When Will and I first moved to DC, we went through a little period of a few months where we didn’t make a ton of effort to get out and make new friends. I think it was because we were newlyweds living together for the first time, and honestly we were totally content to just hang out together all the time. Luckily we also already had some wonderful friends from Georgetown and Vanderbilt in town to make our new city feel like home (and they still do!), but I remember at one point saying, “Hey, we need to make an effort to make some good new friends here and really invest in them.” It had dawned on me that people weren’t just going to show up on a silver platter like they had before, and it was the first time in my life I felt like I needed to be really intentional about reaching out and building community.
Our outfits are both old Lilly, but stay tuned for my current Lilly picks for pregnancy!
So I set out for the first time to make an effort to cultivate some quality friendships, this time as half of a married couple to boot. I think it has something to do with the fact that we move around after college a lot more than our parents did, but making new friends in adulthood can be hard, y’all! Then you throw in the couple factor, and it can get even trickier.Here’s the most important thing: it’s always worth the effort. Those baby friendships sometimes require some patience, but if you put the time and effort in, they can eventually turn into your people. I’m happy to say that we have some of the most wonderful friends in DC I’ve known. (That includes the ones we already knew from law school when we got here. Sorry, we cheated a little, but those friendships have definitely grown too.) It took time, risk, and even a few awkward situations, but friendships grow over time if you just keep watering them.Take Ryan and Erin for one of our best examples of investing in people even if it’s a little awkward at first. As an avid Southern Weddings reader with a particular penchant for their Southern Newlywed column, I saw Ryan, Erin and sweet Sully’s newlywed home tour feature and noticed that they lived less than ten minutes away from us and were also new to the area! A little perusing of Erin’s blog led me to her email address and an invitation to these complete strangers to our housewarming party. Well, it turns out they weren’t complete strangers after all, because they so bravely and graciously showed up to our apartment only to realize that Will and Ryan played on the same middle school football team! (Will’s mom totally remembered Ryan and his mom.) Well, you know how this story ends. Now they’re obviously some of our very favorite people. Not only did Erin help me get my blog off the ground, but now she’s a great mama mentor for me too. We miss them now that they’re in Charleston, but we stay in touch often and love having a reason to visit!
Here are Some Tips for Cultivating Friendships in Adulthood:
- Put yourself out there with some follow-through. This is actually the hardest part! It involves risk, and no one really loves that. It’s not too hard to strike up a conversation, but the really tricky part is turning that conversation into hanging out again. Sometimes you just have to ask people for their numbers and ask some new friends out. This leads me to…
- Embrace awkward. You know what? Awkwardness is part of the process here. Just because it feels weird to get email addresses and numbers and set up friend dates doesn’t mean it won’t turn into a really great, easy friendship. I just had to start flexing this muscle, and most of the time other people are really excited to make new friends too.
- Try to find other people who are new. The one benefit to DC’s transiency is that a lot of our friends here were new to the city at the same time we were, which makes it way easier. These people are also looking to build community at the same time that you are. Seek them out!
- Organize group gatherings. I met some great gals on our church retreat when we were brand new to the church and DC. So I thought, “will I ever see these ladies again if I don’t put forth the effort?” So with the support of my friend Hayley, we decided to ask for email addresses and set up a girls’ night when we got home! Now we have a periodic rotating supper club, and they are some of the loveliest women I know. Sometimes group things can be easier in the beginning.
- Be patient and keep investing in people. Real talk time: I don’t know too many friendships that were love at first sight. Most of the time there’s a point where you wonder if it’s worth it and whether you’ll ever feel really comfortable with these new people like you do with your college and hometown friends. But if you just keep being patient and investing the time, you usually wake up one day and realize you’re over that hump!
I got most of these tips from Cultivate What Matters, and there is a lot more where these came from! Cultivate What Matters provides incredible resources to help you live your most intentional life and prioritize what really matters to you. They have a whole workbook on growing fruitful friendships you really need to pick up! (Also, their intentional goal planners, Powersheets, are on sale for $25 through tomorrow! This is a six-month undated set that is perfect for tackling the second half of 2017.)
It turns out it’s not just a movie set: there’s actual traffic on Rainbow Row, y’all!
Last but not least, if you live in the Charleston area and want to be Erin’s bestie too (lucky you!), she’s hosting a book club on Lara Casey’s new book coming out June 27th, Cultivate! Find out more here and preorder the book here! (There are preorder bonuses!)
All photos in this post are by Jennifer Collins Photography.