Note from Shasta: I've been writing so many guest blogs to celebrate my new book "Friendships Don't Just Happen!" that I decided I may need to have a few women guest blog for me until I have more words to share! :) Soon, I'm goingto start blogging about any questions you have as you read the book, concepts you wish I would unpack more, or anything you wished I would have highlighted-- post those questions on our Facebook page and I'll answer them here! For now, this is Christie Mims-- a brand new mover-and-shaker here in the San Francisco area. (Her bio is at the end.)
Making New Friends in a New City, by Christie Mims
I like to think of myself as a fairly cool person who is easy to get to know. I shower regularly, I smile often, I like dogs (I distrust people who don’t like dogs), and I have a passionate love for 1981 (3?) killer movie: “Staying Alive.” There may have only been about five actual pages of dialogue, but boy do the large hair and hand gestures make up for it. John Travolta, you have my endless thanks.
I also love my friends. Friendship, for a long time, has been one of my most important life values. My friends are like my family. They are my sanity, and the people who give me joy. I try to write, reach out, communicate, drink, and play with my friends as often as possible. And even when they are scattered all over the world,
I will travel to see them when I can. They matter to me.
So, when I decided on a bit of a whim to uproot my revolutionary Career Coaching business from DC to San Francisco, I thought I would be fine. My business is global, so it would be easy, right?
Sure, a lot of my friends were in DC, “but - I’ve got friends all over the world!” I thought to myself jauntily as I packed up my car, fresh from a trip to Germany to see some of said friends.
“I’ll be fine!” I said as I drove across country with my mom “I’ve got two amazing friends already in SF, plus all the people I’m sure I’ll meet. It’ll be great!”
“I’m good at staying in touch over email!” I said as I unpacked my stuff, alone in my new apartment for the first time.
“I’ll hang out with my friends here all the time!” I thought, as I sat around wondering what to do with myself...knowing that one of my friends was a new mom, and the other was deep in the throes of an all-consuming start-up.
Making New Friends isn't as Easy as it Sounds
And then it hit me.
I was alone in a new city, far from home and in an inconvenient time zone. When I was lonely at night in my new home, my east coast friends were fast asleep (to say nothing of the Europeans). And my friends here, while AMAZING, are pretty busy and not that close to me in terms of location. The bay area is bigger than I realized (I’m really terrible with geography...I blame the US school system. Also, who needs algebra? Really?).
The truth is that it was awful.
Weekends were the worst - I had full days stretching in front of me with nothing but time, and no one to share that time with. And, I was also working hard on my business, stretching out of my comfort zone, building up my visibility in San Francisco, and learning about the city and the culture. It was exhausting, and at the end of the day, I just wanted to be with someone who knew me. Who would come over for a glass of wine and watch bad tv and talk about boys or shoes.
I was lonely.
I was sad.
And I felt so lost.
But I Made My Friendships Happen!
So I did what I know how to do. I networked (I’m from DC, it’s what we do). At events with women. Hoping that maybe I would meet someone cool, and at minimum I would make business connections. I reached out. I introduced myself awkwardly and invited people to lunch or coffee.
I stalked some people over email if I thought we would hit it off.
I signed myself up for Shasta’s Friendship Accelerator (Note from Shasta: see below for description of these workshops!), hoping that I would at least kill some time on a lonely Saturday, and thinking it would probably teach me something interesting. I told myself I needed to smile a lot and enjoy the city that I chose.
And I kept doing it.
It was not easy. Most of the time, especially in the beginning, it wasn’t even particularly fun.
But I was open to it. And cognizant of the fact that friendship has to start somewhere - and I needed to keep pushing myself out there so I would go from random coffees to full on friends. Friendship, as Shasta sagely says, is based on consistency and intimacy. You need to have both to have close friends.
So I threw myself into weekly dinners with my accelerator group.
I set up regular card nights with old and new friends (trying to integrate groups!).
I asked friends to introduce me to their friends in the area.
I joined new meetups and organizations such as A Band of Wives (abusing google search in my attempts to find all possibilities).
And I kept going back.
I’ve been in the Bay Area now for roughly four months. My social life, which felt a little like a broken puzzle when I first arrived, is now starting to snap into focus.
I’ve got friends, and plans, and some consistency with the friends and plans in my life. It matters. I remember when I had a week in the fall where I spent time with old and new friends almost every night, and at the end of it I felt like a new person. It honestly impacted my health, and made making friends here an even bigger priority in my life.
I feel like I finally made it...and I’m so grateful to be building a life.
I know how difficult it is to just land, so, if you are new to the city - shoot me an email, I’m happy to have a glass of wine and say hello! And if you are in another city, spend some time to get out there and connect with interesting new people. Most importantly don’t give up - you’ll get there. I did (and if I did, anyone can do it. I mean, I love Stayin’ Alive, so that is one strike against me :))!
About Christie: Christie holds a BA from the University of Virginia, a MA from the University of Kent, Brussels School of International Studies, and is a certified mediator and certified professional coach. Feeling stuck in your job and want free concrete ways to get UNstuck? Get Christie’s free kit here at The Revolutionary Club! And see what else she’s doing that is unprecedented over here!
About Friendship Accelerators: I (Shasta) facilitate Friendship Accelerators which are small groups of women that I've matched for potential friendship who commit to attend seven hours of a friendship-workshop and group-bonding day, followed by 4 weekly get-togethers as a group. In one month, these groups experience more bonding than what most of us can do over a year with women we've met. They've been fabulously successful with the majority of women saying the value of the workshop alone was worth it, but how thrilled they are that nearly 80% of the groups are still meeting months after their commitment ended! This is by far the most effective way I've yet seen to introduce women to each other and give them the best chance ever to foster local friendships that matter. I'm considering possible Accelerators in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle the coming months-- but will decide bases on where I have the most interest so sign up here to indicate your interest in being notified if I host a Friendship Accelerator near you!