Being one of five kids, I have always been lucky to have at least four other people that have to be my friends—no matter what.
Us Dinkis are…loud, affectionate, passionate, caring, creative, not creative at all, and above all else—loving people who look out for one another.
But somehow I have found myself in my forever home with no family around (OMG, writing that just made me tear up).
It just happened.
People moved here and there, we moved over there, and suddenly everyone is everywhere.
When I was younger, I never thought I would care or maybe even want all my family nearby, but now with children—and as my friends have also moved all over—I regret that somehow we are not all closer.
Phone calls are great, and something we could all do more of, but very sadly these are people that won’t be just popping over, or meeting up to grab a random drink on a Wednesday night.
And that’s hard.
I moved away from my hometown to New York City when I was 18, with zero friends and zero family.
It was a time to meet people.
I was lucky that for the next 10 years I worked in the bar business. I ran a bar for most of the time, and conveniently hired people that were not only good bartenders, but people who I knew would be partners in crime for many an adventure in the Big City.
All these people that I worked with became my friends, my NYC family, and the people that I still depend on.
They are the people that understand me to my core and made New York City home for me.
But then, they all went their own ways—to Portland, Asheville, Seattle…
One by one, I had to say goodbye to them all.
And there were tears, a lot of tears…
OMG, I’m crying again (just took the photo below to prove it!)!
The last five years have been hard, with a lot of changes, and a lot of people leaving.
It happened slowly, but in the last couple of years, I realized I was unsatisfied with my personal life. I wanted to be doing more, laughing more, adventuring more, but I had fewer and fewer people to call, and it didn’t feel like anyone was calling me.
Then we moved, had twins, and it really felt like starting over.
I’m lucky that I have kids, and thus an easy connection to meet people at school and classes.
After we moved, I immediately started to scope people out in each of these places. In fact, the three friends I’ve made out here in the last year have all been other moms of kids at my oldest daughter’s school.
I spotted the first mom-friend at orientation; she sat on the floor and I liked that—she seemed real and easy going. The second mom was someone I stalked at drop-off for a while; she always had a smile that felt genuine and engaging. And the third had great high energy and seemed up for anything.
I was drawn to these three ladies almost immediately, but it took awhile to find the right time to ask for a number, mention a playdate, or make anything happen. There were lots of casual “hi”’s as we waited for the kiddos to come out of school at the end of the day. Then some “how was your weekend” talk and whatnot.
And finally, I had to just put myself out there and say, “Hey, we should get together.”
I’d like to point out that in all these situations, I did not feel confident, I did not feel like these people for sure wanted to carve out time in their lives to hang out with me.
But, I just went for it and said it. If you want to meet new people, nine times out of 10, you are going to have to be the one to ask, to approach, to make it happen.
And you know what?
It was all in my head. They did want to hang out and they were excited to make plans.
It’s easy to come at it from the point of view that “if they wanted to hang out with me, they would ask me.” But the truth is, people are likely afraid that you don’t want to. Or they are feeling overwhelmed with work and kids, or maybe just aren’t focused on relationships.
But just because they aren’t as “in the market” for new friends, doesn’t mean they don’t have space for one.
After a play date or two, I proposed other outings: Sesame Street Live! in the city, fall festivals—and yes, even some stuff sans kids (can you say “cocktails?!”)!
It’s a sloooooow process, but you can get there.
A big thing is figuring out when your new friend is generally available. Some people want play dates at 8 a.m. and for others, drinks after work are best.
I’m up for anything, so I have often sent out texts with a variety of options for the week; then the other person can tell me what is best for them.
Once you figure that out, there is a little bit of a routine. For instance, you might know that your new friend is generally available from 2 until 6 p.m. during the week, and then you can be more casual and ask them last-minute to come by.
Along with making some new local friends, I have also really been trying to be a better friend to both new friends and old, as well as dedicating real time to my social life.
Coordinating a hike and picnic with a group of friends can be exhausting (wrangling everyone’s schedules!), but it’s worth it.
And I realized that if I wanted more adventures, I needed to create them.
The people that you see on social media who are always out and about aren’t just fielding invitations to all of those amazing things they’re doing. They are planning them.
It takes effort and time, but the payoff is real—those moments of laughter, adventure, and connection are what it’s all about.
I put so much time into my work and my family, and now I am committed to putting the same amount of time into creating the fun in our lives. This is new for me, it’s hard, sometimes it even feels like a waste of time.
But I want a different social life, I want more fun, and I’m going to create it.
As far as being a better friend, recently I took time to leave a bag of candy and a card on a sick friend’s doorstop. I also randomly texted my new friends to ask one how a pregnancy was going and another how a vacation had been.
These are small things, but I wanted to show those friends that I cared and that they were on my mind. For some reason, in the past I would think of doing these things, but I wouldn’t actually take the time to do them.
I’m done with that. I used to feel like I needed to accomplish something work-wise to feel productive or as though I’d had a good day.
But guess what?
That BBQ, that game night, that festival, that smile from a friend—these things all also make me feel accomplished and happy—and they’re fun! So why have I not been dedicating more of my time to those things?
I don’t know, but I’m over it.
I saw the post above in a local Facebook group and thought it was awesome. The woman who wrote it just put it out there, and a ton of people responded, some just saying “hi” and some with real invites to connect.
Why can’t we all be more open about where we are socially, and where we want to be?
Here’s what I want to say:
I’d like to connect more, I’m up for anything, and I’m just going to put it out there.
When Damaris and I first started talking about getting Bluebird and Blackberries up and running, I was excited. I feed off her creativity, I wanted to work with her and connect with her more, and I wanted to make this vision come to life.
We want to share, be honest, and create a place where we can talk about things that maybe we aren’t always sharing—and where we can support each other through those things.
Bluebird and Blackberries has allowed me to deepen my friendships with Damaris, Becca, and Terra. It has allowed me to reconnect with my high school friend, Tami (pictured above—she’s our behind-the-scenes girl).
And most importantly, it’s given me a safe space to share, to advise, and—best of all—to listen.
So thank you all for being my friends. I value you like you wouldn’t believe. ♥