As states begin to open and hopes of life returning to normal bubble up, I think it is important to recognize that many of us feel that there is a tug of loneliness in the excitement of being able to see our people again. Though most of us have many social media friends and work friends and people we see regularly, I think it is natural to wonder whether you have a full tribe?
There is a tapestry of individuals and groups that make up a rich social life and identifying what types of people you would like to make up yours can bring you one step closer to transforming that loneliness into a sense of well-being and social connectedness. Here are the types that I feel are mandatory for my own social life:
-Old friends. Some of my old friends I speak to often, others zig and zag out of my life when we cross paths or on a momentous occasion. Regardless, there is a certain type of life-affirming validity that comes with someone who knew you back when, someone that will remind you of the almost forgotten stories and laugh with you at the old memories. In a way, these friends know you best, know your truest nature, and it’s important to keep them close. Lucky for me, my sisters fit into this category as well.
-Someone you can be completely honest, open and raw with. There are few people that we let see the ugly truth of our lives- our bitter disappointments, our struggles that we are ashamed of, our fears, insecurities and failures. For some of us, we have a significant other that fills this role, although often we need someone else that we can ask about our relationship- is this normal? Am I crazy? Regardless, we need one, two or three people who know it all, see us completely, and still love us.
-Fun and spontaneous friends. I need someone in my life I can call on a Tuesday afternoon and say “tacos and margaritas tonight?” or someone I can text on a Wednesday, “Miami this weekend?” These are your people that keep you light and fun and engaged. And really, if you don’t have friends that you can have unscheduled fun with, is your tribe complete?
-The reliable friend. You know, he is the one who will bring you chicken soup and pick up your antibiotics when you are sick. She is the one that will babysit last minute when something comes up. It could be a neighbor that will water your tree while you are out of town the weekend before Christmas or the friend that you will know will show up for any party you throw and stay to help you clean up.
-The friend who challenges you. This could be someone who encourages you to level up professionally or pushes you to get out of your comfort zone personally, someone who will say “why not” when you ask if you should go sky diving or get a dog or travel to Antarctica.
-Friends who like to do what you do. Yes, I go for many runs throughout the week around my neighborhood by myself, but when I get to meet up with a friend and run? So much better. Same with hiking, exploring new restaurants, travel, going to a baseball game…. Solo time is huge, and I can enjoy many activities by myself, but it’s also nice to have friends along for the ride.
-New friends. Hopefully, you are evolving, growing and changing in your career and your interests. Your old friends can join in, but I think it’s also important to make new friends who are doing the same things in life that you are doing. Just got your MBA? Keep doing happy hours with those folks. Just got a new job? Join the company softball team. Took up guitar? Join a group of people who like to jam on the weekends. New friends keep life rich and interesting and keep you invested in growing.
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