Last Friday I put a call out for topic requests given that my normal groove has shifted to all baby, all the time right now. My day-to-day looks much different since I’m not working or working out so I thought it would be a great time to tackle some topics that you guys want to hear about or that I’ve had on the “to blog about” list for a long time!
I received some great suggestions and the one I’m going to cover today really touched my heart and was something I knew I wanted to write about. Here’s the request…
“For future blog post topics, I’d actually love to have a post about prioritizing close friendships (and more about how you met Dorie, how you work on your relationships with your friends, navigate misunderstandings, etc). As a 30 year old woman who’s childless and in a (very) long distance relationship, my friendships with my girls are SO important, but it also requires a lot of balancing of schedules, etc.”
In today’s post I’m going to introduce you to some of my closest friends and weave in both background on how we met as well as what I’ve learned through their friendship.
I will be the first to admit that I’m not the best at relationships, especially when it comes to female friendships. It’s something I have had to work VERY hard on and finally feel that I’ve found my groove with in my mid-thirties. And now that I have, I can’t imagine my life without them.
My whole life I’ve always been the type of person who has a small circle of close friends versus being a part of large friend groups. To this day, I’m envious of people who still get together with big groups of high school and college friends. That was just never how I was wired but I try to find a lot of gratitude for the friendships that I have now. They are very different and very grounded.
Friendships shifted for me when I discovered yoga and went through yoga teacher training. On the first day of yoga teacher training seven years ago, my (now) friend Lina came up to me and said, “Jennifer, we are going to be friends.” She followed this up by always putting her mat next to mine, asking me to lunch on breaks during training and reaching out to make plans outside of yoga. Seven years later, despite having an ocean between us, we are still very close friends.
Lina taught me that sometimes adult friendships take a certain amount of directness that I’m not typically comfortable with. It’s almost like dating where you have to ask someone else out! I am the WORST about being the first to text or call to initiate plans…whether it be with a potential new friend or friends I’ve had for a long time. That is something that I’ve had to work REALLY hard on changing. I will almost always wait for someone else to initiate plans, even when I really want to hang out with them and spend time with them.
I have changed this behavior while still keeping it in my comfort zone by frequently reaching out and saying something like, “I’d love to see you this week. What works with your schedule? Run date? Coffee? Dinner? Maybe just catch up on the phone? I’m flexible. Let me know!”
I’ve had to re-train myself to believe that my friends want to spend time with me and that the dynamic has to work both ways of initiating contact and spending time together. I’ve also had to re-train myself to believe that work and being busy can wait and that nurturing friendships is an important part of my mental health. That has been a hugely important lesson to learn.
I met Dorie shortly after I started teaching at the studio. Dorie has been working for Y2 pretty much since it opened (she’s the longest tenured teacher) and took me under her wing during a period of my life where I was going through a lot of change, transition and growth. She will tell you to this day that she “made me be her friend.” I’m so glad that she did. Her friendship has been the biggest blessing in my life and I’m grateful for it every single day.
Dorie has taught me so much about how to open my heart and how to hold space for others to do the same. The friendship that we share is unconditional and I’ve learned lessons in being real and forgiveness through our friendship. Dorie has always seen right through my surface-level “I’m fines” and tendency to hold others at arm’s distance. She challenges me to open up in the times where my instinct is to close. Through that opening up I have discovered a level of not only friendship but also acceptance that was previously unexperienced for me.
Our friendship has shown me that friends can be family. I don’t have family here in Charlotte but Dorie has openly welcomed me into hers – whether that’s family dinners, beach trips or holidays. We’ve vacationed together, spent Thanksgiving and Christmas Day together and shared countless catch up sessions around her kitchen table or mine. She recently wrote me a card that said, “Ohana, family, comes in all shapes and sizes, and I am part of yours and baby boys. I will always be there for all of you, regardless of the shape.”
Dorie is a beautiful person, inside and out, and inspires me daily to fully show up in this world and to be a better person, better mother and better friend.
I’ve cultivated deep relationships with my friends Virginia and Jen through running. I’ve always found running to be a great “friend date” if the other person is also a runner. There’s something about running together that seems to open the gates of sharing honestly and openly.
If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you’ve seen Virginia make appearances for years. The unique thing about our friendship is that it started when Virginia was in high school! She was the youngest person to do our yoga teacher training and went through it as a junior in high school. After that I mentored her for a while but that transitioned into a beautiful friendship that has shown me that age is just a number. This girl is wise beyond her years and we’ve both had so much to teach each other about life and friendship.
I love Virginia because her brain functions so differently than mine. She’s very black and white, matter of fact and science-based. I’m pretty much polar opposite. I feel like we show each other different ways to look at things…both in the external world and within ourselves.
She’s also extremely giving and thoughtful. On this particular day she offered to run Zoey to give her some exercise when I was busy with work. She also came over after Finn was born to walk the girls and has dog sat for me so many times. Oh and she does amazing things like Postmate me half a dozen cupcakes from my favorite bakery! 🙂
Jen is one of the best people that I know. Once again, we met through yoga but our friendship flourished through running. She’s as real as they come and the biggest lesson she has taught me in friendship is accountability. I’ll never forget when we first started running together a few years ago and she told me, “you’re just hard to pin down sometimes” when I was attempting to bail on/reschedule another run.
You know how it’s kind of an epidemic these days to make plans and then cancel them? Well, Jen opened my eyes to showing up for my friends and not being a flake. And let me tell you…those runs that I ultimately showed up for when I wanted to bail were some of the runs that I got the most out of.
Jen has four kids (under the age of 6!) at home and I admire her so much for her ability to show up and be accountable to her friends while also being an incredible, hands-on mom. She has shared so much wisdom with me about everything from motherhood to family issues to relationship with self and more. She’s also the freaking best at picking up the phone and checking in even if she can’t always make in-person work.
I deeply value what each of these women have brought into my life. I think it’s important to recognize that female friendships don’t come easy for everyone and that they require a lot of work to develop, nurture and maintain but I’ve come to learn that the work is WORTH IT. I have never felt as supported and seen in my life as I have through the friendships I have made in my late 20s/early 30s with other women.
To summarize, here are some of my top tips for prioritizing female friendships, navigating misunderstandings and balancing schedules.
- Make spending time together and staying in touch a priority. Don’t let yourself get so wrapped up in the busyness of work, love or family that you let your friendships fall by the wayside. I know it’s a crazy balancing act but you’ll be so glad that you made the time for it.
- If you can’t see each other often, text and call! Dorie and I exchange a good morning text nearly every morning. We just have a general check in and let the other know we are thinking of them. We also send each other quotes/readings through Instagram when we see something that we know would be relevant to the other. Pick up the phone and chat! This is SO much more productive than texting when you have a lot to share!
- BE DIRECT. CLEAR THE AIR. FORGIVE! It’s inevitable that sometimes friendships will experience times of misunderstanding or struggle. The first step is to be direct about whatever is happening. OWN UP to your part in the situation. Don’t dance around it. Communicate and clear the air. And then forgive and move on! Remember, close relationships (whether love, friend or family) require a whole lot of humility and a whole lot of forgiveness.
- Don’t make assumptions. Along the same lines of be direct, don’t make assumptions…about anything…it will drive you crazy. How many times have you nearly sabotaged a friendship because you made an assumption about something like, “she didn’t respond to my text so she must be mad at me” or “she cancelled our last three get togethers, she must not want to hang out with me anymore.” This kind of thinking is SO damaging in relationships. Communicate directly and openly with your friends, even if it’s uncomfortable sometimes. You’ll usually learn that it had nothing to do with you and everything to do with something going on in their life. And then you might get an opportunity to support them through something!
- It goes both ways. This is so important on a few levels. Make sure that you both initiate plans and communication. Also, when you’re hanging out or interacting, make sure that the conversation flows both ways. Friendships aren’t very fulfilling when they seem one-sided. Don’t always talk about what’s going on with you but ask meaningful questions about your friend’s lives as well.
- Make it fun and natural. You might have some friends who you love to share a meal or a glass of wine with and some friends who you love to run or walk with. Find ways of spending time together that feel fun and natural for both of you. It will help you open up and relax into the friendship so much more!
- Be accountable. As much as humanly possible, SHOW UP! Don’t bail on plans at the last minute, don’t reschedule a million times, do what you say you’re going to do. I know it can be tough in today’s busy world and especially if you tend to be introverted but this accountability will build so much strength and trust between you.
Like all relationships, adult female friendships take work but I’ve come to learn that the work is worth it x1,000,000.
I’d love to hear about your experience with adult female friendships. How did you meet your adult female friends? What have you learned from the relationships? How do you nurture the friendships? Where do you struggle?
I’m open to your blog topic suggestions! Keep them coming. 🙂