Remember that time in high school when you were navigating all these weird friendships? Like, “Did she just ignore me in the hall?” or “Will he keep my secret?” Does all of that drama ever really end? Just this past weekend, I was at a party, and I walked up to a group of girls that stopped their conversation as soon as I stepped into their circle. Talk about awkward.
Turns out most of us have a few weird friendships.
Friends that rely on us more than we can rely on them. Friends that ignore us when the cooler kids come around the corner. Friends that change when they get into a relationship. Friends that want introductions but won't give them. Friends that make us feel *bad* every time we see them.
But there’s always that one friend or two (or five, if you're lucky) that are just naturally wonderful, right? They’re puzzle pieces that, no matter their wear and tear over the years, fit perfectly into our lives. They’re the ones we can call at 4am or in 4 years, and things will be just as good.
So, I'm wondering...
How do we make more of those? Because me wants...
The Great Discontent is a magazine I read religiously because of its candid interviews of people from all walks of life that make a living in the arts—people who create. No matter who’s being interviewed—a designer or writer or filmmaker—there is one line that always seems to come up:
"It sounds like it’s important to you to be a part of a creative community of people."
There is nothing I want more than this, to have a creative community to call home. The problem is, where do I start?
It’s weird, you know? I’ve been asked to speak twice in the past two weeks, at an event for social entrepreneurs and at a university class. Over the years, I’ve met a ton of people in all kinds of industries, on Twitter, Instagram, or in person. But still. STILL. I lack this unicorn, this safe haven of artistry so many people describe.
There’s a quote I love, it says:
“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”
— Og Mandino
That’s how I see it. I’m enduring a lack of community, in a small society of cold shoulders and snide remarks. And I see the stars in my life, I do: my family and closest friends. But I'm *enduring* this. I want the light.
Do you feel the same way?
Luckily, there's a way out...
A new option: mastermind groups
Have you ever heard of mastermind groups? In brief, mastermind groups are meetings of groups of 2+ people who help each other succeed by helping each other and giving advice.
Well, a few years ago, I was part of a mastermind group that lasted maybe four months. We didn't have many meetings (sadly), but the meetings we did have were insightful. Truth be told, each meeting felt like a huge deep breath, like a weight was lifted off my shoulders because:
- I wasn't alone in the obstacles I was facing.
- I could rely on the group's experiences and insights.
- Most of all, they too were dedicated to working on projects they love!
It wasn't just me battling scary contracts and cash flow. In a way, we stood together as a group. The point was to build each other up and cover weak spots with our collective knowledge. In doing so, we inspired each other to keep going.
Sadly, the group fizzled. After that, I went through the next two years of my business alone, navigating rough waters that probably didn't need to be that choppy. I could've used the group's help to make it to safe waters faster, with less trauma. It could've been easier, but I was alone.
I miss the camaraderie, the support, and the learning—getting it and giving it.
I don't want to be alone anymore. Do you?
A plan for new friends
So many times, I've sat with "friends" for lunch or dinner and talked for hours about things I could care less about: who's dating who, the new series on Netflix, how much work sucks. (I'm not guilt-free, of course, but I try!) And it feels like every time I try to bring up a topic I care about, I get blank stares. Very rarely will someone want to talk about what book they're reading, an idea they've been obsessing over, or what difficulty they're facing at work.
I'm tired of petty talk. I want the real stuff.
In the mastermind group I was a part of, it was all real stuff. There was some fun random talk, of course (mostly thanks to Johnny!), but it all led back to the "meat" of life: relationships, creativity, faith, nature, etc.
On top of that, mastermind groups help skip the awkwardness of making new friends. It's assumed that you *choose* to be there, and you *share* your group's values. This will save you the headache of having to hide your *true self*, which is invaluable.
I'm ready to join a new mastermind group. If you're ready to join one, too, here's a few steps we can all follow together:
- Decide what area of your life you'd like to improve.
This could be broad or very specific. In my case, I'd like to focus on my "career", or the projects I'm working on. This doesn't particularly have to mean money-making projects. More like, projects that help me express myself.
- Reach out to potential members.
This week, I'm reaching out to a few people I'd love to have join me in a group. I admire them, value their insights, and know I could learn much from their different skill sets.
- Decide the format.
Will you create a weekly or monthly group? Will you meet online or in person? How will each meeting be structured? In my case, I'd love for a weekly online check-in with my group, and I hope to find others who have that availability.
These are just a starting point. No matter what steps you take, the most important part is being committed.
I, for one, am committed.
Because when I read The Great Discontent's interviews, I yearn for the feeling of community that they describe.
Because when I sit at a table talking about the Kardashian's latest antics, I yearn to talk about ideas instead.
Because when I feel awkward in a group of people, I yearn to feel surrounded by people who truly want me there.
Because when I feel uncertain and confused, I yearn to learn from my friends' experiences, big wins, and mistakes.
It's like a "grown up" version of a playdate. I can't wait to make new friends. :-)