Sika Degbo, Prioritizing Friendship

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While growing up in the suburbs of Maryland, going to school and having a set schedule made making friends something I didn’t have to put work into. I met people at school and we would hang out, do nothing, and get into some harmless trouble to pass the time. It was so easy.

After 12 grades of effortless friendships, the time came for me to go off to college. I was heading to New York City – the Big Apple. I was nervous but excited about the new life and friends that awaited me. Despite many warnings that New York University (NYU) could be lonely if you don’t make a sincere effort for it to be otherwise (because it’s not a school with a traditional campus, thus no built-in community), I figured I was up to the challenge.

It turns out that I wasn’t – not exactly anyway.

I had some friends but my attempts to make more friends seemed to fall flat. I wasn’t doing the right thing or perhaps I wasn’t approaching it in the right way. I got discouraged and the result was that I didn’t build the support group that I truly wanted. I felt like I didn’t know the secret that other people knew. My life in reality didn’t live up to my hopes and expectations. I dreamed of my life looking like the ABC Family show Greek even though NYU’s Greek life seemed just as untraditional as the rest of the school, and I was too intimidated to even look into joining a sorority. I dreamed of having the close-knit group of girlfriends that my sister formed while she was in college and still stays close with to this day.

I’ve noticed that in life when you begin settling for less and expecting less, you tend to continue to receive less. Negative thoughts around one area of your life just continue to attract more lack and dissatisfaction.

My cycle of lack went on through college and into post-grad, though I did gain some great relationships along the way. When I moved back home from NYC, I realized that I had to start from scratch again.

It’s an isolating experience because it’s not something that I see many people struggling with. I’m a cool person who loves to laugh and do fun things. I can be kind, thoughtful, and caring. I didn’t understand why it was so hard for me to find and keep people around who appreciated all of my amazing qualities.

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Enter meetup.com. After wrestling with the idea of “putting myself out there” and going to an event to meet other 20-something women, I finally rallied myself to be optimistic and just go. Of course, it turned out to be lots of fun, and I was anxious for no reason. It was great because everyone at the event had the same goal of meeting new people and making new friends. There was no guessing to be had and less awkwardness than one would expect. I re-familiarized myself with the fact that I’m naturally a friendly person, and making conversation comes pretty easily for me.

It’s funny (and sad) how long we can wish for something yet find it acceptable to settle with feeling sorry for ourselves and doing nothing about it. We know it’s important to take actions toward our goals, but it’s all too easy to just dream about how we’d like things to change while binge-watching New Girl on Netflix.

Meeting the girls from Art of the Journey meetup group has given me a renewed sense of connection with like-minded individuals and fun new experiences. Though we don’t all know each other that well yet, we still enjoy sharing stories, sharing meals, and sharing experiences together – just as any group of friends would. It’s refreshing to have such an easy way to meet others who are also going through this confusing and often frustrating life stage. Because at the end of the day, we’re all just hoping to be seen, heard, and reminded that we’re not alone.

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