I was fortunate that at an early age I grew up in a community that not only accepted my weirdness, but celebrated it!
I'm finding more and more as I connect with communities online, just how lucky I've been. Many excitable, gifted, intense and creative people who don't fit into the "mainstream," struggle to find a place where they really connect.
My parents found connection in the Unitarian Universalist community and raised us with their intergenerational support. This summer, my sister, mom and I went with the kids to an intergenerational UU creative arts camp. Listening to stories of people struggling to find acceptance over the years made me realize how easy it is to take it for granted when my parents worked so hard to get us to that place.
When I first moved to the Pacific Northwest, I went through a period of intense loneliness. Finding friends as an adult is hard stuff! Especially once you are out of school.
I tried the local UU community, but at the time there were not a whole lot of young adults. I finally found my place in a local theatre company, which was also something I had done growing up. When I became a single parent of an infant though, it became harder and harder to stay involved and then the theatre went under.
I decided to try the UU community in the bigger city of Portland, and have since developed the most amazing group of friends I could imagine. It would not have happened though, if I just attended events and let it end there. Here are some things that I did to help build my own network of compatible lifeforms:
1. Find groups with common interests. Maybe something you did as a child or teen? Maybe something new? Just remember that every community is different and what works for you in one place and time might not work at another place and time. Some additional places I've found connection include other spiritual minded groups and most recently groups of other women entrepreneurs. Other places may include creative groups, social justice organizations, sports and other common activities.
2. Connect individually, outside of the groups. The first time I asked my good friend Lana out outside of the group we were involved in together, it seriously felt like asking her out on a date! Getting up the nerve to do so was the best thing I ever did! We had been going to events together for almost a year so I had a pretty good feeling we would connect, but you never know what's on the other side. Reaching out like that opened up a whole line of reaching out to each other and spurred off an amazing group of friends!
3. Don't take things personally. Once I started reaching out to people individually, if someone declined or said they were too busy, I tried very hard not to take it personally. I reminded myself that everybody is in a different stage of life and they might legitimately have way too much going on to add one more thing to their plate. I once heard a quote about how you never know another person's true motivations, so you might as well assume the one that is best for you. This has worked out for me pretty well thus far.
4. Be persistent. When I started sending out individual invitations to things, I started to get a sense for those who really did want to connect at a later time and those who just had other things they were focusing on. I'd plan something with one good friend and then reach out to a few of those who had expressed interest in hanging out in the past. That way, it was no big deal if they declined and if they decided they could make it, it was a bonus!
5. Find a coconspirator. Once Lana and I connected, we each reached out and started planning events and ways to connect with others. It started with individual invitations and developed into a group where you could throw out an idea and get some pals to come along. It may be that you don't want a whole big group, but finding even one like minded friend you can connect with and conspire with can go a long way!
Now I would love to hear from you! Where have you found compatible lifeforms and how did you connect?
Hey by the way, did you know I have a Facebook Group called the League of Excitable Women? You should come join us there if you are so inclined. You might just find some more compatible life forms.
This was written as a part of Hoagies' Gifted Blog Hop