m normally very anxious in large groups, so I promise that if I can do it, asking out a potential new friend on a coffee date will get easier with practice!
Try building a community online. For an introvert (like myself), connect and collaborate: starting my blog was my way of sharing my creative outlet with the world. I was surprised and truly touched by ALL of you who reached out to me after I launched. Your support is why I do this! A lovely mutual friend (shout out to Jane!) reached out to me via ig just to show her support. In doing so, I discovered her own blog! Even though she lives in Utah, it’s rewarding to connect with other like-minded, awesome people.
My newest addition to the blog is to expand beyond my own viewpoint, by publishing some dope collab pieces with my talented friends. Stay tuned!
For the extrovert, find your group! Since I’m the most comfortable in one-on-one interactions, I haven’t yet joined a bacci ball league or arrived solo for salsa dancing, but if you thrive in group settings, go for it. Join a league, club, meet-up group or volunteer in your neighborhood! People in those groups are just like you: looking to connect with new people and are maybe in a transitional place in their lives! I’ve also heard of Bumble BFF, where you swipe to make friends, like you would for dates. Shapr (and I’m sure many other apps) help connect you to like-minded professionals in your new city.
Use ALL of your PTO. Seriously, use every single vacation day you’ve accrued at work. If you only have a few left, one self care day does wonders. If you have some vacation days to spare, it might be time to plan a solo trip (something I’d like to do at some point in my life!) or even invite familiar faces to your new surroundings. You’ll instantly feel more at home! Exploring on your own can be scary at first, so research tons of new restaurants and places to scope out while your guests are in town!
Another cool idea is to meet a friend halfway to explore a new city together. I’m lucky to have friends all over the world, so knowing I can hop on a plane to see them at any time makes Atlanta feel a little more like home.
The most important advice I can give, is to reach out to your current network, no matter how far away. Having someone who knows what’s up can help you feel more connected to your support system during a tough transition. Sometimes when I open up, like on dis blog, I feel better knowing other people are with me and have my back. Sometimes that’s all it takes!
Until Next Time,
Your Supportive Sloth
PS. My last piece of advice is to consider getting a furry friend. More to come on my sweet cat later!