You’ve probably heard the saying, “It takes a village…” While most of us are familiar with this saying because of Hilary Clinton’s use of it in the 1990s, it actually originates from an African proverb, it takes a village to raise a child. I love this saying, and I think it applies much more broadly than it was first intended — it take a village to do a lot of things! As humans, we thrive when we feel connected to others who understand and can support us… when we have our very own village of friends and loved ones we can go to for company, a listening ear, and just feeling like we’re part of something in this great big and sometimes lonely world.
When we’re young, finding a village is easy. You meet people all the time with whom you have a ton in common – classmates, members of sports teams, etc. I have been lucky to be a part of many fantastic villages over the years, and they changed as I passed through various phases of life. During my years in grad school, I felt closely connected to so many other young therapists-in-training and young professionals. I met some of my best friends during those years. But things changed as we all “grew up” and moved into the next phase of our lives. In the last several years, three of my closest friends moved away, and another one is leaving later this year. My village was shrinking fast. This all happened while I was getting married, moving to a new community several counties away, and starting a family. All wonderful things, to be sure; but also things that made me acutely feel the need for a nearby, accessible village. But it just didn’t happen as naturally as it used to. Making friends as an adult just isn’t as easy as making friends as a kid.
I’ve had to work a little harder to find my new village, but find it I did! And you can, too. No matter what phase of life you’re in, I can guarantee that there are others like you just waiting to form a village with you. Here are some tips for finding them:
Get outside. Walk around your neighborhood, go to the local park, and shop in your town’s markets instead of hitting the grocery store that’s on the way home from work. It’s easy to fall into patterns with regard to where you go and when, but if you do that, you’re likely to move through life just focused on what you’re doing instead of noticing who you might meet and start a friendship with. If you go somewhere new and push yourself to strike up a conversation with somebody there, you’re very likely to find someone you might click with.
Use the internet. Social networking sites are just teeming with opportunities to meet people. Meetup.com, MeetForCoffee.com, and even Facebook all allow you to connect with others who have similar interests and live nearby. I found a great group of local moms through Facebook, and we’ve started getting together weekly for playdates — all of our babies were born within six months of each other, and they’ve been a great source of support and fun!
Volunteer. Have a passion? Find a way to put it to good use by volunteering for a cause you believe in. You’re sure to meet other people who share your passion, and maybe a new village will emerge. volunteermatch.org is a great place to start!
What other ideas do you have for finding your village? Tell us your suggestions in a comment, and thanks for reading!