But how do we do that? How do we make friends? Is there an online website where we can go and sign up to find friends? I'm not sure about that. I know there are online communities where you can find connections. But I'm not sure we find the deep and meaningful relationships online.
Here are the steps I took and found my people, my tribe.
1. Be willing to invite someone. A lot of us believe that other people are to busy for us. That we don't have time to be with each other. But I have found if you are willing to invite someone, they are usually open to that invitation. Most of us are to afraid to reach out. But fear only keeps us from true connection. Let's commit to being brave and reaching out.
2. Go where the people are. I went to the library. I went to MOPS. I went to the park. Each time we moved I looked on the Internet to find Moms groups. When I worked, I made time for relationships. I asked people to lunch and joined a book club. The first step to finding people is being where they are.
3. We've gotta be available- physically. I know that life is busy. There a million and one voices screaming out for us to do something. You've got work demands, if you have kids they have loud demands. If you are married or within a significant relationship that a uniques set of expectations. All of these can combine to keep us isolated. Or maybe make us feel we are to busy to invest in others or have them invest in us. When my oldest went to preschool, he made friends with some of the other kids and the requests to have play dates began. So we started going to the park. That became a weekly thing. Then it became a regular part of the calendar for us. We all chose to keep that post preschool time for our hangouts. Not everyone came every time, but it was known that there was always a place and time for us to catch up.
4. Be available- emotionally. Not only did we have a physical appointment each week, we also began to open up emotionally. When you have a specific group and start to spend time together, a space is created for sharing. You start to glean bits and pieces of each other. Maybe someone admits that they don't have mothering figured out. Or that they are having a tough time with their boss. Then someone else shares that their kid is having troubles at school. The next week someone else follows up to see what's going on. We have to be open to share and also to receive the troubles. We have to be open to following up. To creating the space and time for each other's problems.
5. Have a space. If you're going to commit to having a set time, you need an option or two for where you're going to meet. At work it can be the lunch room. Or even the fromt seat of your car. For me it was the mall play area, a park or my house. Maybe you find a coffee house that's centrally located and has an open table in the afternoons. You gotta have a place and time for your meetings.
6. Let go. We all have expectations we put on ourselves. We all have difficult experiences that shape who we are. Sometimes we have built walls around ourselves. These barriers can make it hard to open up to others. They can make it seem impossible that others would care about us. But the longer I love, the more I see that we all carry burdens. That these burdens are only bearable by carrying them with each other. That we have more in common than we realize.
We also have to be willing to let go of our control. Anytime you have more than yourself you're going to run into different opinions or desires. So we need to know how to compromise. In our little group we try to go away at least once a year. This means we have had to let go of our need to control our homes. The idea that only we can run the house well. That is a lie from hades. Do I understand the daily workings of home, school, and my kids a little better than my husband? Yes, because I am there at home more often. But I also know that my husband is an equal partner. Others of us have an extended family willing to step in and help when needed. There are always options for us for help if we are willing to let go.
To me, friendships are life. I lived a long time closed off and isolated. It took the above steps and a fair amount of courage for me to find my tribe. I know that we all need relationships and that we all benefit from open and honest sharing.