Can we be friends?
Anyone who knows me will find this post SHOCKING, because I am a creature of habit. I feel most secure within routine. I like my comfort zone. I have a small bubble and I’m content staying inside its warm safety net. I am NOT a social butterfly. While I’m always happy to meet new people, I do not make new friends. I’m the one at the party who finds a comfy seat in a corner and plants herself until it’s just late enough to be considered socially acceptable to go home. I’d take a night on the couch with a bottle of wine having heart talk with a friend I’ve known for years over a wild night out every time.
As you may know, we recently moved across the country and left behind the family of friends we’d created over the past decade. I’m used to picking up and starting over. My “home” is Josh and Bowie. Josh is much more sociable than I am. He connects with everyone he meets. He has that thing. That magnetic energy that draws people in. I, on the other hand, typically do not. After years living in LA and being picked up and dropped by too many “friends” to count, I grew guarded. I found that city to be full of individuals too busy trying to “make it” or project a certain image to become invested in meaningful two-way friendships.
Over the years, I often felt disconnected and distrusting of the people I interacted with, so I grew a hardened shell and ultimately stopped trying. After 13 years there, I only had a couple of truly good friends I made over a decade ago, who I knew I would miss deeply. That said, I still wasn’t overly concerned about leaving. I’m such a homebody, I figured FaceTiming with those couple of people would suffice. We’ve been in a pandemic for the past year anyway, so not much would change…right? Wrong. After a couple of months in our new hometown, I realized there was a huge void where the security and comfort of meaningful, comfortable relationships used to be when they lived only a short drive away.
We’ve lived without family nearby for a long time. Without family around, you have to lean into your friendships even more. Knowing these friends were there, not just for the good times, but to also catch me in the bad times, was something that gave me great peace of mind. I didn’t know how hard not being near them would hit me until we were gone. A few months ago, Josh and I realized that while we were over the moon with 99% of our new life, not having anyone to enjoy it with could be a dealbreaker. It weighed on us heavily. As a mom and dad with no childcare who predominantly work from home, our options for how to meet new people were limited. Plus, we’re old. How the hell do you make new friends as a grownup?!
My advice: simply be open to it.
Shift your mindset. Approach the world with a warm welcome, instead of a preoccupied disposition. We spend so much of our lives with our heads down, getting shit done. And that’s totally normal, because there’s a lot of shit to get done! BUT, when we wander through the day with eyes up, open hearts and minds and a welcoming intention, the universe has a funny way of presenting people doing just the same.
I’ve made a couple of new friends over the past few months who I feel more comfortable and safe with than I had in over a decade in LA. These aren’t surface level acquaintances. They’re people I know I can lean on for support and who know I’m here to support them. People I can truly be myself around and who know they can be their authentic selves around me. That is my definition of a friend. When I left LA, I was so drained from killing time with people for the sake of socialization. You know what I mean. The people you hang with on the weekend just to hang with someone on the weekend. The ones that paint the picture of good times on the ‘gram, but who don’t truly fill your cup or make you feel at ease in your own skin. Those kind of relationships are performative and don’t do a hell of a lot for the soul. My heart was craving soul people and I’ve started to find them in Tennessee. While it’s been unexpected how quickly these relationships have formed, it hasn’t happened without intention. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and fearlessly stepped out of my front door finally open to leading with my soul, my heart and what makes me, me. Because of that, I’ve started to find my people in this beautiful, brand new place and it feels so damn good.
I’m sharing this because I know it gets harder and harder to make new friends the older you get, but I’ve learned that it’s possible. You deserve to lead a life that is full of love and purpose and meaningful connection. And you will. As soon as you open yourself up to sharing yours with others. You’re so special and you’ve got just what someone else’s soul is craving to offer so don’t keep it all to yourself! They’re waiting to meet you, just like you’re waiting to meet them!
Shenae Grimes-Beech is an actor and YouTuber with a highly engaged community of like-minded women who are here to stand up for what they believe in and lean into discomfort, especially when it means doing the right thing.