It was a delight to just 'be' with them. I realize now, more than ever, that the void of friends that has been growing over the past few years has to be fixed.
My new year's resolution was to be a better friend, and I am trying. I stay in touch, and not just when I have something to say. I think of funny things to send or say to them to lighten their day. I am working on remembering big days in their lives, but honestly its hard for me to remember big days in my own life.
I received compliments on my little loft apartment in the city. It was nice to have a reason to spruce it up. Up until last weekend, no one was seeing it so who cared, right? Well, I realized I care. All this week, I have walked into my neat, orderly, draped and art-hanged (hung?) living area and sigh with contentment. It is me. My space. Who I am today.
However the best compliment I received was from a former coworker and the man who gave me a recommendation that got me this job. He said, "For the first time since I met you two and a half years ago, I see your inner peace. This move was good for you."
Then he told me that nearly two years after his move, he still hasn't made new friends. Holy Hell, man! He has set a goal - five new friends this year. I think he is on to something with that.
Think about your life. How do YOU make friends? What are your communities of choice?
There have been numerous studies that show that the first people to embrace you into a new setting are the 'outliers'. These are the people who have no community and looking to the new person to create that. Here's the rub, that person is an outlier for a reason and you don't want to be branded with that reason before anyone gets to know you and you them.
Joining a new community is also a test in merging your history and earning credibility. It isn't who you used to be; it is who you are. I am struggling with that; have been for a long time. I used to be a minister. (Why did you stop? What did you do wrong?) I used to be a missionary. (Oh no! A zealot!) I used to be a COO. (And you took a step backwards because?) I used to be a consultant. (Eye roll! Pseudo expert!)
You begin hearing the stock phrases you have adopted to gain entry and introduce yourself. Mine are:
- I moved here from San Diego XX months ago. Makes me unique. Gives the listener a doorway to say something in return. Makes me sound nuts to give up the beach for Philly. When do transition to a resident?
- I worked in the 3rd world for nearly 20 years. And lived in San Diego at the beach. Mixed message. False nobility. Trying to elevate myself in someone's eyes.
- I work at the College of Medicine. Maybe they think I am smart. HA!