In my life, I have been so blessed. Despite being a bit shy, I have an internal desire to know and meet people. In part, I thank my parents for having me as an only child. Because of being alone, I found myself always searching for more friends and family. I always wanted to have people that I could bond with and relate to.

But I was also, not very good at it as a kid. I didn’t really understand in my youth what it took to make meaningful connections. Don’t misunderstand, I had friends. But I wasn’t always good at knowing how to interact with them. I was very popular when I was young because I always had an allowance on me. I didn’t understand money to the degree I do today, what child really does? If someone needed money, I gave it to them. If someone wanted something from the snack bar and didn’t have enough money, I bought it for them. On field trips, everyone got a pencil from the shop if there was one. Giving attracted people to me, but also didn’t ensure I was really making connections.

As I grew up and hit those horrible high school years, I started to learn that money couldn’t buy popularity (no matter what movies and television say). I then sought out to find friends that I could be myself around. Silly, young at heart, and full of dreams. I made a handful of wonderful friends and started to learn that quality meant much more than quantity. What I soon realized was that I had an “old soul”. My heart was attracted to “adults”, and so I put my energy into growing connections through volunteering with local organizations including a local nursing home.

These connections filled my soul in ways I never had imagined. I think it was there that I learned the power of making true, meaningful connections. Connecting with adults when you are a mere 16 isn’t easy, but I found that I was a natural. I wanted to be around and learn from them. And so, I made not only friends as a young person, but also had countless mentors that supported and loved me.

This all led to my strength in making connections. It taught me to trust myself and my gifts and talents to help me grow and meet the people I needed to meet.

I carried this mentality all through college and my first years in my career. But over time, society can cause us to lose doubt in ourselves. Whether it be measuring ourselves to others at work, or measuring ourselves to others in life, we soon feel like we just cannot measure up. So while I still made friends and connections, I continued to revert back to the friends of my youth. We rekindled our “sisterhood” and found the support we needed to help each other through the crazy thirties and forties, marriages and children, love and loss.

While this was wonderful, I was not getting to know my community, where I lived. I traveled with my job and created more bonds and connections in other states than I did at home.

So last year when I found myself in a community with no connections, I wondered how I would get started. I was starting a new business and a new life and knew that I couldn’t just lean on my long-distance friends from college to support me (although they are always there). I needed a closer group to interact with, laugh with and just enjoy. But as we get older, making friends and connections can seem so much more difficult. Whether it be because of time, or lack thereof, or because we are nervous to be ourselves, it just gets harder.

But I decided to set out on my new quest. I knew I needed to meet people, but not just anyone, I needed to meet “my people”. You may now be saying, “good luck with that,” but I assure you, I went into this knowing that I was going to meet people that would value me for me. Not for what I did or didn’t have to offer them, but for the person I was and for the connection, I could provide.

I made my list of goals and started by just taking that first step. The main thing I kept in mind was, they will have to accept me, crazy smiles, flowers in my hair, Disney addict and all.

So here I am, a year later and so filled with love and connections. What I have built goes beyond what I could have imagined last year, and continues to grow. I am just “me”, no one else, and therefore, I am surrounding myself with people who value that. It hasn’t been easy, and you do need a budget, but I assure it, it is worth it. Now I am truly at “home” in my community. I don’t feel like a visitor, but a local. I feel like I belong more than I have in probably 20 years.

As you read this, are you looking to grow or build your local community? Do you think you cannot have true friends and connections in your own back yard? Need help getting started?

Let’s connect and work together to Curate YOU! and curate a community that will love YOU!