As I mentioned here, the best option for my life and marriage was to resign my position as a full-time educator at my high-performing charter school. Now I am working as a part-time private tutor and substitute teacher (again), and living a domestic life. I fill most of my time caring for our home and working that domestic diva magic. I am a creature of habit and have my daily routines; around 1:00, I typically am doing laundry or cleaning the kitchen. During this time, it has been natural to tune in to the E! channel and catch a dose of Carrie on "Sex and the City" (It's kind of a guilty pleasure that doesn't make me feel as ridiculous as when I watch any of the "Real House Wives"). Over the last week or so, I bonded a little bit more with Ms. Bradshaw when I realized that her ample dating in search of "Mr. Right" felt a lot like my attempt to make more friends as an adult (um...minus the promiscuous sex, of course-- that's not the route I take in search of friends).
Unlike, Carrie, I can honestly say that I have no clue as to what the dating world is like. I've never had a short-term relationship let alone a random date. I've had two long-term relationships and one turned into marriage. Going on a casual date with a guy and ending the night debating if I was into him/going to call or see him again OR horrified/ not planning on seeing him ever again has never been an experience I have encountered. Before I met my husband, I was always a nervous wreck when I would get any kind of flirtatious attention from a guy-- "WHAT DO I DO?!", regardless of my interest or lack thereof, was always something that ran through my head. Usually my lack of response was presented in a polite smile and then quick departure of the scene-- yes I was kind of awkward with the opposite sex.
Anyway, like I said, my connection to Carrie Bradshaw has nothing to do with finding "Mr. Right" (I already found him and you can see him here). Instead, I realized while she was dating men and hunting for the right catch, I was/am attempting to seek new female friends who are around the same age as I am with have similar interests. It's a lot harder to find yourself a few extra quality girlfriends, if you're a young professional woman (or maybe you're not a career woman and this still applies to you) than one would think!
As a child and teen, I was always pretty outgoing. It was typically easy for me to get along with others and in high school I acquired a great deal of fantastic friends who definitely brought out a lot of the good in me. Unfortunately, like most people know, it's hard to stay in strong contact with friends from home when you all move away to live out your college experiences and pursue your adult goals and aspirations. Most of my greatest friends from this category are more than six hours away from me-- it's kind of hard to ask a gal to have lunch or go on a run when she's an entire day's drive apart. Next, there's college friends. Well...I don't really know what to say about that. I moved far away from home and went to an extremely small private university and everything felt like high school all over again, but not necessarily in the good way. I finished earning my B.A. and M.Ed. with just a few close friends on my arm and several acquaintances behind with the unfortunate memories of poor social college experience. Fortunately for me, those close friends I hung on to are still heavily in my life, but just like at the end of high school-- we began to go in different geographical locations to pursue the rest of our big picture and find our purpose.
So, there I was-- a young professional starting her full-time career as a busy teacher fresh out of grad school with most of her greatest friends far away (with the exception of my best friend who became my roommate for a few years after the fact). Although working long hours didn't leave much time for a social life beyond a relationship with Henry (boyfriend at the time), I still found myself wanting a little more quality female companionship to add to my teeny circle of pals. This is where I can find a slight parallel with Ms. Bradshaw.
I came to think, if my social network of genuine and worthy friendships dwindled down more than the average early 20's gal, how would I get myself back in the game-- were there others out there who shared my interests, morals, and character who were also wondering the same things? Where would I find these women? No, I never dated around with men...but this whole thing sure felt like a dating game for a friend. This is probably how Paul Rudd's character in "I Love You, Man" felt.
Since I spent 75% of my time working at my school site, you would imagine I may accumulate a handful of fantastic friends there. This is indeed quite true. However, seeing as how I finished grad school/earning my credential at barely the age of 21, I was definitely the baby of the staff. Most of my dear friends, from here, are much older than I am. Although there's absolutely nothing wrong with that-- there's a lot of differences going on with our lives outside of work that just don't relate. I have several wonderful female friends from my place of work (rather, where I worked) that are true confidants and companions. However, in addition to similar interests, I needed more gal pals that were on the same pace and near the same place in life as I was. Fortunately, few years after working at my school, the Friendship Fairies sent down a blessing and I now have an amazing dear friend as a result of her joining the staff.
Okay. But hold on. I'm social, outgoing, friendly, caring-- I don't mean to sound cocky, but I've got good qualities going on. I should be able to make more uplifting friends like my new coworker easily, right? Uh. No. Not necessarily so. But, I do try...I'm out there! I'm putting myself on the line and taking chances with potential "Miss Right's". In fact, over the last 2 months, I have had coffee with at least three ladies that have come into my life for different reasons and areas. They were all lovely people and for each one, I initiated getting together over coffee to chat, catch up, yadda, yadda. Well, although I think quite fondly of each of these ladies. With a few of them, it didn't take long to realize that our first coffee date may be the only one we would have. This didn't cross my mind because they disturbed me or I found out they were part of some horrendous lifestyle-- I simply could tell we were just two very different women with very distinct views on life. Although our interests may have seemed superficially compatible, our chat proved otherwise. As I came to the end of each friend date and swallowed the last of my Americanos, I found myself thinking, "This must be how dating feels sometimes...". On a few occasions, a gentle hug was exchanged and I found myself saying, "This was great! We should do this again sometime. Call me or text me when you're free and ever want to get together again".
That was it. That was my break-up line for female friend dates. I guess I did have a little Carrie in me after all. Sigh. She thinks, "First you find a man and you think it's going to work out, but then...you find out he does this weird thing with his teeth when he chews and he doesn't like dogs". I think, "First you find a girl and you think you're going to be great friends, but then you find out she doesn't really share anything in common besides your hair color".
I know this is an exaggerated and much more humorous example, but the experience reminds me of Rachel with her blind date from "Friends".
Truth be told, when you're not originally from the location you're living in, your life circumstances put you in a place with minimal genuine friends (I'm absolutely not saying this is a bad thing), and you're a busy professional...where is the right place or time to gain some fantastic friends?
One of my good friends and I discuss this matter from time to time. In fact, we joke about picking up new friends at the gym. Whenever you hear people giving advice to others about meeting people and getting involved with the community, they always encourage them to mingle about in public areas and facilities. However, let's be real. Do we ever really talk to people we don't know at the gym? Besides maybe becoming familiar with someone if you attend a class here and there, it doesn't really happen. My friend and I say that we're always so focused on our own workouts that we don't really stop to talk to other women. If we did, what would it look or sound like? Would we have to drop a "friend pick-up line"?
"Hey. Your abs look great, you must come here a lot."
"Oh, hot leggings! I tried those on, but they look so much better on your butt than mine."
"Yuck! My protein powder taste like poop. Yours looks great, what flavor is it? Can I have some"
"HEY! OVER HERE! I SAVED YOU A TREADMILL!!"
Not impressed? Yea, that's because those are a little weird. Good job not falling for them.
Alright, what about other places. Coffeehouses? Target? Micheal's? Honestly, although I am open to carry out and continue a conversation with kind strangers, most people don't spend enough time in that moment for them to realize that who they are speaking with may just be the friend of their dreams. Also, I know I am not alone when I say that I am usually on the go and simply mind my own business. Some people get really weirded out and feel uncomfortable, if you seem overly friendly and chatty with them, too.
Church? Yes, I go there every Sunday and I even am involved with the women's ministry. However, again, there are more wonderful ladies who are older than me rather than in my peer group. They're amazing, but not the category of friends I am talking about here.
Where did Carrie go to meet her men? Well, on second thought, I know the answer and scoping out gal pals in bars and late night parties is really not the path I want to travel on.
My husband and I joke about how there should be a Match.com for people to find friends. They may be something similar to this actually out there-- but honestly, I am still skeptical of using the internet to get together with strangers (that's just my personal preference). What would my profile say beyond what is already listed on my blog or personal Facebook account? I don't even know if Carrie Bradshaw made it to online dating for her search.
So. Here I am. Still casually attempting to make closer ties with women who are amazing that I may share deep connections with. I am not at all saying that I am lonesome without a large network of friends. I am a firm believer that one should have a few quality and true friends over tons of casual comrades. I love the dearest and nearest in my life now as they are amazing individuals that are truly uplifting. At this point in my life, I value keeping only these kinds of inspiring people close to me as friends. I am content, happy, filled with joy, and delightfully living out my days without an ounce of sadness because I feel there is a lack of friends in arms reach-- I already have amazing women in my life. All I am saying is that, making new friends sure does feel like a dating scene at times. I am not really sure where I am on that market, but I am keeping my mind and heart open with a strong sense of judgement. I think it's really one of the best ways to attain new and good friendships.
Maybe it's just like finding true love-- don't stress so much about it and the right person will come along. I just hope she's another person who I can share my cupcakes, and maybe even devotionals, with.