Reflection and life advice at the end of 2021
So a little context here if you’re new to my blog – in late August 2020 (yes, already a tough year, and if I’m honest, my 2019 was already a doozy for me personally) my husband got transferred for work. We packed up our life, rented out our house (which needed more than a little TLC before we could do that), we found somewhere to live and moved to Newcastle, located about 2.5 hours north of Sydney (depending on traffic).
We lucked out on a great apartment, and my husband went to work. As a writer who also does some professional consulting, I gave myself the rest of the year to adjust and went to work writing…or recovering. It was a brutal move.
It was the suddenness, I think, combined with the fact that we’d built our house and our college aged daughter had never lived anywhere else. Although I never believed she’d permanently live with us again, our new home was not/is not her home. She has no friends here and no emotional connection to the place.
Layer on the fact that we’re not people who whine and I’m a big believer in making the best of things. Our photos of the local beaches or the view from our balcony made our new life look awesome. And there’s nothing at all wrong with it, but it wasn’t home and the friends I’d spent a lifetime making were not around the corner.
Let me be frank, I consider making friends very important. I always have.
My New Year’s resolution every year includes – make a new friend.
At every job I start, or every new hobby or activity I commence, I make it a goal to make a new friend. Sometimes I just make one. Sometimes I make many.
I don’t lack for friends. In fact, I was so overwhelmed by the number of people I needed to put on my list and include for my last significant birthday, I took a vacation instead. I didn’t want to leave anyone out.
I have high school friends, college friends, mother’s group friends, tennis friends, P&C (PTA friends), bookclub friend, writing friends not to mention the aforementioned work friends – it’s probably lucky I worked alone so much or it would be overwhelming .
I collect people happily.
Sometimes, but very rarely, I shed friends. This always makes me sad and I always have regrets about it, especially if I messed up. None of us is perfect. We’re going to say things or make mistakes and that’s painful to deal with. It happens. That doesn’t mean you should stop putting yourself out there and get bitter.
All this might lead you to believe I’m an extrovert and you would be dead wrong.
I’m the biggest home body you’ve ever met – I just also like people. I spend hours and hours alone, in silence and I’m 100% okay with it.
So what’s the point of this blog post? Making friends as an adult is a skill and most of us don’t develop it.
As kids opportunities for friendship abound – school, sports, activities. As we grow and go to college, and have kids at school those opportunities seem endless, but for adults without children and empty nesters the opportunities come to you less and less.
It’s hard work putting yourself out there. It’s hard to make the first move. When I arrived in Newcastle, I knew a couple of writers from RWA conferences and several from online writing groups. At the conferences in the past, I always tried to be friendly, and to talk to people who were standing alone or looked lost. Some of these people I saw for a couple of days once a year but not always.
Anyway, I didn’t know that some of those efforts of putting myself out there when I could have stood with my friends in the corner would pay off years later.
I was so grateful when these women invited me to join their writing groups. I started 2021 as part of two writing groups. One meets mainly online and the other in person monthly. Here’s the truth – I really did not want to join a writing group – I just wasn’t in the headspace for it but I knew if I didn’t that I wouldn’t get invited again so I said yes to both.
They have both been sources of great joy and companionship for me. As a result, I’ve had walks, coffees, Zooms, dinners, and glasses of wine with lots of lovely people and I’ve made new friends…and so have they.
I started writing this after a morning tea with one of these writers. She asked to meet up and I could read even in her email that she was nervous to reach out. She’s a smart and accomplished woman but I suspect it’s a while since she made a new friend. We had a lovely outing and have plans to do it again. I could see how happy and relieved she was that it went well.
Why am I writing this?
Never underestimate the difference your offer of friendship might make to someone and try to make new friends. Yes, it can be risky putting yourself out there. Sure someone people turn out to not be your people but you won’t know unless you try and you never know when that skill might be needed more than you ever expected.