We piled into the car enjoying the last rays of sunlight before afternoon storms moved in. Heading out on a road trip with girlfriends, we were about to spend a few hours poring over clothes at a massive vintage clothing sale in Boston. As we turned onto the highway, we giggled like school girls about dating later in life, hiking adventures, and how happy we were to be together.
For a moment, I sidestepped the conversation and thought about the gift of friendship and how this area of my life has changed so much in the last few years.
I spent a good amount of my adult life traveling for work and as a result, most of my close pals were located in different parts of the world. When I came home and stayed put for a while, I missed them. A lot. And I felt lonely. I longed for local friends who could grab breakfast or enjoy a spontaneous walk or movie, and yet I felt too embarrassed to do anything about it. How do you make friends later in life without looking like a loser? Harsh, I know, but that’s how I felt – silly for needing friends and clueless about how to find them. That’s until I started getting emails from readers who admitted the same thing and I didn’t feel so alone.
Now, laughing with a group of women I’ve come to adore, I had one of those moments when you realize you’ve arrived at a place you weren’t quite sure you’d ever get to. And because so many of you write and ask how to make new friends later in life, I wanted to share how I got here with you.
I took risks. I went to places and did things that challenged me and I forced myself to talk to people in spite of the fact that I’m more of an introvert than I appear. More specifically, I engaged in activities that were of interest to me and that required regular, ongoing visits. For example, I joined a small Crossfit gym and worked out three times a week. I started polar plunging with a group of thirty women every Friday and accepted invitations to plunge with smaller groups on other days as well.
As I got to know people in these places, I invited some for tea or to dinner even though I felt like an awkward teenager – vulnerable, afraid of being rejected, or nervous about what to say. And I started accepting invitations I used to decline because of the complications of living a public life. This decision rewarded me with the opportunity to meet interesting people who shared my desire to build healthy, fun relationships with intention and care.
My risk-taking has paid off in more ways than I ever could have imagined. A willingness to show up in spite of how easy it is to stay home has gifted me with new friends who truly love, care for, and support one another. Turns out that if you’re willing to be the awkward teenager long enough, you may just find a great group of kids to share your life with.
There are so many people ready, willing, and hoping to make new friends and if I could introduce you to the awesome folks in this community I would. But you need to leave the house and strike out on your own. Your group is waiting… get out there and play!