Sisterhood + Why It's Hard To Make New Friends
This post brought up quite a bit of conversation on my last blog. The reality of sisterhood, making new girlfriends (especially later in life), and the hardships women go through to feel like they "fit in" are topics that aren't typically discussed. Until today :) Here's a bit about my own struggle and story, and I'd love to hear your thoughts after you read through it in the comments!
I’m an outgoing person by nature. I love my alone time and definitely cherish it, but I thrive when I’m feeling connected and physically in touch with friends and loved ones.
After moving to the suburbs and somewhere totally new, the past two years have left me feeling slightly disconnected and on an emotional rollercoaster until the latter months of 2016.
I finally feel like I’m in a place where all of my relationships are truly thriving—with my husband, my family, my friendships, my tribe (that’s you!), and of course, with myself.
That certainly doesn’t mean things are perfect. But let’s just say there’s more open communication and authenticity happening than ever before.
I pride myself on being a very open, honest, and kind-hearted person, yet making and maintaining genuine female friendships has always been a struggle.
Over the years, many of my friends and readers have shared similar sentiment. Which, of course, meant that it was time for me to write about it!
Everyone expects friendships to come and go throughout middle school, high school, and college. It’s human nature to adjust our friendships to our current lifestyles.
I was always a mover and a shaker after college (a wannabe nomad, if we’re being honest!). I lived in eight different cities between 2007 and 2015. There was a lot of movement happening in my life.
I never stayed in one location for longer than two years, and during that time, I rarely experienced difficultly in finding friends that I enjoyed spending time with.
But this recent transition to the suburbs–-well, let’s just say it’s been quite the opposite experience.
I truly believe we all need sound female relationships in our lives in order to thrive as human beings. As wonderful as my husband is, he simply can’t give me what I’m craving from friendships.
If I’m being totally honest, my first year in Connecticut left me feeling lonely and depressed quite often.
I remember being in tears several nights per month when Ryan came home from work because I couldn’t understand how such a happy person (me!) could feel this lost and isolated…especially in a new beautiful home, with her new fantastic fiancé, right before their oh-so-fabulous wedding. (I'm giving my husband a shoutout here for being by my side through all of this during what should have been such an incredibly joyous time. He's one outstanding human being!)
These feelings weren’t for lack of effort. I went out of my way to try to meet people left and right. Here’s some examples of what I did…
- I sent emails to women who lived in my area and graduated from my nutrition school, The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I met one of the ten or so I emailed and we had a relationship for a few months.
- I semi-stalked a dietician at my grocery store (I hope you’re LOL’ing) and then we met and had lunch. It’s always easier to try to connect with people who you know you’ll have a lot in common with. She was super nice, but ended up moving.
- I reached out to women around my age who I met online and lived in nearby cities. One of them was my friend Julia of lemonstripes.com, and her and her husband have quickly become one of our fave couples to hang out with. She’s been an amazing friend and we’ve only known each other for a year.
- I bonded with a community of women who were in my business realm and mostly lived in NYC. I sent dozens of emails, asked to be introduced through mutual friends, and showed up at events so I could feel like I wasn’t alone because I knew these women “got me” in a way my other friends couldn’t relate to.
The latter has helped me in so many ways. It’s difficult living in a town that caters to Mom’s and kids, especially as an entrepreneur with no kiddos who works from home, and is a bit younger than the average Fairfield County, CT homeowner.
Connecting with other female business owners in NYC and throughout the country has been my biggest blessing. I’ve literally met over 100 women in this arena in the past two years, and can honestly say that the few whom I’ve really connected with have been my saving grace.
Things have only become somewhat easy in the recent past (probably around January 2016).
Before that, there were times where I felt judged for simply being myself.
I felt isolated and was treated in ways that I thought were left to the bullying teenagers we grew up with who didn’t know any better. It was naive of me to believe this behavior among women dissipates as we age.
But you know what? I’m totally okay with all of it now. Instead of needing to be liked by everyone (one of my biggest issues since I was a kid!), I’d rather be liked by the people who know who I am at my core.
Ironically, I stumbled upon the book Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin around this same time, and realized that the feelings of isolation and needing to “climb the social ladder” are quite common. (The book is awesomesauce, by the way–buy it here).
I've talked to dozens of women about this topic, and what I went through is not unique to me or to Connecticut/NYC.
Based on my experience, when I hear this “sisterhood” word that seems to have sprung up everywhere, I’m not so sure I can relate.
Meeting and befriending women from the age of 27 until now has been a far cry from feeling like a sisterhood for me.
It’s a challenging time for a lot of us, right? In our 20’s and 30’s, we’re dating, getting married, trying to get pregnant, having babies, working crazy hours or staying at home and raising those babies, figuring out life now that our 20’s are over and we’re ready to take ourselves more seriously, and dealing with all of the crazy stuff in between.
It’s not easy to meet other women during this time. But we have to make the effort because we need each other.
There’s a lot of reasons I feel the way I do. And I promise not one of them has to do with me feeling like a victim.
These reasons seem to have impacted my relationships the most:
- I grew up with twin younger brothers and was always close with my Dad. I watched football instead of playing with dolls on Sundays!
- I’m nice. Really nice. And for some reason, I truly believe this intimidates other women.
- I’ve moved a lot. It’s difficult to set up roots and lasting friendships when you’re always on the go.
- I don’t put up with BS or drama and only hold on to friendships that feel like a two-way street. I’ve had many difficult discussions with friends in the past two years about feeling like our relationships were one-sided, and one of my best friends (Love you C!) had that same conversation with me. I give my heart and soul to my closest friends, and they reciprocate.
So yeah, making new girlfriends ain’t easy, no matter your age.
I’m not saying I think the whole “sisterhood revolution” is a sham (in fact it’s quite the opposite), but I do believe those who preach it may not always be the ones who practice it. Women are taking over the world, but we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to authenticity and acceptance of our fellow peers and community members.
What you see is not always what you get, and I have to remind myself of this allllllllll the time! Remember that even the most successful, beautiful, “have it all” kind of girls are going through their own struggles.
After years of searching for my “crew,” I’ve found some pretty solid besties in both my business and personal life. They span the country and have been around through all walks of my life, and I love them dearly. You know who you are
In an effort to create real, lasting friendships, what can you do?
- Try being less judgmental. We often judge other women without even realizing we’re doing it. What you think you know is typically never the full story. Give someone a chance to show you who they are before you place any judgments.
- Remember that people come in and out of your life for a reason. Women experience so many transitions during our “getting to know ourselves” years between the ages of 20-40, and the relationships you build during those years are meant to teach you lessons.
- Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Meeting new people can certainly be scary, especially for introverted types, but it needs to happen if your goal is to create community. Like attracts like, so base where you’re hanging out on who you want to meet. If you love working out, try a few different studios and engage with members and the staff. If you’re an entrepreneur, work from different cafes throughout your week and start up conversation. If you’re a Mommy, head to the playground and your little babe will do the work for you!
An example: Just last week, I was at an event in NYC and my friend Rachel introduced me to a gal who had just moved here from Chicago, worked from home, and felt a little isolated. I said to her “Girlll, I’ve been there!” and I could instantly see a wave of relief flash across her face. Within four minutes, I learned that she loved to workout, so I suggested we take a yoga class together and grab tea after. I gave her my number and we’re planning our first girl date.
The reward far outweighs the fear of putting yourself out there. It takes work to create your tribe of awesome women that you can totally be your goofy self around, but it’s always worth it.
And remember–your relationships and the people you choose to spend time with affect your health and wellbeing, so they deserve just as much attention as food and nutrition.
Wow! Writing this felt amazing, almost like a form of therapy because I’ve been holding on to some thoughts for years. So thank you my loves for creating a safe space for me to be vulnerable with you and open up once again. You’re all so wonderful!
I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below so we can create conversation.
What’s going on in your life when it comes to female friendships? Are you one of those people who’s had the same besties since high school or college? Can you relate to my story of moving around a lot and having difficulty in finding people who “get you?” Have you ever felt judged or like people had a perceived image of what you were all about before they even got to know you? I know this is a super juicy topic, so I appreciate anything you’re willing to share!