a circle of friends...
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my college days. The community served to you on a silver platter - the friends who were all, for the most part, in the same phase of life as you were. The opportunity to reinvent yourself and be whoever you wanted to be, simply because you’re no longer immersed in the same group of people you’ve been around for your entire childhood. At graduation, most of us left with a circle of friends we were certain we’d stay close with. The lucky ones lasted more than a couple of years.
It’s now almost a decade later, and my community looks vastly different than it did in college, or even how I imagined it would in my 30s. You watch TV shows and see Instagram posts about these women who have come to find beautiful community with multiple families and favorite traditions, and they spend all of their free time with each other. You read books about the importance of developing community at church, at your workplace, in your neighborhood and through random connections. There seems to be a cookie cutter formula for finding deep friendship that will last through the ages. I’ve spent the better part of a decade trying to grasp onto it and mold it into my life, but recently I’m finding it’s not about discovering the right formula, it’s about what you discover along the way.
My community is going to look different than yours, which will look different than what we see on television or read about on social media. Mine might come from here, where yours comes from there. Yours may be smaller or larger than hers. Yours may not look the way you expected. Dare I say, you may even have friends, close friends, that have different beliefs or political views. Let me be the one to tell you: that’s ok. Honestly, that may even be exactly what you need.
And with that, I want to share three tips with anyone who is struggling with friendship as an adult, looking for deep connection but unsure where to start.
allow friendship to be stronger than shared interests
I have a group of women that invited me to be part of their mastermind group back when I had a side business. We initially connected over planners and dreams and yearly goals, but quickly deepened that connection through a shared love of coffee, thrifting and empowering women. Our friendship had molded into such a beautiful rhythm that even when life circumstances and business changes ended our mastermind gatherings, we remained friends over those shared experiences. To this day, I consider them part of my closest circle. Deep connection through unexpected places.
be willing to say "yes" to new experiences & people
Last fall, I started teaching myself how to embroider. I picked up my hoop here and there, but it took me a few months to settle into a real desire to learn the craft, and even longer to realize I wanted to do it with other people. My husband suggested I join an embroidery group, and when I told him I doubt that exists for women my age, his response was “well then why don’t you start one?” That simple question honestly changed my entire perspective on what community can be, because after putting feelers out there on social media and meeting for a couple of months, we have a group of over twenty women who have expressed interest in being part of our regular gatherings. Embroidery & Libations (also lovingly known as Grandma Club), meets once a month in Jackson, Michigan and has turned into more than I ever expected it could be! I provide snacks and drinks and a semi-clean house. The girls bring their own projects, or we have some starter kits for anyone new to the hobby. We help the newbies get started and watch YouTube videos to learn new stitches. We listen to music and pet my cat, who expects everyone in the room to give her love at some point. We get to know one another and make fast friends with strangers over a needle and some thread, simply because we’re willing to show up and try something new. Deep connection through unexpected places.
be the one to initiate
Honestly, I think a big reason why we have such a hard time making and maintaining friendships is lack of intentionality. Between busy schedules and an assumption that others will reach out if they want to get together, it can be easy to slip into the routine of not connecting simply out of convenience. But we need people, and we can’t wait for someone else to initiate, just like we can’t assume a friendship will remain strong without intentionality. My challenge to you is this – reach out and ask a friend to coffee. Invite another couple over for a game night, or a mom and her kids over for a playdate. Even a simple text to check in or ask how you can be praying for them can show someone that you care and be a significant investment in your friendship. Deep connection through unexpected places.
Finding and maintaining friendship as adults isn’t easy; the best things in life usually aren’t. I would encourage you to try something small to invest in the women in your circle, or take a leap of faith and try something new to grow that circle. In her book Find Your People, Jennie Allen said, “from the moment you were born until you take your last breath, deep, authentic connection is the thing your soul most craves. Not just as an occasional experience, but as a reality woven into every day of your life.” You owe it to yourself, and the people around you, to make authentic connection a priority.
And if you’re in the Jackson, MI area and want to learn more about our embroidery club, it could be a great place to start! Search for Embroidery & Libations on Facebook and ask to join the group. We’d love to have you, and what you find might just surprise you.
Bekah is born and raised in Michigan where she serves her community by working wholeheartedly as the Office Director at her local homeless shelter. Bekah will always greet you with a warm smile, and an even warmer hug! She finds joy in the little things in life - the first cup of coffee in the morning, finishing a good book, finding a gem at at little thrift shop, enjoying dinner on the back deck with her husband, and pulling out the fall décor! "The small moments of joy help carry you through the larger waves of grief or struggle--they keep you grounded and keep you seeking the good in every day."
Photographs by Carly Kristin Photography. Embroidery image provided by Bekah Zraik.