As many people in their 50s have discovered, making friends as an adult is difficult. Without the social bonds that connect us to others as parents, many of us feel isolated — or even a little lonely.
The truth is that it is possible to have an active social life at any age — but, first, we need to accept the fact that making friends after 50 is an active process. We can no longer afford to wait for other people to come to us. We need to take action.
This is the main reason that I decided to build Boomerly. I wanted to create a place where older adults could go to meet like-minded people. Along the way, I had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of people about their experiences making friends as an adult. Through these conversations, I learned that the people who succeed in building meaningful friendships as an adult are the ones that follow these four steps.
Step 1: Start by Getting to Know Yourself
When you ask people how to make friends as an adult, they usually give you suggestions like, “just get out there,” “join a dance class,” or, “try speed dating.” On the surface, these are fine suggestions. After all, making friends does require us to get out into the world and take a few emotional risks.
Most of the time, however, we are not lacking for ideas on where to meet people. We are missing the motivation, confidence and self-esteem to get started. For this reason, most people find that reconnecting with themselves is a prerequisite to reconnecting with others.
Think back over the last five decades. Have you spent most of your life looking after other people? Have you left your own passions on the back-burner? Have you let your physical appearance go as you focused on raising your family? Do you feel a bit emotionally bruised by the disappointments that you have faced over the years? Do you have regrets that are holding you back?
Dealing with these issues won’t happen overnight. Be gentle with yourself. If you don’t feel like “getting out there” right away, don’t force yourself. Instead, identify the issues that you can control in your life and focus on those.
Step 2: Develop Your Physical and Emotional Resources
If you feel tired, out of shape, or sad, most of the time, making friends is going to be extremely difficult. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple things that you can do to increase your physical and emotional resources.
Most people don’t realize just how disconnected from their bodies they have become until it is too late. Fitness after 50 is not about looking a certain way for other people. It is about having the energy and confidence to explore the world and make friends on your own terms.
Start small. Use the 1-minute technique to gradually increase your commitment to exercise. Get out into nature. Set a timer to remind yourself to get up every hour to stretch. Try gentle yoga.
Then, as your confidence and stamina improve, increase your level of commitment. Join a local gym or see if your community center has fitness equipment that you can use. Find a sport that you love. Whatever you do, do something.
While you build up your body, don’t forget to nourish your mind. Write down one thing every day that you are grateful for. Spend a few minutes every day in meditation or prayer. Learn to become your own best friend.
Step 3: Chase Your Passions, Not People
When people tell you to “get out there and make friends,” they are telling you to chase people. There are several problems with this approach. First, it puts other people on a pedestal. They are the prize to be won. Second, chasing other people simply doesn’t work. By this point in our lives, we know that the best way to push someone away is to follow them.
The alternative is to approach relationship building from a position of strength. Instead of chasing people, we need to chase our passions. This is the only way to meet people on an equal footing.
What have you always been passionate about? Are there any activities, sports, hobbies or skills that you sacrificed to give your family more attention? What fascinates you? What are you curious about? What gets you excited? These are the questions that you need to answer to make friends after 50.
Step 4: Be Proactive and Invite People Into Your Life
By the time you reach this step, you will be in great shape. You will have a better understanding of who you are and the kinds of people you want to attract. Perhaps most importantly, you will have recommitted yourself to exploring your passions and getting the most from life after 50. Now it’s time to invite people into your life.
As you explore the world, you will meet hundreds of people who share your interests. Don’t settle for acquaintances. Look for opportunities to bring people deeper into your life. Organize movie nights. Invite small groups over to your house for cocktails. Propose hiking trips. The specifics aren’t important. Just don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. They usually won’t.
Making friends as an adult is possible, but, it requires a new approach. Instead of relying on our social circumstances to bring people into our lives, we need to take the initiative. We need to learn to understand ourselves. We must build our confidence. We need to pursue our passions, not people. Then, when the time comes, we need to reach out and invite people into our lives.
What do you think are the secrets to making friends as an adult? Do you agree that the first step to improving our relationships with others is to learn to understand ourselves? Why or why not? Please join the conversation and “like” and share this article to keep the discussion going.
“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” –Gwendolyn Brooks
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” –Audre Lorde
I know a few things about depression. After Thanksgiving, I checked myself into the hospital because repression was no longer enough. There was limited access to anyone beyond the narrow hallway, art and dining room in the hospital’s psychiatric unit, so I wrote and read often. What sustained me were the words I remembered from poems, like Lucille Clifton’s “won’t you celebrate with me,” Rickey Laurentiis’ “You Are Not Christ,” and Audre Lorde’s “A Litany for Survival.”
When I got tired of walking up and down the hall reciting those poems to myself, I would re-read the African American Women and Depression Fact Sheet. What stays with me is that only 12% of Black women ever get help or treatment for their depression. Economic access, of course, plays a huge role in that, but how many of us never stop to acknowledge that we are hurting? How many of us actually can afford to stop at all to feel anything?
Audre Lorde tells us that we were never meant to survive, but to speak anyhow. I spoke with 11 queer and trans Black women artists, creators, and activists about their specific practices of self-care. May their insight be useful to you and their art inspire you to continue to dream, build, imagine, love, cry, laugh, dance, and live.
Location: Richmond, VA
Title: Web Developer
Where to find her: Tumblr
“Being the introvert that I am, I spend a lot of time alone. Taking time to myself allows me to recharge while doing the things I enjoy most. I respect my own limits and know when it’s necessary to step back, which often requires saying, ‘no.’ Surrounding myself with good, positive people is essential as well as minimizing my exposure to negativity. I practice mindfulness, live simply, and just always remember to breathe.”
Location: Syracuse, New York
Title: Scholar, Feminist, Student
Where to find her: SoundCloud
“I practice self-love by creating with the intent to be present and non-judgemental. I create with the intent to honor Black (queer) ancestors and honor my own creativity. To honor my creativity, I let myself create whatever it is I may want to in the moment, whether that’s a beat from a sampled record, painting, collaging or writing. I also move and breathe. I love to walk and practice yoga. Self-care is also about community. I enjoy being in community celebrating life, talking shit (or just being) with other Black queer people.”
“Self-care to me is about hanging stuff up until I’m absolutely ready to carry the burden again. If that means ignoring phone calls, texts messages, emails, and even resting as opposed to studying for that exam, then I will do so.
Sometimes, no matter what the circumstance, you need to just clear your mind and at least pretend you’re all good and can’t a thing hold you down or stand in your way. Pretend that you have all the time in the world and allow your body and mind to reset before you pick back up where you left off.”
4. Stasia Mehschel
“The first step for me was self-love. I love my body, my mind, and my spirit. I want to preserve it in the finest and most luxurious ways that I can within my means. I take vitamins. I make sure to work hard and play equally as hard. I try my best to keep bad energy and vibes away, ridding myself of toxic relationships. A bath with scented oils and a fresh haircut can also do wonders for your confidence.”
5. Denise Maurice
“How do I practice self-care? In a world designed to break me, I keep myself healthy by first understanding that it is my strength that is being discriminated against, not my weakness. These Black woman hips bear the weight of the world with style and grace. This melanin in my skin can withstand the harshest of sun rays and some days…I feel as if I am the Sun herself. I would be jealous if I wasn’t blessed to be who I am. How dare I step outside of gender norms and express myself when given strict commands to fit into a mold so that everyone else can understand me? How dare I not care about the opinions of people I will never even meet? Because I know who I am and am aware of my own strength and beauty. I practice self-care by creating spaces that allow not only myself but other gender nonconforming and artistically expressive individuals to flourish without having to twist and bend themselves into the form that society deems acceptable and employable…I am a firm believer that we are all born with specific gifts and if we become passionate enough about those gifts we can create our own means of survival. I practice self-care by refusing to believe the lie that I am not good enough. Spread Love!”
6. Monica Roberts
Location: Houston, TX
Title: Writer, activist
Where to find her: transgriot.blogspot.com
“When I’m not writing on TransGriot, I have to take a moment to step back and actually do stuff for myself. There are times that I like to write poetry, and I do have a couple of fiction manuscripts and novels that I’m working on. There are times when I just sit back and just chill and go to a ball game or something, just to get away from always being in 24/7 serious activist mode.”
7. Diamond Sharp
Location: DC-based; Chicago native
Title: Poet and writer
Where to find her: Twitter
“I take time to myself. I say ‘no’ often. I don’t feel bad for putting myself first.”
Location: Washington, DC
Title: Advocate for Masculine Women of Color
Where to find her: Tumblr
“Self-care…is something I recently learned how to do. In the past I never had time to take care of myself. That neglect made me very grumpy and stressed. Now I make it a point to look out for my own well-being and mental health no matter what’s going on. Kind of like ‘Pay yourself first’ in regards to finances.
I write frequently and spend a lot of time at the gym. Working out and exercising is not only good for my physical health, but mental health as well.
I take care of my soul by writing on my blog and continuing to reach out, be there for and mentor masculine women of color in regards to sexuality, self esteem, gender identity and a myriad of other issues that aren’t always addressed in our under represented community. Female masculinity is very much misunderstood and misused and we need to continue having discussions about how we move in the world as masculine women and the micro aggressions that come with that.
Giving back keeps me close to the people that matter to me and makes me feel like I’m contributing to the solution instead of just complaining about the problem.”
9. JP Howard
“During the work week, I practice self-care when I seek out and find moments of ‘quiet introspective time.’ Like so many of us, my days are super busy as I’m in a relationship with my partner, we are raising our two sons and I also curate a NY-based literary salon, while working at a full-time, fairly demanding day job. When I can, I take long walks, usually by the water, during my lunch hour to regroup and focus on self. Those quiet moments are very precious to me. I also try to make a habit of traveling outside of New York to attend writing residencies or fellowships that let me pursue my own creative writing for an extended period of time either in a quiet setting and/or in an environment surrounded by fellow writers (for this full-time working mom even a week away from home is a true indulgent writer’s luxury!). While those residencies or fellowships may only happen a few times a year for me, they satisfy my self-care needs. I get so much writing done, I get a week away to solely focus on being a writer and while I miss my family during those trips, I think a necessary part of self-care is finding quality time to nurture ourselves, especially for those of us who are often busy nurturing others.”
Location: Down South
Title: Recovering Artist, Black Culture Junkie, Semi-Professional Big Mouth
Where to find her: Twitter
“This question kinda stopped me in my tracks because I’ve been doing such a poor job at it this year especially. [Laughs.] But more recently, I’ve been working on taking deeper breaths, being nicer to myself, and doing some yoga at home. It takes me being attentive to my body’s needs (which for me is also a form of self-care, not ignoring what my body and mind is trying to tell me), which takes some work, but I always end up feeling better for it. Also, binging out on my favorite TV shows and spending times with my friends always always always helps make life a little sweeter!”
11. Lourdes Ashley Hunter, MPA
Location: Washington, D.C.
Title: Black Trans Revolutionary
Where to find her: Twitter
“I love to cook and take walks in the park with my dog, Cashmere, but I also enjoy taking time to touch myself. There is healing in your own touch and I love all up on this body. Taking time to breathe because every breath a Black Trans Woman takes is an Act of Revolution. I practice self-care by becoming submerged in self-love. Allowing others to give love and allowing myself to receive love but also being particular with my love and with the love I allow in my life. For me, practicing self-care is an act of self-love.”
For more information about self-care, visit Black Girl + Mental Health or purchase I’Nasah Crockett’s zine Death Valley: Or, How to Not Kill Yourself in Less Than Ten Days.
L.G. Parker is a student and writer living in Northern Virginia. Connect with her on Twitter at @posttragic.
A North Carolina yogi is causing a sensation on social media by breaking down body stereotypes with her personal photos.
Jessamyn Stanley, 27, who lives in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, and posts to Instagram under the handle @mynameisjessamyn, has attracted more than 42,000 followers in the last two years sharing images of challenging forearm stands and intense back bends.
The difference between Stanley and the seemingly myriad talented yogis posting online? She is a self-described “fat femme” with ample curves where others are stick straight.
“People need to see diversity, to feel included,” Stanley told ABC News. “It’s really not that I look different, it’s that I look the same as everyone else.”
A lifelong North Carolinian, Stanley was first introduced to Bikram yoga as a teenager by an enthusiastic aunt. But at the time, she was put off by the high-temperature rooms and studio experience. Years later, in college, when a friend mentioned a Groupon discount for Bikram classes, Stanley decided to give the practice a second try and this time something clicked.
“I was going through a lot of transitions and personal changes at the time, I was depressed,” she said. “And being forced to stare at yourself in the mirror and challenge your body was very useful for self-reflection. It turned out to be the saving grace of my entire life.”
But after committing to a regular practice, Stanley eventually moved and didn’t immediately have the disposable income to attend studio classes in her new neighborhood. It was then that she began doing yoga at home and documenting the experience online.
“When you practice, it’s important to note your alignment and progress,” she said. “And it’s a great way to get positive feedback from people. In the studios, there is a lot of judgment. And where I live, it was predominately white, well-educated, upper class people who attended and it tints the student’s perspective. I would feel like, ‘oh, my body will never look like that.’ So, [sharing on] social media has become a great way of feeling normal about being different.”
The attention she’s since received does at times detract from the original intent of recording her postures. But, Stanley reasoned, it’s not a bad thing.
“Sometimes I do wish I would get more feedback that was along the lines of ‘let’s talk about how we can all strengthen our practices,’” she acknowledged. “But if people are more focused on my physique, and connecting with someone they can look to as a peer in this life struggle… if you feel like there’s someone who really gets where you’re coming from, that’s way more powerful.”
Stanley, who currently also teaches classes in Durham, N.C., will embark on a yoga tour in select cities this fall with a fellow “curvaceous teacher.” There are also plans for a full-figured retreat next year.
“My big thing now is trying to be as accessible as I can to as many people as possible,” said Stanley. “I’ve always felt the yoga community is badly cloistered and it’s really important to me to make it clear that it’s for everyone.”
7. Ron Mueck – Sculpture, mixed materials
Photo © Thomas Salva
Photo © Gautier Deblonde
16. Rafal Bujnowski – Black and white paint
“Bujnowski painted a photo-realistic self-portrait in black and white, had it photographed and enclosed the picture as his official photo in the U.S.A. visa application form. The consulate workers failed to notice the manipulation and, eventually, the artist received a passport with a replica of his own painting.”
Fonda stuns on W Magazine’s June 2015 cover in a Giambattista Valli dress and cape. Inside, she shows off her famous figure in the likes of Lanvin and Nina Ricci, and while she looks perfectly at home in the designer duds, she doesn’t necessarily feel that way. “It’s a hoot that, at my age, people are calling me a fashion icon,” she said.
In fact, when it comes to style, Fonda admits it started out as an afterthought. “Truthfully, my relationship to fashion has always been strained. When I was starting out as an actress in New York, I worked as a model because I needed to pay for acting classes. But I didn’t have what it took to be a model. I hated all the emphasis on how I looked, and I never paid much attention to clothes.”
Fonda can rock just about anything (remember that green Balmain jumpsuit from the 2015 Grammys?) with the confidence and sophistication of a true fashion icon, whether or not she thinks so.
Head to W Magazine to see the entire interview, and be sure to pick up your copy of the magazine, which hits newsstands June 2.
Tanisha Anderson. Rekia Boyd. Miriam Carey. Michelle Cusseaux. Shelly Frey. Kayla Moore.
These names are etched into tombstones that stand over the graves of black women killed by police — and were echoed at a vigil in New York City on Wednesday, where dozens gathered to show that these women should not be forgotten. For the first time, families of all these women came together to reflect on the lives of their lost loved ones and publicly share memories of their slain relatives.
It’s not surprising if some of these names don’t sound familiar — but, activists say, it’s also not acceptable. As a national conversation around race and law enforcement has grown in recent years, the experiences black women have with police have largely been excluded.
This was the central focus of this week’s vigil, which was part of a campaign titled #SayHerName.
While the dozens of protests and rallies that have swept the country as a result of the deaths of men, including Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray and Tony Robinson, have been both powerful and necessary, efforts to amplify the stories of black women who have died at the hands of police pale in comparison, AAPF Associate Director Rachel Gilmer told The Huffington Post.
“When we wear the hoodie, we know that we’re embodying Trayvon. When we hold our hands up, we know we’re doing what Mike Brown did in the moments before he was killed. When we say ‘I can’t breathe,’ we’re embodying Eric Garner’s final words,” Gilmer said. “We haven’t been able to do the same thing for black women and girls. We haven’t carried their stories in the same way.”
The #SayHerName campaign is a reminder to, as writer and activist Dream Hampton has noted, offer a more complete — not competing — narrative about policing and race.
“When you bring women to the narrative, it very much complicates our understanding of what police violence is and actually builds a much more structural-based argument around the problem,” Gilmer said.
To put it simply, if these lives and stories aren’t widely recognized, they won’t be remembered and police reform will be incomplete, said Kimberlé Crenshaw, a co-founder of the AAFP.
“We don’t have existing frames to understand and talk about black women. If people don’t have a frame, they forget the facts,” she told HuffPost Live on Wednesday.
“If we’re to use these stories as a way of thinking about how police reform has to be attended to some of the problems that happen, we have to include women in that to make sure that all the ways that black bodies are victimized by police are part of our demands and part of the reform,” she added.
While the deaths of black women by police do not occur as often as those of black men, Crenshaw says this does not provide sound or logical reasoning for overlooking them. Instead, she encourages people to continue to give life to these stories, recite victims’ names and give their cases the recognition they deserve amid a national debate that often excludes them.
Dozens turned out to fulfill that mission on Wednesday — here’s what it looked like:
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
The most important decision of your life, the one that will affect every other decision you make, is the commitment to love and accept yourself. It directly affects the quality of your relationships, your work, your free time, your faith, and your future.
Why then is this so difficult to do?
Your Family of Origin
I grew up with nine siblings. I had two older brothers, three older sisters, three younger sisters, and a younger brother.
I never fit in. My sisters were tall and thin with beautiful, long, lush hair. By eleven years old, I was short and very curvy. My hair was fine, thin, and wild.
For the most part, my siblings did as they were told. I was outspoken, out-of-control and rebellious.
I wore my sister’s hand-me-down school uniforms. I rolled up the hems on the skirts and popped buttons on the blouses. My look was unkempt.
I was teased and bullied at home and at school. Yet I didn’t go quietly into the night. I fought for my place in my family. To protect myself, I developed a good punch and grew a sharp tongue.
I was 27 years old and married with four children when I became desperate enough to seek out my first therapist. I felt alone, stuck, and unlovable. I was determined to change.
After six months of working through my childhood issues, old thoughts, beliefs, and events, I felt alive again. It was like stripping off several layers of paint from an antique piece of furniture. I found myself restored to my original beauty.
We’re taught by society that our worth is found in the idols of our culture—technology, status, youth, sex, power, money, attractiveness, and romantic relationships.
If you base your self worth on the external world, you’ll never be capable of self-love.
Your inner critic will flood you with thoughts of, “I’m not enough, I don’t have enough, and I don’t do enough.”
Feelings of lack are never-ending. Every time a goal is reached or you possess the next big thing, your ego will move the line.
Shift Your Self-Perception
Feeling worthy requires you to see yourself with fresh eyes of self-awareness, , and love. Acceptance and love must come from within.
You don’t have to be different to be worthy. Your worth is in your true nature, a core of love and inner goodness. You are a beautiful light. You are love. We can bury our magnificence, but it’s impossible to destroy.
Loving ourselves isn’t a one time event. It’s an endless, moment by moment ongoing process.
It begins with you, enfolding yourself in your own affection and appreciation.
Read on for steps to discover your worth and enfold yourself in affection and appreciation.
1. Begin your day with love (not technology). Remind yourself of your worthiness before getting out of bed. Breathe in love and breathe out love. Enfold yourself in light. Saturate your being in love.
2. Take time to meditate and journal. Spend time focusing inward daily. Begin with 5 minutes of meditation and 5 minutes of journaling each morning. Gradually increase this time.
3. Talk yourself happy. Use affirmations to train your mind to become more positive. Put a wrist band on your right wrist. When you’re participating in self-abuse of any form, move the band to your left wrist.
4. Get emotionally honest. Let of go of numbing your feelings.Shopping, eating, and drinking are examples of avoiding discomfort, sadness, and pain. Mindfully breathe your way through your feelings and emotions.
5. Expand your interests. Try something new. Learn a language. Go places you’ve never been. Do things you haven’t done before. You have a right to an awesome life.
6. Enjoy life enhancing activities. Find exercise you like. Discover healthy foods that are good for you. Turn off technology for a day and spend time doing things that make you feel alive.
7. Become willing to surrender. Breathe, relax, and let go. You can never see the whole picture. You don’t know what anything is for. Stop fighting against yourself by thinking and desiring people and events in your life should be different. Your plan may be different from your soul’s intentions.
8. Work on personal and spiritual development. Be willing to surrender and grow. Life is a journey. We are here to learn and love on a deeper level. Take penguin steps and life becomes difficult. One step at a time is enough to proceed forward.
9. Own your potential. Love yourself enough to believe in the limitless opportunities available to you. Take action and create a beautiful life for yourself.
10. Be patient with yourself. Let go of urgency and fear. Relax and transform striving into thriving. Trust in yourself, do good work, and the Universe will reward you.
11. Live in appreciation. Train your mind to be grateful. Appreciate your talents, beauty, and brilliance. Love your imperfectly perfect self.
12. Be guided by your intuition. All answers come from within. Look for signs and pay attention to your gut feelings. You’ll hear two inner voices when you need to make a decision. The quiet voice is your higher self; the loud voice is your ego. Always go with the quieter voice.
13. Do what honors and respects you. Don’t participate in activities that bring you down. Don’t allow toxic people in your life. Love everyone, but be discerning on who you allow into your life.
14. Accept uncertainty. Suffering comes from living in the pain of the past or the fear of the future. Put your attention on the present moment and be at peace.
15. Forgive yourself. Learn from your mistakes and go forward. Use this affirmation, “I forgive myself for judging myself for __________ (fill in the blank i.e.: for getting sick, for acting out, for not doing your best.)
16. Discover the power of fun. Self-love requires time to relax, play, and create face-to-face interaction with others. Our fast-paced world creates a goal setting, competitive craziness that doesn’t leave room for play. Dr. Stuart Brow says, “The opposite of play isn’t work, it is depression.”
17. Be real. Speak up and speak out. Allow yourself to be seen, known, and heard. Get comfortable with intimacy (in-to-me-see).
18. Focus on the positive. Go to your heart and dwell on and praise yourself for what you get right in all areas.
19. Become aware of self neglect and rejection. Become conscious of your choices. Ask yourself several times throughout the day, “Does this choice honor me?”
20. Imagine what your life would look like if you believed in your worth. Dedicate your life to loving you. Make it your main event.
21. Seek professional help. Self-rejection and neglect is painful. You deserve to be happy. You have a right to be accepted and loved. If necessary, seek help from a support group, counselor, or coach. It’s the best investment you can make.
Because we are all interconnected, when I love me, I also love you. Together through our love, we can heal ourselves, each other, and the world. Love is our purpose, our true calling. It begins with and within each of us.