If you follow me, you may have come across a post I wrote about loneliness and friendship. I think making friends as an adult is hard. The post garnered a fair bit of engagement so it seems to have resonated. This led me to think about how community plays a role in fostering friendship and keeping loneliness at bay.
According to Marisa G. Franco, Ph.D., author, psychologist and friendship expert, we humans are communal by nature. She says there are 3 layers of loneliness: Intimate when we don’t have close connections with a partner or best friend; relational which is a lack of friendships; and collective when we don’t have a community. I thought this was an insightful way to look at how we’re connected to others. It helps us identify where we might be missing connection.
Supposedly technology and social media keeps us all “well-connected”, right? But, does it contribute to our well-being? I’m not so sure. In truth, I think it can contribute to our loneliness and isolation.
We post about family gatherings, meeting up with friends, and going on vacation. It looks like our lives are full and happy. Nobody posts about how lonely they are.
We always look our best, wear great outfits, and eat healthy and delicious food. Even though a lot of the time, we don’t look our best, our relationships are difficult, and sometimes we eat crap in front of the TV. Nobody posts about the real life everyday grind.
I have slowly learned over the years that when I’m feeling down, it’s because I haven’t made meaningful in-person connections. That’s been especially true over the last few years. And when I’m feeling a little lonely and depressed, I self-isolate. I don’t reach out to family and friends. I don’t go out. And then I feel sorry for myself. Especially after I’ve scrolled through social media.
So now, I know the signs to look for. When I don’t want to reach out, that’s precisely when I need to do. When I make all kinds of excuses why I can’t or shouldn’t go out, that’s a sure sign. Of course, when I’m stuck in that mire of self-pity, it’s the last thing I want to do. But, based upon experience, if I force myself, I’ll feel better on the other side.
Also as I previously mentioned, making new friends as an adult is hard. Yes, I’m saying it out loud. I found this to be true after my marriage ended. Even more so now with my daughter being away at school. The opportunities are fewer and the fear of rejection is much greater than when I was in school or starting out in my career. Back then, there always seemed to be friends around.
I find, and maybe it’s just me, that women around my age typically have a longtime close friend or group of friends. They’re not looking for a new friend. I don’t know, it might just be me feeling that way, projecting it on to different people and situations though.
Plus, my natural tendency is to wait for an invitation. If you’re into Human Design, I’m a Projector so my strategy is waiting for recognition and an invitation. Uggh, I so did not want to be a Projector, but I can clearly see how I’ve been this way my entire life. Human Design and being a Projector is a whole other future blog post…
However, recently I have pushed myself to take a risk and reach out to a few new people. The first is someone I’ve met in the adoption community, a fellow mom whose Chinese daughter is also grown up and attending university. After our Chinese New Year celebration, I decided to reach out to her directly outside of the group email string because it turns out we live in the same neighbourhood. I suggested we could maybe grab a coffee together sometime.
Days went by and I didn’t receive a reply back. I thought to myself, this is why I don’t reach out first. But something nudged me to check my sent email folder. A few of my emails had gone astray of late. I couldn’t find the email anywhere so I emailed her again. I got a response back right away. She would love to get together for lunch at one of our favourite neighbourhood cafes in a couple of weeks when her schedule settles down.
We’ve not had our lunch date yet but I’m hopeful it will happen soon.
Then the other day as I was out walking my dog, I ran into a woman along the path. She stopped to pat Ollie and told me how it was just her and her 16 year old dog until he passed away last year. As we were parting ways, at the last second, I told her about the community coffee shops I’m hosting at our condo clubhouse. I invited her to join in and she seemed quite interested.
When the list of upcoming coffee shop events went out to the community, she was the first to sign up for 3 out of 4 events. I was delighted!
Which is a great segue way into this week’s COKANNA coffee shop, our Galentine’s Day Celebration on Thursday, February 16th at 11:00 am. We’ll be celebrating the love of friendship, single or not, female or male, with good company & conversation, coffee/tea & dessert, and Tarot card readings with Ilona Arends of Authentically You Tarot.
If you’re free and live in the Ottawa area, and would like to make a new friend or 2, please join us. The event is free. Just register here and get the details on location, parking, etc.
And of course, you can bring along a friend or 2, the more the merrier. I would just ask that you sign up for the appropriate # of tickets so we can make sure we have enough seats and coffee/tea & dessert!
Doing these community coffee shops really satisfies the relational/friendship and collective/community layers of loneliness for me. I hope it does the same for you.
Happy Galentine’s Day!
Until next time,