In the weeks leading up to the Radiance Retreat 2015 I was filled with excited anxiety. I didn’t know anyone that was going, I was rooming with a woman I’d never met and I looked up to many of the attendees so the celebrity factor was pretty high. In the first few hours my anxieties were quieted with the abundance of sisterhood. The weekend was quite spectacular and I left with a significant Radiance Hangover.
A huge part of the Radiance Retreat and the sisterhood mentioned above is the freedom I feel in being myself. I know this is an intentional push from Jen Sinkler, Neghar Fonooni, and Jill Coleman when each of them presents herself to the world. It rubs off on all of the attendees. It’s truly brought me out of my shell and the feeling of comfort in my own body and mind is a tenant of their message. Those can sounds super scary, right? But, after a little bit of coaxing I found that it’s worth all the energy you can put towards it.
Over the course of this past year I’ve continued to keep in touch with a few of the ladies that I met and was able to join them at The Women’s Fitness Summit last summer. So, in re-attending the Radiance Retreat I was more excited than anxious to not only meet new women, but build upon these friendships that started a little over a year ago.
Friendships can be hard – especially as an adult. People always say this. They say this, though, because it’s true. The significant changes of adolescence have long gone and we’re well on our way, if not already there, to being adults and experiencing that in our individual ways. We’re not in each other’s daily lives and that can slow relationships as it’s challenging to get the facetime required in getting to know one another. That’s another reason why weekends like the Radiance Retreat are special – they gift us moments of intense connection.
BUT HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?
As succinctly as possible:
Friendships are formed by creating intimacy between people. Intimacy is created by growing trust through shared experiences and in the sharing of personal stories. Sharing personal stories is vulnerable and exposes deep feelings. Different people respond differently when met with vulnerability. The people we’re talking about respond with openness and create space for you (i.e. they let you experience you without judgement).
This process can make you feel like you’re a fileted fish with your guts hanging out. I know.
Sure, you can talk to a therapist, and I encourage it, actually. But, you’re paying that person to not judge or take advantage of your stories. Friendships are special because another woman is willing to do that for you without any strings attached – and, you know you’d do the same for her. This is exactly what happened to me last weekend.
Here’s how I see it:
- Find some people who are similar to you.** Call this your tribe.
- Engage with them.
- Come as your true self, as much as you can. Be open and non-judgmental.
- Magic happens. (ß If there’s no magic, go back to step 1.)
- Repeat steps 2-5 as much as possible; practice is growth.
**This can totally be people you meet online through groups that share your same values. We live in that kind of world now. Be safe though!
New friends add, not subtract
For a few years I didn’t know how to meet people and make friends. It seemed like a futile effort to be quite honest. I also felt that if I made new friends, my existing friends would suddenly disappear. Yes, that can happen and in some situations is a good thing as we grow in different directions. Overall though, that hasn’t been my experience. In fact, in the process of giving myself permission to be me along with finding my tribe, I’ve strengthened many of my existing friendships.
While this process isn’t always easy, it’s worth it if you’re looking for connection. This is also a choice you have to make – a choice to be vulnerable and open with the understanding that not everyone will rise to the occasion and meet you where you are. But, there will be people who stand up and accept you. You’ll build trust as you explore each other’s lives. And, by this point, you’re well on your way to friendship.