In reflecting on my friendship experiences and history, I picture an IMDB drop-down list of roles and characters, with the earlier roles (meaning the friendships) giving way to more in-depth ones in the present.
I made friends in the neighborhood and in grade school (a few that today are Facebook friends, too); and high school found me with a tight group that slowly lost touch, with the exception of one I’m still close with today. The workplace was always a good source of friendships over the years, some that changed as jobs and companies changed and some that hung in there.
My relocation from New York to Boston shifted some of those friendships. Some friends took exception to the fact that I was leaving and others admired the courage it took to move to a new city, and find a place to live and work.
I consider myself an easy-going individual, open to new experiences and willing to travel on my own to new and interesting places. It has never bothered me (and still doesn’t) to travel solo; my thinking has always been that, upon arrival at the destination, I will have at least one thing in common with others – – namely, our curiosity and interest about the same location and a desire to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
(Before your imagination runs wild, here’s some context. The experiences I’m referring to are outdoor adventures: a wagon train trip through the Dakotas; ranching in Montana; gray whales migrating in Baja California; island camping in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, snorkeling to see newborn humpback whales near the Dominican Republic, and many more. You get the idea!)
At the same time I was settling into the Boston area, so were a group of seven women who I had yet to meet, but who I was destined to have as close friends. They each moved to the area for a variety of reasons, including college, graduate studies, and jobs.
Following my interests, I signed on to be a volunteer educator aboard the New England Aquarium’s whale watch boat. And so did one of those seven women. She is the connection to the others (knowing them from her hometown or her college) and, after 20 years, we’ve become a close knit group who reunite for one week each summer at our favorite vacation spot. At the same time these friendships were growing, I was expanding my business connections.
This is where my story merges with Manya’s.
To network with others in my field (as an internal corporate communicator), I joined the Boston chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). The chapter organized lunches for members to meet, share ideas, etc. Whenever Manya hosted a lunch I attended, our conversations were always fun and effortless. Over time, we served on the chapter’s board together and would often meet for lunch or dinner, just because it was fun.
As layoffs hit my industry, and other job mismatches resulted in stress and grief, I’d reach out to Manya for her empathy and counsel to help me see the path forward. She is an intelligent, independent entrepreneur with a patient demeanor and willingness to listen. I saw in her perhaps what I could be, should I choose that path.
Last year, when I was fully recovered from my most recent (and, happily, last corporate role), Manya called with a lunch invitation. She had a concept (actually, she had a draft business plan and organizational structure, too!) that she called “Project BFF”. She envisioned it as a vibrant and engaging content hub of original and curated content for the community of women age 40+ and the friendships in their lives. “Could you see a role for yourself in this?” she asked.
I most certainly did see a role for myself and, since that day, she and I have meet weekly either via phone or in-person to brainstorm, celebrate the milestones (such as having an intern joining the team!), tackle the challenges and grow our friendship. Every week, we are thrilled to expand our network of engaged, enthusiastic, helpful and supportive women who are eager to share their expertise as we strive to introduce more women to Project BFF.