One of my new improv students recently shared with me that sometimes he feels alone because a lot of people his age don’t get him. He asked me if I ever feel this way and to his surprise I responded, “Of course!” Why? Oh so many reasons such as …
- I love, love, love improv and yet I’m not interested in doing scripted theatre.
- I left a big city and moved to a small beach community.
- I travel regularly, but want nothing to do with mass tourism.
- I used to have 22 cats and 2 dogs because of ten years working in animal welfare.
- Although I’m good at small talk, I prefer deep conversations.
And while none of this is bad, it merely makes it more challenging to find the right people to click with IRL (in real life as opposed to online). Plus, it’s so much easier to get comfortable with Netflix than to do the work that grown up relationships require.
Think about college … or even high school. The people who shared your activities were your besties — and they were constantly around. As a grown up, it’s rare to walk down the hall in your pajamas and be able to connect to a best friend. This is why so many of us love summer camps for grown ups. Not only can we leave our responsibilities behind, but we can also connect to the person in the next bunk while getting in touch with what made us excited as kids.
And, have you noticed how time consuming adulting can be? By the time we’ve taken care of work, home and the always running “to do” list, there’s not a lot of energy left for events and people that just might not be our thing or our people. However, your tribe members aren’t going to ring your doorbell and announce themselves as being “here.” (Well maybe they will if you live in a really cool neighborhood!) Usually the work is on us to find, cultivate and nurture those people and places that make us feel like a better version of ourselves.
So how do we find, cultivate and nurture?
Find – Say “YES!” to invitations, to classes, to events, to people who offer to connect you with friends of friends. You never know what one small thing will lead to and where the next bestie will pop up. My best friend in Denver was an improv teacher and performer when I was an improv student. Several improvisers were having drinks after classes one night and I mentioned to her that I was madly in love with Bon Jovi and literally that was all it took for us to be connected forever. Since then we’ve traveled to South Africa together, we’ve worn matching cat pajamas in the Colorado mountains, and, we’ve ended up as temporary roommates when one of my relationships went sour. If you love something, shout it from the rooftops, so someone like you can hear and celebrate this thing with you.
Cultivate – Get people together who might not otherwise share space and start “me too-ing!” Those magic words, “Me too!” mean so much. The more we hear those words, the more we’re able to cultivate connections. Then we can start sharing time and activities with the people who thrive in similar situations. I have friends who I like to go to summer concerts with and others I like to go to art shows with and still others who make great city exploring buddies. And this is one of the benefits of cultivation … you have the opportunity to explore who fills what need and vice versa.
Nurture – I’m not going to lie … this is the hardest part for me. Why? Because I always want to buzz around doing activities. Nurturing means holding space, listening, checking in, sending a card or a little gift, talking for no reason other than because this person means something to you. For me, the best way to nurture is by breaking bread. One of my most favorite things to do is to have a long, slow dinner where the time is spent focusing on the person and enjoying the food and wine. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to do this in Toronto with my friend Jan Keck who I had met at the World Domination Summit last year. Although we were working on a project together, the meal wasn’t about the project it was about two people connecting. And isn’t that what we all want — deeper connections?
Jan is the creator of Ask Deep Questions – a cooperative card game that enables players to create meaningful connections via thoughtful questions. He and I both host an event called, Campfire Conversations, where strangers meet around a campfire to connect authentically and deeply. Look for upcoming Campfire Conversations in Toronto and St. Augustine. And, if you’re interested in either of us facilitating Campfire Conversations in your city or town, please reach out. We love creating spaces where vulnerability can thrive.
Looking forward to asking more deep questions in 2019!