One of the hardest parts of my breakup last fall was the fact that many of my connections in Chicago were mutual friends with my ex. While my ex and I are on good terms (I’m pug sitting for him while he’s on a trip for a week) and harbor no ill will towards each other, I came to the hard realization that the bulk of my connections in the city were his friends from college, and it was a tough time to get through a breakup with few people to grab a beer with on a Friday night.
For the last 3 years of the relationship, my social life was on the backburner. I was working non-stop. I got promoted twice at my job as a social media manager (yay!) and any free time on weekends was spent working on my photography skills, writing for the blog or just playing catchup on laundry and house chores. Usually, Friday night would roll around and catch me off guard. If nobody had invited us out, it was just easier to work.
Fast forward to the person I am now- single, living in a new neighborhood and not saving or planning for a 200+ person wedding 2,000 miles away. Through the breakup, I learned it was vital to work on activities that would fill me up, not just wear me down. For years, I wasn’t afforded the luxury of leisure time- but then, my creativity and hustle started to suffer. Now I am realizing that my reserves aren’t endless- I absolutely MUST schedule in time to be active, to be social and to rest.
This month, I’m going to focus on the social aspect of this equation. Another Friday evening seemed to catch me off guard- did I have plans? Nope, but my friends did, or they were out of town. I do not want to be that girl who calls the same 5 people to see what they’re doing at the last minute “hey, you want to grab a drink?” at 5:40pm on a Friday. Increasingly, my friends (myself included) are booked up in advance, they have partners, some have business trips or kids that mean that impromptu visits to the bar are less and less frequent.
Being a social media manager and blogger, I have friends all over the country and even, the world. I can ping or email at any time to get connected- but I started to realize that having more friends locally and planning things regularly (not as an afterthought when the long workweek ends) is crucial to my happiness. All work and no play make Shannyn a crazy girl.
Originally, I was trying out eHarmony to meet new people…meaning guys, and I started to realize that wasn’t really a solution. Yes, dating is fun, and meeting in new restaurants with guys from a variety of backgrounds and neighborhoods is great- but I hated eHarmony (read that story here) and really didn’t like using the website. Additionally, if you decide a guy would be an amazing friend, but not a potential boyfriend or husband, they typically aren’t too keen on being put in the friend zone. Navigating the spectrum of expectations was tiresome at times…so not really my ideal pool to meet people from, as fun as it was.
I’m looking at joining Junior League Chicago– which I went to a prospective member meeting last fall, but I felt it wasn’t a good time to commit with wedding planning, since the heavy 6 month membership season would be during crunch time for my wedding. About a month later, I was calling off the engagement and now, my life looks much different. It’s time to revisit this.
I’ve also circled back with Meetup.com. I used to use Meetup.com back in the day to socialize my pugs back in southern California. I joined groups since then, but never had the motivation to go. I’ve found now that since my time is limited, I need to find just a few that really stir my curiousity and interest and focus on just a few really impactful groups.
Many folks attend Meetups with good intentions, then never go back…or they join way too many groups and don’t focus on building substantial relationships with regular attendance. Like with a church group or a running group, you get what you put in. I have to be committed to building relationships, otherwise it’s just a casual thing. So far, I’ve attended a few dog related meetup groups, but hope to attend some for women entrepreneurs, local businesses or 20-30 somethings.
The dog meetup groups have been really fun. Usually people bring food & drink for the people, and some even bring homemade dog treats for the pups, it’s really fun. I feel that I’ve missed out on a big opportunity previously by not taking advantage of the huge amount of diverse meetup groups in Chicago, you can seriously find something for everyone. They even have co-ed naked yoga…but I think I’ll pass.
So, I ask you- as you’ve gotten older and your friends have coupled up, settled down or simply had insane work schedules..or maybe you’ve moved, how did you find new friends in your location?
I’m going to keep y’all posted on how Meetup.com goes, and I need ideas on how to meet people on my wavelength….so far, I’ve met some amazing pug owners, but I haven’t build networks enough to do things outside the meetup events. Thoughts?
You, by the way, are awesome.