It’s so different having friends in my 40s than in my 20s and early 30s. Different in a good way. I cherish my friends, I’m in love with my friends, I miss them when we go long periods without seeing each other. At this point in my life, the people I choose to be friends with are so special to me and when I look at them, I see pure beauty—inside and out. I see their amazing qualities and wish for them to be happy, fulfilled and treated like they deserve to be.
Back in my younger years, my friendships were still very much based on going out to clubs (remember those?) and talking about dating. We would go party and dance all night, while drinking and adventuring in ways that I’m grateful social media was not around to capture. Now, we are in the deep throes of our careers, dating is much more complicated for those that are still single or newly single, relationships and marriages are filled with ups and downs, even family dynamics can become more intense than ever and we turn to each other to vent, listen and commiserate.
I often see women in my age bracket comment online about how much they wished they had friends, especially if it is a post about friends doing things together—brunching, traveling, etc. I want that to change, but I know how daunting it can be to make new friends especially later in life. But, just like love, it’s NEVER too late. I’m reflecting on the most recent time I made a new friend. In a lot of ways, making new friends is like dating. The older I get, the more I am set in my ways and I know exactly what I like and want. For me, it’s important that anyone I spend time with has similar core values, even if our personalities are completely different.
At work, there are not that many Latinas, but there are a few, so we all know who each other are. Often, I feel like we are skeptical of one another at first, which is exactly how it was with two of my best friends once upon a time—is this only a Latina thing? (That’s a different conversation for a different post in the future). Back to the work friend story—during the height of the pandemic, the constant zoom meetings were exhausting but it did force me to engage with and meet other people at work than I normally would see on a daily basis. I started to notice this one very outspoken Latina who consistently raised salient points, asked poignant questions and overall just made a very strong impression. It intrigued me! So, I took a brave step and sent her a direct message during a large group zoom meeting and complimented her on something she said. Then, to my surprise, she complimented me right back and even referred to me as a “bad ass.” By the way, I do feel it is super nerve-wracking to make public comments in large work meetings, even via video conference, so it was very comforting to support and receive support from one another, especially being in a very small minority demographic.
Over time, we continued to applaud each other and then agreed to have coffee. During that first coffee hang out, I learned about how she met her husband, her educational journey and even got a glimpse into her hopes and dreams. A few months later, we had coffee again and shared frustrations with work, ideas for improvement and just overall had a great chat. Obviously, we are nowhere near as close as other friendships I have, but I definitely feel like I gained someone I can safely talk to at work, and that’s exactly what I needed. I even shared with her some of my career aspirations, and she encouraged me to pursue them. Just recently, we bumped into each other and had a chance to catch up with one other. She shared some very personal struggles she was going through and even though we were sitting in our workplace, it felt much more like being in a coffee shop or living room, having a deep conversation as friends. I honestly have no way to know how close we will ever become, but what I do value is her opinion and her being a little more than just a coworker. She is someone I feel safe to talk to and I can sense the feeling is mutual based on our conversations.