Where is Home
Will Work for Friends
Will Work for Friends
“Will Work for Friends” was a tongue and cheek article from 20 years ago in the Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine. I was living in Minneapolis at the time and the issue of finding friends was such an issue in the city, that it made the Minneapolis St. Paul magazine cover. The cover had man and woman, both in their late twenties holding a carboard sign “will work for friends”.
The original story told the plight of finding friends and how it was so difficult after school and once they had joined the workforce.
Friendship and community connection are critical to the success of a relocation for each family member. These connections are what ground us.
Without connections we struggle to find any kind of normal.
Connections from acquaintance to deep “you can call me at 3am”, all weave together to form a sense of security and support. The connections in the local community make a difference. They form a cornerstone stability from which a sense of home can be built.
But as adults where do we start?
Why is it so hard?
Most of us adults think finding friends should be easy, like it was in school. The magic of school led us to believe that friendships just happen. We strike up a conversation with that right person and we are Best friends forever or at least until the end of the school year. It was predictable and we seemed to just have friends.
Except this is not actually the way friendships begin or evolve.
School made us think friendships happened by magic.
Relationships like most everything else evolve. It begins with an introduction, then getting to know you, the shared experiences, the testing and the deciding. Each piece is integral to the relationship process. Because these things happened as a result of the K-12 years we did not see the individual steps in the process and therefore did not know they existed.
So now when we step out into the real world of our new community, we use faulty expectations. This process requires more time and attention than we expect to give it. This leads us to think we are incapable of connecting or finding friends. And after the magic does not work, we give up accepting failure.
Beyond the faulty childhood friendship expectations, we typically don’t recognize a shift in rules.
The Rules Changed
When we move more than 30 miles from where we begin, know that the rules of engagement have changed. If you really think about it, say the next town over, you can see it. How the community interacts with each other and outsiders. What the community finds of utmost importance. Even how they typically vote.
Each community no matter how big or small, has its rhythm and a way of doing things. This can be pointed out to us in what time is the acceptable time to put on the garbage or whether or not we should support the local sports teams.
He let her go ahead on Christmas Eve!?!!
When my sister visited me in Texas for the first time she went to the grocery store on Christmas Eve around 4pm just before the store were closing at 5pm. As she stood in line to pay with her 5 items the gentleman ahead of her, with a few more items than her, invited her to go ahead of her. This was gob smacking to her. Where she was living everyone was kind and patient but this type of courtesy was rarely offered, especially when both had a similar number of items.
It isn’t that one is better or worse. It is just that the rules of engagement are different from community to community.
Expecting what’s not there
The other challenge to relocation is that when we live in a part of the country like the one my sister walked into, we begin to EXPECT that is the norm everywhere. That everyone SHOULD act a certain way, like your neighbors should show up with contact information and a plate of cookies on the day you move in. Or perhaps neighbors should mind their own business until there is an emergency.
What are your expectations?
But it should be….
When we move into a new community, we expect that it will be like where we came from. The last community is then the latest point of reference. Why would it be different?
These “universal truths or expectations” are what get us into trouble the fastest. Expecting things of people that have no knowledge of how we believe it should be, sets us up for immediate disappointment.
So how do you traverse these things and find your people?
How to find friends…your tribe!
First, understand the relationship process from first meeting to “can call you at 3am”. There are many different steps and required bridges to cross between them. See Connections: The power of female friendships by Mary Sheehy.
By understand the process you set reasonable expectations for yourself and others. One of the biggest mistakes I made year after year was expecting too much of people. They were kind of weirded out. Do not, be me.
Second, do what you love! Find whatever version of what you love in the local community, sign up, make arrangements and get involved. In doing what you love and are passionate about, you will easily find like minded people who you can build shared experiences with.
Shared experiences are one of the keys to building connected relationships.
Third, learn – learn – learn. Use this time and attention to learn about the local community. Learn those unspoken cultural rules through observation. Learn what they all get excited about and are passionate about. Learn and find the places where you fit into this new local community.
No place is perfect and neither are the people. First learn what is there and then find where you want to participate and …participate.
On the ReloWomen podcast on Thursday we are going to talk a little more about those friendship stages from two perspectives. It is when we have missed expectations that we do the most damage to self confidence around our ability to make friends.
It does take getting out there and on Thursday I will help you understand how that process flows and relationships evolve so that you are as effective as possible.
If you are ready to learn how
ReloWomen WholeLife coaching can help you.
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