Friday, April 6, 2012

Make New Friends but Keep the Old!

(If you were, at any point in time, a Girl Scout I bet you just sang 'One is silver and the other's gold' either outloud or to yourself. I know I did! Let's do it in rounds girls!!!)

Okay, now that we're past that... have you ever thought about HOW you make friends? I hadn't, it's always come pretty naturally to me. I think I'm pretty laid back and get along with most people so making friends has never been an issue. Let's look at major life changes in the Timeline of Mary where making new friends was necessary:

Kindergarten (1985): Making friends at this age is pretty natural. You borrow a red crayon or share your cookies and voila.

Move (1990): This one was a bit tougher. Luckily it was only 5th grade and that's generally before girls get catty. At least it was back then. I have a feeling, with the way the world is now, that might start in Kindergarten these days... You hang out on the playground, maybe play some foursquare (the game with the red ball, not the Ap) and make friends in your subdivision by riding bikes and playing freeze tag.

High School (1993): Living in St. Louis and going to Catholic grade school it was a natural choice for me to go to a all girls Catholic high school. In fact, I never thought twice about NOT going to one. So unlike my friends in public junior highs who would travel on to high school with the same group of friends, there were only two of us from my grade school that went to Nerinx. I remember meeting several girls at uniform fitting and when we had to buy our books- actually, that may have been the same day- but until those first days of school it's few and far between. Still, it's school and you find out who has the same interests as you through many channels- your classes, sports, extracurricular activities, mixers, etc.

College (1997): Who doesn't make friends in college? There's thousands of teenagers living on their own with newfound freedom! Making friends is natural- be it in the dorms, during rush, in class or at bars- there's a common ground that everyone is standing on.

Move to Chicago/First Job (2001): I moved with my best friend who I met in high school and lived with 3 of our 4 years at Mizzou plus another one of our friends. We knew a handful of people in Chicago including some family. This was an adventure! My first job was with Hyatt and I made some of my closest friends to date there. 3 of them were bridesmaids in my wedding! One came to visit me on St. Thomas THREE times all the way from San Diego. I'm Facebook friends with, I think, nearly all the people that were in the Sales Office during my two years there. I talk to quite a few of them on a regular basis. And the ones I don't talk to quite as often? I can pick up the phone or run into them and we fall right back into conversation like we just talked two weeks ago. Those friends made in the office also because the core group of friends I hung out with after work, on weekends, etc.

Move to St. Thomas (2009): We were lucky enough to have our friend Billy C. give us the names of his good friends before we moved and they quickly turned into some of our best friends. I honestly don't know what we would have done without Kate or Potter when we got there! Both of them took us under their wings and showed us the ropes which included me getting a job and making a circle of girlfriends that are second to none. I thank my lucky stars that we had the opportunity to experience what we did on the rock and I'll never forget the friendships I made there.

What do every one of those situations have in common? I was in a situation where meeting people was not only easy, it was unavoidable. It's not so much about making friends but having the opportunity to meet them. That brings us to where we are now- having just moved to Iowa. So what's the difference you ask? We're not in a situation where we are thrown in naturally to seeing people on a daily basis. For starters, neither Tim nor I go into an office on a daily basis. Tim has a great team (with great families) but it's always different when you spend 8 hours a day in an office with someone. We know about 3 people here and it's been challenging trying to get together with them- schedules, time, etc. just haven't meshed. Plus, you never want to feel like you're intruding on people's lives. Ironically, one of these people is a girl I worked with back at Hyatt in Chicago! Second, I have a lot of travel coming up with my freelancing. I'm gone end of April/early May, late May through mid-June and end of July/early August. Boo.

So this means we have to make a concerted effort to meet people so we can make friends! How? Well, this is what I've come up with so far:

The Gym: Everyone said joining a gym will help make friends and I get it. It's camaraderie, especially in classes. However, so far, I've found that while people are friendly at the gym and talk before/after classes this doesn't necessarily translate into hanging out outside the gym.

Young Professionals Connection: We joined this group last week and went to the New Member gathering the same day. Seems promising- people around our age who are professionals and active in the community. They have a ton of events planned and plenty of opportunities to get involved. It is whatever you want to make it. I'm looking forward to this one!

Meetup Groups: This one is new to me. I had never heard of Meet Ups before and I can't quite remember how I found them but they are basically groups of people that share common interests. There's one for singles, one for knitters, several for moms. There's one for JUST about everything it seems. The one that intrigued me was the Couples Meeting Couples. We've met several couples here that seem like a blast to hang out with- we have yet to meet one without kids. It is quite obvious that, here in Iowa, we are WAY behind in this area. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we don't want to hang out with our friends with kids but I can't just call them up on a whim and expect them to be able to hang out that night. So as long as this Couples Meeting Couples doesn't have a freaky deaky side to it we will be checking them out soon.

Sports: It sounds like the YPC will coincide with this one. Unfortunately we got here too late for the indoor wiffleball season but YPC does soccer, volleyball, dodgeball, softball- just about anything you'd want to play! I'm looking forward to it!

Church: I know this one will take a good lot of you by surprise but it's true. It's certainly not a matter of whether or not you are a practicing Christian here but what kind. It's happened quite a bit and I'm okay with it. People ask if you're Catholic and tell you that you need to go to St. Francis. I'm anxious to check it out!

Bike Clubs: Biking is HUGE in Iowa. Trails (really nice paved trails) connect soooo much. Tim's boss is part of a group that bikes to a bar every Wednesday. They also bike to a Farmer's Market every weekend. You can bike from our new house all the way downtown without setting foot (wheel?) in traffic- awesome! My bike will be here Wednesday and we just have to purchase a new one for Tim. We kind of forgot it was stolen out of our garage in Chicago before we moved...

All in all we have a lot of options and I'm excited to explore Des Moines (did I mention there are 15 wineries with an hour!?!?) and all it has to offer. Of course, I'm always up for suggestions! And visitors from my 'old' friends :)

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