I am in love with the idea of close girlfriends. Movies, books, and TV shows make it seem so fun and easy. But in my life, it’s not that easy. It’s actually really hard to have good, close girlfriends. Because I’m introverted. Because I’m lazy. Because I’m over-scheduled. Because I like books better than most people.
For me, it has always been simple to have friends but not close ones. But the older I get, the more I realize I don’t want to live like that. Even if seeking people out and making friendships a priority isn’t in my nature. We’re not supposed to do life alone and isolated.
So how do we start? How do we even begin to ask others for community and friendship?
There are lots of little ways to make friendship and community a larger part of your life. For me, one way that is still–years later–my absolute favorite is my First Thursday girls. I’ve shared stories of them before and had people comment or email that they wished they had friends like that. So I want you to stop wishing and start having. Here’s how:
-Gather a group of about 6-10 women. I know that seems like a lot, but trust me, 6-10 is good. No bigger though. Spice things up a little by including people that aren’t exactly like you. Maybe invite three friends and tell them to bring a friend each. You don’t have to know everyone in the beginning. Our group, while having the common background of attending high school together, weren’t all best friends. And as adults we’re not all that similar: some of us are married and some of us aren’t, some have kids and some don’t, some are religious and some aren’t, some are democrats and some are republicans. We have enough in common to get along, but we don’t all agree so our conversations help to sharpen each other and allow us to grow together.
-Decide a monthly meeting time and stick with it. My friends and I meet on the first Thursday of every month. I have a writing group that meets on the second Sunday of the month. Pick a time and then get it on the calendar for the rest of the year. No, seriously, write it down and make it a priority.
-Don’t make excuses, just go. There are some times that one or two girls can’t make it. Whether it’s work or family obligations, we might get together with a girl or two missing some months. But the rest of us show up because we can. Try not to miss, make it priority, but know that with 6-10 of you, there will always be enough for a good time. Don’t be the girl that punks out all the time, that’s not the way to make real friends.
-Agree on a meeting place. Are you going out to dinner once a month? Meeting at Starbucks? Gathering at someone’s house? All three? Don’t leave your first hangout without knowing where the next one will be. My friends and I normally meet at someone’s house and we just rotate around.
-Establish a rhythm. This takes time, obviously, and it will be different for each group. Like I said, we normally meet at someone’s house, but every January we go out for Mexican food. After hectic December has passed, we all just want to get out of the house, eat food we didn’t make, and relax. Once it warms up, we try to get out once in the summer to some fun bars downtown. In November we do a Friendsgiving. December is our favorite things gift exchange. For a while we just got together to hang out, but now a few years in, we like to mix it up a bit.
-Be intentional between meetings. Don’t let this be the only time you talk with your group. Set up a Facebook group so you can connect during the week. Remember their birthdays and send cards. Check in when someone is sick or struggling. Invite the group to birthday parties, cookouts, and funerals. (I know that’s an odd combo, but what I mean is doing life together means celebrating and mourning together, so don’t just do the happy stuff because that’s not real.) The little things are hard for me to remember in my day-to-day plans. I can easily get wrapped up in my life and forget that I want to be in community with others. Write down reminders, add things to a to-do list, do whatever you need to do to be intentional with this group of ladies. Put in the work if you want to go deeper with friends.
-Ignore everything I’ve said and do it however you want. I saved the best piece of advice for last. I don’t really have any groundbreaking ideas for belonging to a close-knit group of friends. Mostly I think it just happen organically, but that’s not what keeps it going. There is beauty in a group of friends that lasts–so find that group and get started. Because it will always be worth the time and effort.