A Special Kind of Coffee Talk

When we are young, social opportunities present themselves all the time. After all, it is this time in life that we are being molded into adults causing friendships to come and go from every direction. Social connections are essential mentally and physically as we age, but not so easy to develop. As humans, we need a so-called “tribe” and that is necessary to our well-being. Finding and maintaining a group of like-minded people takes work but is well worth every second while giving us friendship skills as we age.

As humans, we are hard-wired to interact with other people making friends essential as our brains age. It gives us a sense of purpose to care about others and know they care about us. We are like many animals who live in packs. Many times, older people feel it necessary to seek out the same age group and I find this not necessary at all.  Personally, I never put an age restriction on anyone I have friendships with. I welcome connecting with millennials and the exchange of ideas is always refreshing. I find it so funny when I see the astonishment on the faces of twenty-somethings if I use words like “icebox” or “pay phone” or even “yellow pages.” I love learning about how baggage-free they are with their lives and very self-contained. No need for clutter, cars, or large spaces for this group. Their lives are orderly, tightly planned and always curious about the planet. What more could I ask for in a friendship plus inheriting a learning curve with this kind of age difference?

Try to consider people you interact with daily as future friends. I’ve become friends with my professors, the guy who sprays for bugs, a contractor who works on my house and the young woman working in a coffee shop that I frequent. This doesn’t mean you should neglect seeking out friends and feel they will magically find you and connect. You must put yourself out there and take risks. Don’t be shy, this is important stuff, and you can do it. You probably will find after a short conversation with a stranger that the chemistry will never be right. Putting yourself out there socially becomes a habit. For me, it was hard walking into a room of strangers at 16 years old and believe me, it won’t be any different at 66.

One of the best rituals currently in my life is when I meet four ladies for coffee each week. It is a “must-do” on my calendar. There is no better therapy and the only time any of us cancel is for doctor’s appointments as at this time in our lives we are constantly band-aiding our bodies. In our coffee group, we are all totally different personalities and backgrounds, and the mix is like creating a recipe with ingredients you would never believe existed before. The result is roaring laughter, moments of sadness, lives not fulfilled and worries about the future, but, we have the BEST times. Our interests, hobbies and skills are so very contrasting and that’s what makes our weekly meetings so inviting and unique. There is complete trust between the five of us, allowing for any topics to be on the table. We respect our differences and opinions.

If you don’t have a tribe, it is time to establish one.  Remember, some people you will be drawn to and some you won’t. Walk into a class or a club, attend a festival alone. It takes time to feel comfortable. Before you know it, you’ll be introducing yourself or making small talk. It’s really OK to exchange phone numbers (as long as it’s not from the 1960’s yellow pages), you should not feel embarrassed to reach out.  Don’t become caught up in differences in people but rather how interesting differences actually are.  Throw worries to the wind about age-appropriate events, a number means nothing in caring for another human being. A concoction of humans connecting is a wonderful thing and something to be cherished. If someone likes you and wants you as a friend, your confidence will be boosted and make you ever stronger to put yourself out there. 

There is such a great, comfortable feeling knowing someone genuinely wants to spend time with you. Go places that you like, at least that works for me. There will be a common thread and you will connect at some point. Accept those social invitations and don’t back out. Before you know it, you will have your own tribe and possibly become a coffee connoisseur. I highlight my calendar in a yellow marker the days I meet for coffee talk, it means so much to me. And the good news is I don’t have to pay a therapist!