This is a story about friendship and life’s quirky twists. I’ve had many conversations with various friends over the years about the challenges of making new friends in adulthood. Friends from high school and college continue to be good friends yet some move away or life and children take over. You may see each other every week for a month and then not again for the next three months. Expanding your social circle is a bit like dating…where do you find someone within a similar age, who lives close to you, with similar interests, with whom you connect…work, book club, a beach volleyball league? I believe that in continuing to meet new, different people, eventually you will find more of those you can call your “peeps.” It all starts with “hello.” That brings me to my story for today.
Last spring, I attended a women’s networking event. Everyone goes around the table, introduces themselves, tells about their business, and then expresses a “need” or a way in which the other women can help them. It fosters women in business supporting each other. This gorgeous, thirties age woman named Susie (I’ve changed her name in case she is embarrassed by this story 😉 ) with an accent went before me. She explained that she and her boyfriend were from Australia, had been in Chicago for a few years for work, recently decided to remain here, and that she was looking to make new friends, as it is a challenge moving to a place where you know no one.
Let me take a side note here. In college, I studied abroad for a summer in Australia. We spent a month in Sydney and then traveled the country studying ecology in the outback, the mountains, the rainforest, the reef. For my final group project, we created the “sea slug dating game” but I digress, that is another story. It was a key developmental time for me and I fell in love with the country. The diversity and beauty of the landscape. The laid back, “no worries mate” nature of the people, and it’s pretty awesome that they are descendents of convicts (just in case you do not already know, Australia was founded as a penal colony under British rule). The Aussies know how to have a good time.
Back to the networking event. When it was my turn, I gave my work spiel and then told Susie that I had studied abroad in Australia, love everything Australian, live in a neighborhood close to hers, and that I’d be her friend if she’d like. Thankfully, she found my declaration only slightly creepy and her boyfriend was supportive when she told him about the encounter, noting only that it’s a good way to meet someone.
Several weeks later, Susie and I went for dinner and drinks. The drink special that night was a picture of sangria. We agreed to go for the pitcher rather than just a glass, even though it was mid-work week, which pointed to the possibility of kindred spirits. We talked about work, life, dating, Australia (of course!), travel and at the bottom of that pitcher of sangria, we found friendship.
This past weekend, I was invited to share in the wedding of Susie and her now husband. I was touched by the invitation. Over the past year, a lovely friendship has blossomed and I know will continue. The couple had over 40 people who came from Australia to the wedding. I was in accent heaven. And have I mentioned, the Aussies know how to have a good time. We’ll leave it at that.
So, the next time you are at an event or a party and you seem to connect with someone, go out for drinks or whatever you prefer, and you might just find a new friend.