As a certified Navy brat, I’ve done my fair share of being the new kid on the block. So it you’re finding it tough, here are a few hints:
1. I’ll tell you from experience that it becomes more difficult to find things geared to older adults (although this can vary depending on where you live). But beer cruises, bar hops, house parties, baby showers, beginning wine tasting classes (and in LA, fitness classes with body builders and budding actresses, yoga with naked pool parties, and beach volleyball) tend to be geared to people in their 20’s and 30’s. So get creative! Brainstorm and put together a list of possibilities. The meetup photography group, cooking classes at the local restaurant, NIA and other dance classes, religious and spiritual groups, networking groups, etc. Once you have your list, take on the challenge to work your way through the list while you look for that golden nugget in a treasure map. It’s there! Hint number ONE: get creative in figuring out where you can make connections.
2. In LA, I found it was tough. Very tough. I’d go to events and classes and, invariably, I’d think “Why am I the only person over 40 in here? There must be other people in my age range that want to do things?!” Lots of things might contribute to this, such as too much traffic and so many people that it’s easy to feel lonely. But, somewhere there ARE other people like you that want to connect. Here’s a great example: When Dale Pollekoff found it difficult making friends after she moved from Washington, D.C. to LA, she started a meetup group “Finding Female Friends past Fifty”. As of today the group has 1,370 members!!! That’s a LOT of women that probably felt like I did. So hint TWO: keep searching … they’re out there somewhere.
3. A recent New York Times article, "Finding Female Friends Over 50 Can Be Hard. These Women Figured It Out," points out “studies have concluded that friendships are vital to a person’s well-being, and this is especially true for older women.” If you’re having a hard time finding friends, you might decide that it’s not really that important, that you can manage on your own. But having friends IS very important in avoiding loneliness and depression. That’s why HINT number THREE is: don’t fall into the trap of giving up and not finding friends.
4. A couple of times I’ve worked at places or lived in places where I didn’t “belong”. A wonderful book called “Women Who Run With The Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes relates this to the Ugly Duckling story. In the end, the duckling wasn’t ugly at all; he was a beautiful swan that had simply been in the “wrong pond”. In those kinds of situations, it’s amazing how our self-talk can convince us that there is something wrong with ourselves. Hint number FOUR: Before you beat yourself up, consider that you might be in the wrong pond. If you are, start taking baby steps to change your situation and start searching for YOUR pond.
5. Lastly, remember that people come and go; circumstances change; people change. When we first moved to Tucson, we met a couple that we instantly loved and we vowed to be friends forever. And just as instantly they disappeared … without even a word to us. When “life” happens, it can take a while to adjust and replace. So, try to not put yourself in that position. A circle of friends that you can trust will prove golden over time. And if one of your circle falls through, you’ll have the rest of the circle to rely on. Hint FIVE: Keep building your circle of friends. Like the old song, “make new friends, but keep the old.”