Last night I bought my very first waterproof raincoat AND first beanie! My boyfriend Bryan was talking me through the great beanie purchase of 2014 when I realized this one is aptly named the “Hailey.” Boom, done. I’m quite excited about the purchases now that I’ve made-do with a measly water-resistant jacket for the past 1.75 years. Waterproof is the only way to go in the Northwest. All I need is a killer pair of boots and you can practically call me a local!
Today’s challenge (Day 3!):
Teach your audience how to do something.
While we’re on the subject of cultural assimilation, how about…
How to Make Friends: 21st Century Edition
Most of us grow up with built-in friend factories, otherwise known as the education system. Some of us may even go on to higher levels of education, meaning we aren’t really left to our own devices in the friend department until our mid-twenties. Kinda weird to think about, ya? For the greater part of eighteen years we are surrounded by folks our own age who are undergoing the same academic, athletic, and extracurricular challenges we are. We bond over 4th period British Literature, how much we loathe fitness testing, and who’s going to host the bake sale for marching band.
Once you’ve flown the coop of the aforementioned, you realize just how much you relied on those institutions to fuel your social circles. Our place of employment helps to fill this void but what happens if you were to start all over? You’ve graduated, landed a job somewhere new, and you decide to pick up and move…
How does one build a whole new tribe?
You take what you have and work with it.
A year and a half ago I moved 3,067 miles from my hometown of North Kingstown, Rhode Island to Bremerton, Washington. I knew all of one person within a 350-mile radius, my roommate and childhood friend, Laura. All other humans of interest resided in Seattle, an hour ferry ride away from where I was living and working at the time. And I was working as a nanny for Laura’s 3-month old daughter, Macey.
You wanna talk isolation, I was feelin’ it, baby. Yes, having Laura was a godsend. But she was also a first-time mom navigating the waters of mommyhood and career. And Laura’s friends were rad but had busy lives of their own in Seattle with partners and kids.
And so, like any good millennial, I took to the Internet to meet new people.
I started with Match.com. The ten previous months leading up to the move were devoid of dates and free time of any kind but full of personal development and growth, I was ready to dive back into the dating pool. And hell, I wanted an excuse to head into the city! (Or any excuse to get out of the house which doubled as my workplace.)
While not new to the online dating scene, I was a bit apprehensive to lead with the romantic foot. All strong and independent women should have an established friend base, ya? Well I had one, it just happened to be on the other side of the country. Minor detail, really. So, I signed up anyway and found love two weeks later. The third man I went on a date with in Seattle, a month into my cross country move, is the same man I spend Friday date nights with today, a year and a half later.
Now that my love tank was full, I needed some gal pals to round out the pack.
Twitter provided my very first Seattle friend, Kristen. I had been following the University of Washington and their Social Work Department because I was applying to their MSW degree. One day, UW retweeted something of Kristen’s and we began a virtual conversation about the application process which turned into an exchanging of contact info and the rest is history!
Instagram provided my second Seattle friend, Gari. I stumbled upon Gari’s black and white street photography through another Seattle photographer‘s work on Instagram. After commenting on a post of Gari’s regarding a women’s writing workshop she attended, we exchanged contact info and met for brunch one morning to get to know each other. Not only is she a great friend but she has also introduced me to a host of other fabulous, likeminded creatives after recruiting me to volunteer on a community art project in south Seattle.
Suddenly after making two connections over social media, my network grew exponentially.
Ah, the power of the digital age.
Moral of the story: making new friends takes time, especially when you’re new to an area. My story didn’t go without awkward solo bar hangs with a good book, hoping the outgoing bartender would be my new best friend. Or Friday nights trolling Meetup.com.
I stayed open, honest, and inviting. And I kept at it. You’ve gotta put yourself out there by listening to people, asking questions, and extending invites.
Call upon your established tribe back home! Ask if they know anyone in your area. My friend Amy is an honorary sister of my best friend’s husband. My friend Cait is a friend of a friend I used to work with at Old Navy my freshman year of college.
Trust that the right people will enter your life when you need them. And show appreciation when they do. Kristen, Gari, Amy, and Cait didn’t have to accept my invitations to connect but they were kind and open enough to try. And for that I am so grateful.
Love & Light,