2018 was a pivotal year for women. It’s no wonder that along with raising voices for sexuality, in politics and in the workplace, we have also raised the mantle for women’s friendships and community.
One of the unique components in creating community for women is how quickly we click. Like LEGO pieces snapping together to form a fortress of strong powerful women. Conversation runs deep. We form bonds and we find inspiration and comfort in those connections. Our commonalities are far stronger than our differences. Our differences are exactly what inspires us. It’s a perfect combination for a symbiotic friendship!
There is a connectivity between women that demands to be fueled. Luckily, we have the tools today to bridge physical absences with technology. That’s why so much of my attention gets drawn to my cell phone. Texting or being responsive on Facebook is a form of fueling friendship. Think about how many times you might run into a friend and begin with, I haven’t been on Facebook much as an apology for not being present.
Without great balance, our need for connectivity can be the very needle that poisons the present. You spend an afternoon with a close friend, you feel something missing when a day or two goes by without some form of a digital hug. We consider a text or a like on a Facebook post as a conversation. Sometimes I catch myself saying when asked about a mutual friend, oh, I just spoke to her, when what I really mean is that I saw she posted on Facebook, or we just texted Happy New Year to each other. We make do with these shallower kinds of connection because we can. Friendship in the modern world has been made oh, so easy, but I wonder what we are really missing. And why the notion of friendship has become, in these early days of 2019, a hot-button topic!
I found this first hand when I said yes to a girls’ trip to Park City. I only knew one woman in the group. I am also a self-identified loner and extroverted introvert. Which just means, I am happiest alone and I struggle in a group but I can do group activities! It also means friendship through technology has been a boon for me! I’ve never felt so confident about my friendships. I don’t have to say yes to be there, I can text! And I am good (mostly) with curated, edited and spell-checked words!
About Park City. I made myself say yes. It was there that I watched and participated as we built our friendship fortress. We talked not just about recipes and clothing and children, but about life, career, love, our bodies, and acceptance. Of four women, two walked every day, two went to Cryotherapy, one floated in an enclosed tub for an hour, one caught up on Facebook and emails, we all lounged on a couch and talked over whatever show was playing on the TV! And since that realtime facetime, we have emailed and texted and supported each other in ways that are unique to women’s friendships.
It’s a funny thing about some of us introverts. At times we are our best selves alone but there are moments, at least for me, when I wonder if I might just be better if I had a bigger tribe to call my own. In fact, I miss not being part of a group and feel this absence more so since empty nesting. I could get my fill of laughter and friendship lingering at carpool drop off or after Back to School night. It’s not the same in midlife. In midlife, friendship has to be put on your todo list.
I know. That doesn’t sound very organic or romantic. But either does loneliness and longing.
Just like sticking to any to do list, magic occurs within that structure. Something that began as work turns into an inherent part of your life. Just like that, with a little effort, you might find yourself in Park City with three other women feeling embraced by friendship on a cellular level. Which is to say, just like any wellness treatment that plumps up sagging cells or infuses you with oxygen, you feel younger, capable, inspired and yes, fabulously fearless!
1. Lunch once a week: I work at home. I am never without one more page of text I could create or a story I want to try writing. Last year, I made a promise to myself. Lunch out once a week with a friend. Every Monday, I would make that plan. I would call someone I was missing and I would make a plan for lunch. Funny thing, no one said no.
2. Walk with a friend: my morning walks are precious. I am a freak about my playlists and getting my heart rate up. In my neighborhood, walking around our park, 2.5 once around, is a social fitness event. I put it on my to-do list. I gave up one, and sometimes two, strenuous heart rate breaking walks a week in exchange for friendship. And I found some friends who walk faster than me.
3. Join a Women’s Group: I don’t identify as a group activity person. I joined my temple’s Women’s Group. The first year I paid the dues and deleted the upcoming events emails. The second year I went to two events. This year I am planning two. I have made at least two new friends and breathed new life into many older ones.
4. Sign up for Meetup: read this: and if you are in Los Angeles, sign up, and sign up for the Fiftiness Meetup!
5. Luddite a text: Skip the text, make a phone call. I know, texting is so much more convenient. So easy. But sometimes hearing a voice is priceless. And sometimes the voice you hear happened to really need a friend that day. Also, see number 5
6. Skip the FB like: Instead of a smiling face or a purple heart or hitting the Like button (I hope Cheryl Sandburg isn’t reading) pick up the phone and call. It’s tantamount to liking their post with feeling!
7. Ask for help: Oh, this is the hard one. We need community beyond laughter and girl’s night out. We need to feel needed just as much as we sometimes need to feel loved. So if nothing from this list is working, if you still feel without friends, or if you need an invitation to a holiday dinner, ask. It’s okay to be vulnerable. Actually, vulnerability is a foundation of true friendship. And it works like a quid pro quo – if you ask for help, trust me, your phone will ring with another fabulous woman feeling less than fearless and in need of a little support.
Erica’s 2cents: Read the article that inspired today’s post, Finding Female Friends Over 50. I actually started writing about my girls’ trip to Park City the day I returned but wasn’t quite sure where I was going with it until I read Rozette Rago’s article in the New York Times.
We are creating community in Los Angeles with our growing Events page. Read More and Sign Up! Let’s make some new friends and new memories in 2019!