Creating Space for New Friends in Adulthood
Elizabeth Kendig, founder of Healers, Quilt guest, and woman behind the wildly successful Pinterest page Healers (BeautyBets), knows what it means to start over. Here, she shares tips of what she’s learned along the way. Want to meet and hang with women like Elizabeth? Join us for a Quilt chat!
It’s no secret — it’s tough to make friends in adulthood. If you’re lucky, you’ll have at least a couple of coworkers or colleagues who you consider friends, yet for those among us who work in the brave new world of individualized hustle (or whose colleagues are tiny humans with unenviable conversation skills), the option of a casual after-work hang is more elusive. Elizabeth Kendig, founder of Healers and woman behind the wildly successful Pinterest page BeautyBets is no stranger to meeting strangers. She’s twice moved across the country — in the past two years.
“Going into a new city as an adult is a whole different ballgame,” she says. Learning how to navigate this is key. “We don’t stay in the same place the way our parents’ generation did,” says Elizabeth, so the challenge of having to create or find community is one that a significant number of us will face. There are several reasons for this; technology that enables us to work remotely or relocate without changing jobs is one of them. While this mobility may be responsible for pulling us apart, physically, from our social structure, it also enables us to hold on to it from a distance.
Different Kinds of Friends
Elizabeth grew up in Minneapolis, and continued to live there on and off for 40 years. She considers herself fortunate to have strong friendships that she’s been able to cultivate and nurture over the past several decades. “My best friends are going to be my best friends for life,” she says, “no amount of distance is ever going to change that.”
The takeaway here? Your social group isn’t defined by how many people you see regularly on Friday night. You may not be in the same physical space as your closest friends for a full year — but that doesn’t change your degree of closeness. You can hold onto these right relationships as you continue to explore new acquaintances, says Elizabeth. “Sometimes it’s not as much about making friends because you take your friends with you wherever you go,” she says. “It’s more about having that in-person connection.”
Ideas to Cultivate Relationships
Number one piece of advice? Say yes.
“In new places,” says Elizabeth, “you just have to really make a concerted effort. I say ‘yes’ to every invitation.” Another good piece of advice Elizabeth has is to begin thinking about the ways you made friends in the past, or consider what it is that you enjoy to do with your circle, and then recreate it!
“My book club was really like a friend group for me at home,” says Elizabeth. Upon moving to San Francisco, Elizabeth “got herself invited” to a book club right away. Look for organizations you can join; consider starting a club. Identify activities that you enjoy, and build a community around those shared interests.
Pre-built communities, like Quilt, are other great ways to find your people, says Elizabeth. She attended a Quilt House Party in San Francisco shortly after moving there, and found that, like other women-focused communities she’s a member of, such as The Wing, it was a space she felt she could be vulnerable and authentic.
For Elizabeth, these kinds of communities lower the barrier to entry when it comes to stepping outside your comfort zone and forging new friendships. Particularly when it comes to Quilt, it’s all but guaranteed that folks you meet will be open to at least a conversation — that’s the name of the game, after all.
The Value of Authentic Connection
Elizabeth’s Pinterest page, with more than 5-million followers, is a great marketing tool, she says, but as Pinterest is one of the more “impersonal” social platforms, it’s not necessarily driving large numbers of authentic communication between Elizabeth and her followers. When she started Healers, the aim was to create the opposite kind of community.
She started the collective (and subsequent podcast) after a personal exploration of healing modalities helped shape a healthy worldview, and wanted to give back. One thing Elizabeth has seen in Healers is the flourishing of authentic, vulnerable communication, and this is mirrored in her approach to the Healers podcast. Listeners wade into friend territory when Elizabeth shares something vulnerable on air, and listeners respond to her personally to share their similar experiences.
“My biggest asset, I think,” says Elizabeth, “is leading with vulnerability. I value friendship because of the total vulnerability with another person.”
Ready to explore the kind of vulnerability that leads to significant relationships? Join us for a Quilt chat!