PODCAST SHOW NOTES
Do you have a lot of friends? I expect like most women you'll probably have different friends who you do different things with. Friends that you've met at different times in your life, and in different situations. Friendships are made in many different ways, aren't they?
We've got our school friends, and I'm still friends with many of those, but I know that's not the case for everybody. Then we have our college friends and our university friends. It's effortless to make friends during this time. There's also the social aspect because we're always in bars and nightclubs, and we're feeling confident because we're under the influence of alcohol.
Everybody has the same goal in mind, we want to go out and have a good time, and we're all the same age so we can make a lot of friends during that period in our life.
When we get older we make friends at work. I don't know if you've ever worked in an awful workplace, I have multiple times, and there's always a specific bonding experience that takes place? You're in it together just to get through the day and get through the week. I've made some fantastic friends at work over the years in those kinds of situations.
If you don't have children, what I'm going to say next isn't really going to apply to you. Still, I hope you'll continue listening because the rest of the podcast isn't about that.
The next stage for making friends is when you have children, you're a new mum, and you go to playgroups and toddler groups. You meet all the new mums, and when they start school, you'll meet a lot of other new mums there as well. This period of your life can last quite a few years. Everything is involved around the school because there are always social activities on and you'll get involved in the mum groups which become kind of like mum teams. You've got a lot in common because your children are the same age and they might even play together. So this is another period of solid female bonding.
So what happens that when you're not involved with any of the things that I've mentioned? What if none of those things applies to you? Or they don't apply to you anymore? How does this affect us?
Of course, we still have our old friends, our friends from school or college, but life situations change, and friendships change. Sometimes it's us that changes, we evolve as a person, or our friends change and those friendships don't necessarily stand the test of time. We can go through periods of thinking - I'm not sure really if this friendship is suited to me anymore? We might make a decision to not continue, this is healthy. I don't believe that people necessarily should be friends for life.
It can be upsetting but it's also making space for other things. Sometimes the dynamics from our younger friendships can be tricky. Behaviours that you might have accepted in the past, you might not want to take anymore. It's hard to change the dynamics because that's the way the friendship has always been.
Those are some of the friendships that haven't stood the test of time for me. I still think of those friends very, very dearly, we're just not in each other's lives anymore.
Another reason our friendships change is when our habits change. Our friendships might revolve around a certain thing, and when we decide we don't want to do that thing anymore, we realise the association was only based around that.
For example, I used to have a problem with alcohol and I decided I didn't want to drink anymore. Back then my life was focused around drinking and socialising in bars and pubs. Nights out and even meals out would always include a lot of alcohol. I didn't want to do that anymore, so inevitably, my friendship groups changed.
Hannah no mates
When I got to my mid to late thirties, I was utterly flummoxed by the fact that I didn't have many friends. I still had my old friends, but I had my daughter when I was young, and as is the trend now, women have children in their 30s and late thirties. They couldn't go for a walk or come for a coffee or go to the cinema or do anything really as they were at home looking after babies. I found myself in a situation where I didn't really have many women that I could ask to do any of those things. It was quite a difficult time, but although it was difficult, it was good for me in other ways. There was a lot of personal development work that I needed to do, and we can only do that work on our own.
There was space to reflect on some of the choices I'd made, and look towards my future. But I can't deny looking back to tat period and feeling that it was somewhat empty.
A double whammy was around the same time I started to work freelance. So did I not meet anyone at work, I was working from home, as I do now, so I don't see anybody on the way to the office or going out for lunch because I don't go to an office.
Freelancing is really isolating, although it offers massive freedom and huge benefits in other ways.
Let's get onto how we can make these friends
Unfortunately, we're not going to meet these friends sat on the sofa binge-watching the Handmaid's Tale - sadly.
First of all, we have to start seeking out opportunities where we might meet people who we have things in common with. So we need to start looking around in our local community. Looking at notice boards and if we're on social media, we need to follow pages that we're interested in. We can see what events are on and see what possible opportunities are out there.
If this seems daunting, if you don't fancy going to an event on your own, I can understand. At first, when I was looking around and wanting to do different things, I didn't feel confident doing certain things on my own either.
But remember there are plenty of other single women out there looking for friends, we're all in the same boat. If you're not confident enough to go to a big event, then you could try something much smaller initially.
The first thing I'd like to recommend is a yoga or fitness class of some sort. Particularly the yoga class, there's going to be women that are free at the same time as you, you know this because you're in a yoga class with them, they have the same interests as you ie. yoga, and in quite a lot of the local classes, there's an opportunity to have a chat afterwards.
A lot of women are very up for that, and that's part of the experience for them. For example, just this last week I went to a yoga class in a chapel on the hills above where I live. There were about 10 women there, and I'd only met one of them before. Afterwards, we all sat down and had some healthy food and coffees in the cafe, everyone was open and friendly, and everybody was there on their own. This is the kind of effortless interaction that we can get from going to something like a yoga class. And obviously, if you go every week, you'll get to know everybody more. Then social things will come up that you will get invited to or you can have a social event and invite people to it.
If you've never done yoga before, I can understand that it might feel daunting to go to a yoga class or even a fitness class. I used to dread anything like that because I was so self-conscious and I'm really uncoordinated. I didn't know anything about yoga, so I was always anxious that I wouldn't be wearing the right clothes or doing the right thing. What I can tell you is that nobody is interested. Any class you go to you're a paying customer, and you are welcome to wear whatever you want and do what you want, and you don't have to be self-conscious in any way. Remember the other women who will be there are probably going to be in the same situation as you, or similar. I'm not necessarily saying they're all going to be single. Still, they're going to be women that like yoga, that likes the community of yoga and are perhaps interested in a friendship.
So go on, have a look now on your local gym or yoga centre, have a look at what's available, have a look at what time you could go and market in the diary. There's something about marking something in the diary that really commits us to doing it.
You might think this is a bit surprising as I often talk about being mindful. Facebook groups and Instagram are actually an excellent way to make new friends. I've genuinely made a handful of female friends through Instagram just from having shared interest following the same accounts. Somebody might get in touch with you about something that you've written, or you might get in touch with them.
A couple of the women that I've made friends with, I've been friends with them a couple of years now, and these are really lovely friendships. So that's the first way.
The other way is with Facebook groups. A few years ago, I was very against getting myself more involved in Facebook in any way. But since then, I've discovered quite a few groups that I'm active in where there are other women that have similar interests to me and I have made friendships within those groups.
This is a really good resource for making new friends. It's something that I've done, I have made friends with women, and indeed I even met one of them while I was in Vietnam.
Doing something that you are really going to enjoy doing or some kind of hobby. Maybe you're not sure what you might enjoy doing? My advice for that would be to remember what you liked to do as a child, our desires remain the same, It's just that we forget about them when life gets in the way. And I think it's important to point out that we don't have to be really good, are really talented at a hobby for us to enjoy. Yet we don't have to take it to the next professional level. We can just do something because we get pleasure from it. For example, I write poetry. I'd never publish that poetry anywhere or show it to anybody because I'm not interested in doing that. It's just something that I really enjoy doing.
So if you have something that you enjoy doing and like painting or drawing or pottery, you could see if there's a group nearby? I'm sure there'll be something. And you could get involved in that.
Groups or hobbies where there's a physical activity involved, such as painting or drawing, are easier to navigate if you don't want to spend a lot of time talking. If you're not that confident, I wouldn't recommend at this stage going to a reading group as you'll be expected to talk about a book.
How about a walking group where there's physical activity? So you've got the focus of walking, but you can chat with people if you choose to. It's a more comfortable option.
Community groups and community action.
When we get older, we're more interested in how we can give back a bit more to our community. Our 20s and thirties are focused on our careers and families and what we can get and what we can achieve, and we want to make foundations for our life.
But when we get to our age, I enjoy thinking about how I can give back something. So again, have a look what's going on in your area. And again, choose something that suited to you. If there's a youth project that wants volunteers, but you're not interested in that, then obviously don't do that.
I went to a brilliant community day organised in Sheffield by a group of teachers that had quit their jobs because of the stress, and they'd started a mindfulness garden for women. They invited other women, anybody to just go up and help them. We had such a beautiful day, and it was a group of women like myself who are interested in gardening, who are bothered about the community and who are also into mindfulness and meditation. It was probably one of the best days that I've had this year it was so good.
Events like that are available everywhere. We just need to look for them.
Start your own group.
If you look around for something and you can't see anything that's available that you might be interested in, one thing that you could think about doing is starting in your own group.
When I was in Vietnam, I really wanted to connect with other writers, so I posted on a message board with a shout out. A lot of people responded. I didn't set the group up, another journalist did, and we started meeting regularly to talk about work stuff, but also meeting socially as well. It was a wonderful group of women, and it was just a really great thing to be part of. And of course, I'm not in Vietnam anymore. Still, that experience that I had within that group, while I was there, was absolutely brilliant. When I knew was meeting those women at the weekend, I'd be really excited. This kind of thing is going to take a bit of confidence to do. I was in Vietnam, and I really wanted to meet new people and meet new writers, because I was there entirely on my own and it gave me the push to do that.
Revisit your old friendships.
When we're busy with work and perhaps bringing up children, some friendships go by the wayside. I've reconnected with two of my old friends, one that I first went to university with 22 years ago and another who I used to work with 20 years ago. Both of these women are in my life again. You'd be surprised what people have been up to and just how interest in everything is. I've got as much in common with these women as I had back then, if not more so, and it's fantastic.
That's always an option to go back and look and put yourself out there, ask them if they want to catch up. We have to get used to putting ourselves out there and get over this fear of rejection. Even if somebody can't meet us because they're busy, there's no harm in asking.
I had a friend of mine say - 'oh, you must meet Kate'. And that friend also said to Kate 'oh you must meet Hannah'. Because we were both feminists, which is hilarious, really when you think about it. I think most of my friends are feminists but don't know they are. Anyway, we were introduced about four years ago now, and we've been thick as thieves ever since. This is a very enriching friendship for me, and that came from a mutual introduction.
Can you listen out if one of your friends is talking about something interesting that another of their friend doing, and ask them to give you an introduction?
This is my favourite, and this is going to get you the most friends, but it is the scariest, and it's not an easy thing to do. Go travelling on your own. You will meet hundreds of people, you're not going to want to be friends with a lot of them, but there will be people, both women are men, who you'll have a powerful connection with. They're going to be your friends, possibly even your friends for life. I've got a group of women that I'm friends with from that period and I know we're going to be friends for a long time.
The great thing about solo travelling is that we're pushed to make an effort to speak to people. We're also going to be in situations where we'll meet other single travellers, and we're going to be in the same position. There's a bonding that takes place, which is brilliant. Solo travel is the most empowering, incredible and fantastic experience that anybody can have. If you have done it, you'll know what I'm talking about.
So let's wrap up
First of all, there's no shame in wanting more friends, there really isn't. Why is there any shame in that?
Second of all, we've got to put ourselves out there. We've got to be proactive.
Thirdly and this is really important, do not let age be a barrier. I've got female friends in their fifties and sixties and in their twenties and thirties. Age differences make for exciting friendships as we can always learn from other generations.
When we go through this new period of space in our lives, and then we make new friends, it's actually brilliant because the friends that we're making now are the friends that we choose to make.
We're friends because we like them and because we've got things in common, so this is just an excellent basis for friendship.
I hope I've inspired you in some way to be proactive in getting some more friends if you need to. That's all for this week. So thank you as always, if you're still here. Thank you so much for listening.
Hello friends. I am Hannah Anstee, Women's Coach & Mentor. I warmly welcome you to The Future of 40, a space for independent, open-minded women who are looking for more. Namaste