A friend of ours once told us a story about how, in the middle of a long road trip, she stopped at a playground in a random town so that her young child could run around in the fresh air for a bit. As she was parking her car, her child started squealing with joy at the sight of the playground filled with other children. Our friend asked her child if she was excited to go play, and her child responded, “Yes! All of my friends are already there!”
Remember when we saw everyone around us as friends and playmates? Remember when we had no qualms or hesitations about running straight to that jungle gym to play with our peers?
At Soul Camp, an adult sleep away camp we started, we believe that the playground still exists. We believe it’s not only possible to create new, playful connections as adults, but it’s imperative to do so to live a fulfilling, supportive, joyful life.
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The first step in finding and creating playful new connections as an adult is to get down to the root of who you are beyond “mom,” “dad,” “executive” or “employee.” What do you love? What fills you with happiness? What brings you peace? Think back to when you were a child, before passing a test or making money was even a thought—what did you spend your time doing? Perhaps it’s writing or painting or soccer.
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After you’ve stripped away your labels and identified what brings you joy, find other people who like to do that, too. If you love to DIY, check out a crafting store in your town and ask if they ever have any live gatherings. Love to read? Perhaps the library has a book club.
The Internet is an incredible resource these days to find your people. Search for anything your heart desires at meetup.com and see if there are any fellow chess players or cupcake makers you can connect with.
Once you have found people that you connect with, be with them. (That means putting away the phone and stepping away from your email.) Don’t be afraid to ask them what’s going on in their lives, what they’re passionate about, and what they’re struggling with. When you are making new friends as an adult, you have an opportunity to connect on a different level than when you were a child or young adult.
Michelle Goldblum and Alison Leipzig are wellness entrepreneurs who cofounded Soul Camp, an adult sleep away camp.