I had lived in 13 homes by the time I was 13 years old. I was used to making new friends as a kid so the idea of moving as an adult wasn’t so frightening. As a family with young children, we moved a few times and finally settled down for 18 years in northern New Jersey. It was a great place to raise a family and we made some wonderful friends along the way.
In the midst of covid in October of 2020 my husband and I decided to make another move and within a week of making the decision to move to Austin, our house was sold and we were packing boxes. Six weeks later we were in a new home (new to us) in Austin, Texas. One of our daughters (25) decided to come along for the ride while the other (22) remained in NYC in law school. Our movers arrived at 8am and left at 630pm on a 90 degree day in the beginning of October. From my past experiences of moving into new homes, I fully expected to have a plate of brownies or a bottle of wine brought over by a neighbor. Nothing….not a hello, not a cookie, nothing….
I assumed Covid was responsible for this social isolation so I didn’t hold it against anyone. I was as afraid of it as I’m sure everyone else was. I began the process of settling in, unpacking, working from home and finding my way (thank you WAZE) through my new town to the grocery store, Target and Home Goods. Weeks went by, and then months went by, without meeting the neighbors. It turns out, it is actually quite difficult to make new friends organically without young children. There are no school events to volunteer for, no bars to safely sit at and meet people, no place to connect without a built in community. Even the synagogue we went to felt isolating as we were all masked. I wasn’t willing to go to a gym due to covid so the places to meet like minded women were few and far between.
Friendships are built through shared experiences, and covid had limited the experiences I could have. Every town I lived in I cultivated a group of women that I could run with and socialize, but these friendships were built in my synagogue and my children’s schools. I never really had to do the work. Today, as a woman in my mid 50’s with no small children, I find it difficult to find “my people”. I have struggled with the belief that maybe seeing my friends in other cities a few times a year and talking on the phone daily with FaceTime is enough for me now. I have a few incredible friends that mean the world to me and I feel very grateful for them. But I was finding myself a little lonely and craving some girl time. I’ve had friends fly in for the weekend, and I’ve flown to visit them, but having a friend or two in town to grab a cup of coffee with seems to be important to me. I derive my energy from others
It feels like we are all emerging from this massive transition in our lives. Covid changed everything (at least for me) and my social world took a big hit. I feel like now I have the opportunity to decide what is important to me regarding friendships and connections. It turns out, I am not alone in this shift. I was chatting with a close friend the other day and we were discussing the changes that occurred as a result of covid. We both became much more isolated. As we emerge from this pandemic (I know it’s not over, but I do believe it is changing) we have the opportunity to recalibrate our social world. It’s up to us to decide how we engage and who we want in our lives. Our needs as adult women have changed, therefore who I once defined as “my people” aren’t necessarily “my people” today. The women I am looking to connect with don’t have to have kids the same ages as me, or play the same sports. My people are no longer defined by the lives of my children - they are defined by me.
I have set out to try to make friends post covid (wish) in a new city, as a woman in her mid 50’s with no small children. Where do you find people? Grocery stores, clothing stores, CVS? I joined Facebook groups and a group at the Jewish Community Center and reached out to people from my old town that connected me with locals. So it turns out that it’s a little like dating again. I go for coffee, chat, find a place to connect emotionally. I’ve learned that my people are actually more different than alike. I’ve opened myself up to people that are not my typical circle of women. They have different backgrounds, different families with different interests. But they have depth and they are fun and funny. I have found that stepping outside my comfort zone, even in friendships, actually allows for more opportunities and experiences that bring more joy. I find that I need women friends in my life because they give me strength and more energy and my women friends guide me and feed my soul. We all continue to evolve and new people in our lives assist in that evolution and foster our growth. Not every woman needs female friends, but it turns out I know that I do.