As we have slowly moved through this medical training, I have found that making friends has become increasingly complicated. While preparing this post I have been reflecting on my friendship efforts over the last two PGY years. Below I have listed how residency has complicated finding friends and what approaches have had success.
– Mothering– I stay home with our two cute kids. Their needs are the priority for my schedule. My adults interactions are often limited to parents of my children’s friends.
– Conflicting call schedules with co-resident families– Should be easy to be awesome friends with a co-resident family. But in actuality their DrH is home opposite of your husband.
– Finding people to understand our sacrifice for the DrH’s training– This topic could be a blog post by itself. I have had abrasive conversations with people that misunderstand or have no empathy towards how difficult and lonely this crazy path is.
- Like attracts like. If you want to find other people who are looking for friends, you have to be open to meeting them. Practice striking up conversations with people you know but are not close with. Talk about things you have in common, like your kids, and then move the conversation to a more personal place and talk about yourself. Ask questions to discover what you have in common and see if there’s a mutual need/interest in forming a friendship. You don’t want to be a reporter and only ask questions. Take the risk to reveal things about yourself; after all, real intimacy is a give and take.
- You’re most likely to find friends in social settings that are interesting to you. While you may enjoy working the booth at your kid’s soccer game, it’s not the same as going to an event where people are discussing issues you love. Try www.meetup.com to find local ideas, and if you don’t find one you like, consider creating your own. You might be surprised to find out how many people are interested in the same book you’re reading or your favorite hobby.
- You get out of life what you put into it, and friendships are no different. Once you find people you are interested in, try reaching out a few times. People can be shy, distracted and may mistake your overture as simple kindness. Also, you never know when someone’s having a bad day. By reaching out a second or third time, you may find they’re more interested in connecting and that they appreciate your efforts to get to know them.
- Consider alternative resources like Facebook and Twitter. I know this may sound a little counterintuitive because we’re talking about face-to-face friendships, but social sites are excellent places to practice. I’ve met several people on Twitter with whom I’d be tied at the hip if we lived in the same city. As it is, we’ll settle for being virtual soul sisters.
- Revive friendships that may have been placed on the back burner. Scroll through your e-mail, Facebook or even your high school yearbook to find people you’ve lost touch with. With the invention of social media, most of us have found our long-lost sixth-grade buddies by now. Once you connect, take the extra step to invite them out for coffee/lunch. You can also host a play date and invite their kids to come along. Often kids can act as the easy topic of conversation to help you connect and explore rekindling your friendship